We had elections in Iraq and Afghanistan because we had boots on the ground...it's going to be a long time in my view before we're going to be able to influence people, control terrain, and control populations, and to influence people in a personal way from outside without putting people on the ground. (Transcript)
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker
Chief of Staff of the Army
Multi-National Force-Iraq reports there are now more than 155,000 trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces.
- The duties of each unit and their capabilities vary, but the trend is clearly positive in the development of the forces.
- Recruiting remains strong for both the army in the Ministry of Defense and the police in the Ministry of Interior.
While the general trend of the number of attacks in Iraq has been decreasing since the Jan. 30 elections, insurgent activity has increased somewhat in the past few weeks.
- It is important to keep in mind that weekly numbers of attacks tend to fluctuate. An uptick could be a trend or it could be an aberration.
- Commanders will closely watch the numbers to determine whether the increase indicates more planning, coordination and sophistication on the part of the insurgents.
As Iraqis begin to organize their government and set their country back on track after more than 30 years under Saddam Hussein, insurgents will continue their efforts to create ethnic strife in Iraq.
Creating ethnic strife was one of the goals outlined by convicted terrorist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in a letter to al Qaeda leadership intercepted last year. (Link to copy of letter)
Attacks such as the one in Baghdad on a Shiite mosque and the discovery last week of bodies in a soccer stadium in Haditha bear out the insurgents' interest in pitting Iraqis against each other.
With the installation of a new government in Iraq, the insurgents can no longer say they are attacking an occupying force. Iraqis recognize the attacks as being aimed against them, rather than Coalition forces.
Iraqis continue to provide intelligence against the enemy. This improves commanders' understanding of the enemy, which improves their ability to interdict attacks.
Australia is deploying 450 more troops to Iraq, bringing their total in-country to 1,370.
- The added military presence will provide a task group to support the Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group.
- The Aussies will also train Iraqi forces. (AFIS news story)