Iraq Success Depends Upon Iraqi-Provided Security, Wolfowitz Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2004 Success in Iraq is predicated on Iraqis eventually assuming responsibility for their own security, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told a House panel today.
And the security situation in Iraq today "is incredibly serious," Wolfowitz acknowledged in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
Wolfowitz, who just returned from a visit to Iraq June 16-19, provided his insights just eight days before the June 30 handover of sovereignty.
Die-hard Saddamists and Islamic fundamentalists sowing terror and instability across Iraq are evil, ruthless killers, Wolfowitz pointed out, who are determined to derail Iraq's march toward democracy.
Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who accompanied Wolfowitz, reported that he expects "more violence not less" in Iraq before and after the sovereignty handover.
Alarmed about the lack of security in their country, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want to see the terrorists defeated, Wolfowitz maintained. And he said he believes Iraqis can ultimately "provide their own security," noting, "that is the key to success" to victory over terrorists in Iraq.
The deputy defense secretary said he was encouraged during his recent discussions with Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who'd described a number of changes for the Iraqi armed forces designed to help them better fight terrorists.
One Allawi proposal, Wolfowitz noted, involves the formation of Iraqi "SWAT"- type forces to confront insurgents and terrorists.
Having Iraqis assume responsibility for their own security and using U.S. forces in a backup role, Wolfowitz emphasized, "would be huge progress."
Wolfowitz pointed out to the committee that U.S. forces in Iraq would continue to be under American control following the transfer of sovereignty.
The United States, the deputy defense secretary said, isn't "stuck" in Iraq. Yet, Wolfowitz conceded he didn't know how long it would take to achieve victory. U.S. forces, he noted, have spent years in Bosnia.
However, Iraq "is a vastly more important mission for our national security," he noted.
"It is important to stay and finish it," he concluded.