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Coalition Will Press Fight in Iraq, Vice Chairman Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2003 – The coalition will continue to press the fight in Iraq, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said during television interviews Nov. 12.

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed his sympathy to the families of the Italian Carabinieri killed in the Nov. 12 car bombing in Nasiriyah. "We never want to minimize the single death of a soldier from our country or the coalition," Pace said. "Each one of those is tragic."

But the presence of the coalition personnel is allowing the Iraqi people the chance to write their own constitution and elect their own government. "These are goals worthy of great nations and great effort," he said. "We will continue to press this fight until the Iraqi people have this freedom."

Pace did interviews via satellite from the Pentagon to television stations in Miami, Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Denver. To each, he said the United States is at war and that the coalition will continue to press the fight.

U.S. tactics, techniques and procedures will change to counter enemy tactics. He said the coalition will use whatever force is necessary to win the war. Pace noted that early in the war, the United States was very careful in using precision-guided munitions to strike regime targets. Coalition planners are still careful, he said.

"But if a particular target is best handled by a 500-pound bomb, so be it," Pace stated. "We're going to go out and get these thugs, these leftover remnants, these terrorists. If they do not stop fighting, we will seek them out and kill them."

Pace said it is important that the coalition stay the course and the Iraqi people must not doubt "that we are there to stay," he said. "We are going to be there until we can turn over to the Iraqi people their own government that they have elected, their own constitution that they have written so they can become members of the community of nations."

The vice chairman noted that the enemy is a small element of former regime loyalists and imported terrorists. He said the Iraqi people will point those people out to coalition security forces.

"The vast majority of the Iraqi people can be trusted, should be trusted. And we need to work with them to help them get to their future," he said.

Pace pointed out that coalition commanders have said they do not need more troops. He said that U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid and Combined Joint Task Force 7 chief Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez "have been told repeatedly by the president of the United States and by the secretary of defense that whatever force levels they need to get this job done, they will be provided to them."

"What they have asked for, they have gotten," Pace said. "What they ask for, they will get."

He said the security footprint has grown with the addition of Iraqi security personnel. The Iraqi security forces now make up the largest bloc of the coalition. Still, U.S. personnel will remain in the country to help the Iraqis secure the peace.

In the first four months of 2004, thousands of U.S. reserve component service members will deploy to Southwest Asia. Pace thanked them for their service and thanked their families for providing the support necessary for the reservists to serve. "I would not want to be an enemy of the United States of America in any kind of battle in any kind of conflict," Pace said.

"We have the world's best soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen, and they are adaptive," he said. "It is the corporals and the sergeants and the lieutenants and the captains on the battlefield who make the great decisions every day. They do the audibles at the line of scrimmage that make a difference. They can do this. They have done it; they will do it. We will stay with this, and we will win."

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