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Major Terror War Feat Is Liberating 51 Million People, Rumsfeld Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2003 – The only "exit strategy" for U.S. forces in Iraq is success, but the coalition is well on its way to achieving that aim, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.

Rumsfeld spoke on the CBS and Fox News morning shows for the Veterans Day observance. He said success in Iraq is defined as turning sovereignty back to a duly elected, representative government.

Part of that is the Iraqis taking responsibility for their own security, he said, and the secretary stressed that Iraq is now the largest contributor to security forces in the nation more than 130,000 members of the police, the Civil Defense Corps, the Border Guard, the facilities protection service and the new Iraqi army.

But Rumsfeld said coalition forces will remain in Iraq and help bring security to the nation. He said the enemy is changing its tactics and the coalition leadership is responding.

More than 90 percent of the attacks against coalition and Iraqi targets are centered in the Baathist Triangle area delineated by Baghdad, Ar Ramadi and Tikrit, Rumsfeld explained. "The military leadership there is constantly adjusting the techniques and procedures and tactics that they use to suit the security situation on the ground," he said.

He stated that commanders are making changes and that any capability they need would be available to them.

Rumsfeld said the major accomplishment of the war on terrorism to date has been the liberation of 23 million people in Iraq and 28 million people in Afghanistan. He said the Taliban in Afghanistan stunted that country's people, and the regime in Iraq was particularly vicious.

"We saw videotapes of them cutting off people's hands and fingers, and chopping off their heads, and throwing them off the tops of buildings, and cutting off tongues," Rumsfeld said. "Those people are now free and liberated from that regime."

Still, the secretary said, Iraq remains a dangerous country and the coalition must be prepared for a "difficult, long, low-intensity conflict we're going to have to work our way through."

How the coalition proceeds operationally is up to the battlefield commanders, the secretary said. "I've got a lot of confidence in them," Rumsfeld said. "They are convinced we've got the right force levels and the right types of forces."

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