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U.N. Rep Pledges Ongoing Commitment to Iraqi Forces

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2005 – Iraq remains "a very difficult security environment," but strong progress is being made in the country's transition into a stable, democratic government with self-reliant security forces, said the acting U.S. representative to the United Nations on April 11.

Building the Iraqi security force remains a work in progress and a top priority," Ambassador Anne Patterson told the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

She pledged that Multinational Force Iraq will continue to cooperate closely with the Iraqi government and to train and fight alongside Iraqi security forces. As local conditions allow, the multinational forces will permanently turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces, she said.

"The performance of the Iraqi security forces demonstrates growing capability and testifies to the successful continuing cooperation between the Iraqi government and the multinational force," Patterson said. She cited their success in securing 5,200 polling sites during the Jan. 30 elections. Iraq's forces protected voters and polling centers from more than 100 attacks and detained more than 200 suspected insurgents that day, she noted.

The 27-nation Multinational Force Iraq coordinates closely with the Iraqi government at the local and national levels to employ more effective tactics to defeat insurgents and prevent their attacks, Patterson said

According to Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, more than 150,000 security forces within the Ministries of Interior and Defense have been equipped and trained, she told the council.

Some 85,000 Interior Ministry troops include regular police; special police commando, public order and mechanized battalions; border guard units; and dignitary-protection elements. The 65,000 Defense Ministry forces include troops from the regular Iraqi army -- which now includes an intervention force and a national guard -- and the air force, navy and special operations elements.

Iraq's security forces are playing an increasing role in security and stabilization operations, supported as needed by the multinational force, Patterson said. Other missions include recovering and destroying munitions and land mines, providing air support, conducting maritime interception operations and protecting multinational reconstruction efforts, she said.

A key focus of the multinational force and Iraqi security forces is to employ more effective tactics to defeat the insurgents and prevent their attacks, Patterson said.

"Terrorists and insurgents remain determined to try to thwart Iraq's progress toward peace and democracy," she acknowledged. "They continue a brutal campaign of attacks and intimidation against Iraqi leaders and citizens, Iraqi security forces, private citizens and air workers from many countries, and the multinational force."

But Patterson expressed optimism about the security forces' progress in countering this threat and in the new political climate unfolding in Iraq.

"The January 30 elections opened a new chapter in Iraqi history," she said. "These elections were an essential step in the Iraqi people's path toward stability and democratic self-government."

"We look forward to working closely with the newly elected government of Iraq to ensure effective support for stabilization, reconstruction and continued democratic development in Iraq," she said.

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Ambassador Anne Patterson

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