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Bush Cites 'Steady Progress' in Iraq

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2003 – With the first battalion of 750 soldiers trained for the new Iraqi army, President Bush said coalition efforts continue to make "steady progress" toward Iraqi self-government.

"For decades, Iraq's army served the interests of a dictator," Bush said in his weekly radio address Oct. 4. "Today, a new army is serving the Iraqi people. And less than a year from now, Iraq will have a 40,000-member military force, trained and dedicated to protecting their fellow citizens."

More than 80,000 Iraqis now are working in jobs related to the country's security, Bush said, including almost 2,500 in the Civil Defense Corps, 4,700 in the border guard and a facility-protection force of more than 12,000.

"And more than half of the Iraqis under arms are police officers," he added, "instructed by professionals like New York City's outstanding former police chief, Bernard Kerik." The kingdom of Jordan, Bush said, has announced it will help train more Iraqi police officers.

Bush contrasted the missions of the Iraqi police force under Saddam Hussein with the accomplishments of the fledgling police force of today.

"For three decades, the police in Iraq were the feared enforcers of a dictatorship. Now Iraq's new police are enforcing the just laws of an emerging democracy," he said. "Already the Iraqi police are assuming greater responsibility, and greater risks. This week, Iraqi officers aided a series of joint raids by American troops, leading to the arrest of more than 50 suspected criminals and terrorists.

"We're on the offensive against the desperate holdouts and Saddam loyalists who oppose progress in Iraq," Bush continued. "The free nation we are helping to build will be free of them."

Bush said all other coalition rebuilding efforts hinge on security. "A secure Iraq will protect the nation's schools, and the hospitals that are opening, and the roads that are being built, and the water and power facilities we are repairing," he said.

Coalition forces in Iraq, he added, understand their mission. "The men and women of our coalition have shown bravery and skill and compassion in Iraq," the president said. "And they know their mission. They know that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities.

"Our forces know that a secure and sovereign Iraq will be a setback for terrorists and an inspiration to all who dream of freedom in the Middle East," he continued. "And the world can be certain this essential mission in the war on terror will be completed."

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