Iraq Mission to Continue With Stability Operations

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2010 — With the last full brigade of com­bat troops now out of Iraq and anoth­er 6,000 U.S. forces to leave by the month’s end, the mis­sion in Iraq con­tin­ues with the tran­si­tion to sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions, Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lan­za, spokesman for U.S. Forces Iraq, told reporters today.

“Our mis­sion still con­tin­ues,” Lan­za said this morn­ing on the CBS “Ear­ly Show.” “We’re going to tran­si­tion from com­bat oper­a­tions to sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions, and we’re doing that as we’re draw­ing down our forces right now to 50,000 by 1 Sep­tem­ber.”

The final con­voy of com­bat troops, mem­bers of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 4th Stryk­er Brigade, crossed into Kuwait before dawn today.

“With that brigade that just left, we’re rough­ly a lit­tle under 56,000 [troops],” Lan­za said. That num­ber, he said, will steadi­ly decrease with­in the next 12 days to meet Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s man­date.

“And on 1 Sep­tem­ber, we’ll tran­si­tion to sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions as part of New Dawn,” Lan­za added.

The 50,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq will con­duct three dif­fer­ent mis­sions under Oper­a­tion New Dawn, Lan­za explained last night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Mad­dow Show.”

“We’ll still con­tin­ue to part­ner to sup­port coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions for the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces,” he said. “We will con­tin­ue to sup­port provin­cial recon­struc­tion teams that work for the State Depart­ment with their job to build civ­il capac­i­ty and devel­op civ­il insti­tu­tions and still sup­port the Unit­ed Nations and non­govern­men­tal offi­cials.”

In addi­tion, U.S. forces will con­tin­ue to help the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces build capa­bil­i­ty and capac­i­ty until the U.S. mis­sion in Iraq ends in Decem­ber 2011.

“We’ll con­tin­ue to train, coor­di­nate, advise and assist them in accor­dance with the secu­ri­ty agree­ment,” Lan­za said.

Lan­za expressed con­fi­dence in the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, now num­ber­ing more than 660,000, and point­ed to exam­ples of their suc­cess. “They have shown they can secure the coun­try for the elec­tions. They have shown they can secure the coun­try for major reli­gious hol­i­days,” he told CBS.

“More impor­tant­ly, they’ve shown that they have the will, the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the ethos to con­tin­ue to improve,” he said. “So we’re very com­fort­able with the improve­ment they’re mak­ing, the capa­bil­i­ties they’re mak­ing and the type of force they’re turn­ing into.”

Lan­za told CBS he’s also impressed that Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces have remained apo­lit­i­cal while the Iraqi gov­ern­ment under­goes its tran­si­tion.

“They have stayed on their mis­sion,” he said. “They have still con­duct­ed oper­a­tions. And the pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to have trust and con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to pro­vide inter­nal secu­ri­ty in the coun­try.”

This grow­ing capa­bil­i­ty, he said, “has enabled us to con­duct our respon­si­ble draw­down.”

Lan­za expressed hope the Iraqi gov­ern­ment gets seat­ed soon, mit­i­gat­ing recent inci­dents of vio­lence.

“I would still say there are chal­lenges here. I will still say there is vio­lence that will con­tin­ue,” he told MSNBC. “The impor­tant thing right now, I think every­one knows, is to get the gov­ern­ment seat­ed as quick­ly as pos­si­ble.”

As Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom winds down and Oper­a­tion New Dawn pre­pares to launch Sept. 1, Lan­za said the con­tin­u­ing U.S. mis­sion in Iraq is enabling Iraq to move for­ward.

“There’s a chance here for Iraq, in terms of where they are right now, to move for­ward, not only in this region, but also to help the peo­ple,” he said. “And I think what we’ve done here is we’ve giv­en them an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do that.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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