Edition: Wed, March 16, 2005
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Iraqi forces are conducting operations and hanging tough in the face of difficult challenges... More units are coming out of the chute every week. (Story)

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus
Multinational Security Transition Command - Iraq



Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, JCS

Trend lines on progress in Iraq are up, and Iraq and the Coalition are on track with work to rebuild the country.

- Iraqi Security Forces are increasingly taking more responsibility for the security mission.
- Forces now number 145,000, including the army and various police units.
- Their capacity and capabilities continue to grow
- They have been playing a larger role in leading the counter-insurgency effort.
- Iraqis continue to battle the insurgency.
- The people causing instability are more criminal in nature than they are a true insurgency.
- Even so, the most deadly acts of violence are the work of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al Qaeda helpers. Former regime elements also play a large role in the violence.

Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, Commander, MNC-I

The goal of Coalition forces in Iraq is to enable Iraqi forces to conduct independent counter-insurgency operations.

- As Iraqi forces improve, there will be less need for Coalition forces; however, decisions on force size will be driven by events on the ground.
- Iraqi Security Forces have valuable capabilities Coalition forces don't, such as language skills, cultural insights and access to certain intelligence.
- Iraqi forces have performed brilliantly, most recently in the elections.

Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq

- The success of the Iraqi elections boosted morale in the Iraqi Security Forces, and trust by the Iraqi people in their security apparatus.
- Iraq has 96 operational combat battalions.
- Forces are conducting independent operations and getting results.
- Forces are "shouldering the burden" in 12 of the 18 provinces - the three Kurdish provinces in the north and nine provinces in the south.
- Momentum is going forward in all aspects: Recruits are being trained; the supply system is equipping them; and the infrastructure is maturing at the right time to house and maintain the units.

Marine Corps Col. Kerry Burkholder, Deputy Chief of Coalition Operations, U.S. Central Command

- The 72-nation Coalition supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is making significant contributions and remains committed to the cause.
- Twenty-five coalition members are contributing more than 20,000 troops to the operation.
- The Poles lead the Multinational Division Center-South.
- The British lead the Multinational Division South-East.
- The Koreans lead the Multinational Division North-East.
- Other nations provide intelligence and humanitarian support, back the Coalition politically, donating money or supplies, help train Iraqi forces, or support security and maritime-interdiction operations.

Source: DOD