Iraqi Forces Make Progress, General Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2010 — With all U.S. troops sched­uled to be out of Iraq by 2012, Iraqi forces are work­ing to secure the coun­try against insur­gents, the U.S. Forces Iraq deputy com­man­der for oper­a­tions said today.

Speak­ing with Pen­ta­gon reporters from Bagh­dad in a video tele­con­fer­ence, Army Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone said Iraq is mov­ing clos­er toward self-suf­fi­cien­cy as rough­ly 50,000 Amer­i­can troops in Oper­a­tion New Dawn serve as advisors. 

“Direct com­bat oper­a­tions end­ed Sept. 1, but our com­mit­ment to Iraq and its peo­ple has not end­ed,” Cone said. “One year ago, U.S. forces were in the streets with them, and now we’re in an advi­so­ry [role].”

Cone said U.S. troops have three key mis­sions in Iraq: to advise, train and assist Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces; to part­ner with Iraqis for coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions to sup­port the new gov­ern­ment, the U.S. embassy and oth­er U.S. agen­cies; and to work to improve Iraq’s civ­il capacities. 

With­in those mis­sions is a focus on strength­en­ing the Iraq secu­ri­ty forces, devel­op­ing com­bat sys­tems and intel­li­gence and logis­tics func­tions for the new Iraq gov­ern­ment, Cone said. This requires work­ing with Iraqis so they are a “learn­ing and adapt­ing orga­ni­za­tion,” he added. 

“I keep pres­sure on extrem­ist net­works,” he said. “The capa­bil­i­ty to con­duct coun­tert­er­ror­ist oper­a­tions is essen­tial to main­tain the secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment over the long haul here in Iraq.” 

Cone said insur­gent attacks in Iraq are down by 20 per­cent com­pared to the 2009 aver­age, at about 14 to 15 per day across the country. 

“I can cite sig­nif­i­cant progress on the part of the Iraqi spe­cial oper­a­tions forces com­mu­ni­ty,” he said. “More than 650,000 Iraq secu­ri­ty forces are ful­ly respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing a secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment in Iraq today, so, I think it’s been a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment over­all. I think they’ve had some mod­icum of success.” 

But work remains to be done, the gen­er­al acknowledged. 

“The [Iraqis] have work to do in a num­ber of spe­cial­ty-type capa­bil­i­ties,” Cone said. “They have an emerg­ing explo­sive ordi­nance detach­ment capa­bil­i­ty, some emerg­ing foren­sic capa­bil­i­ties [and] some route-clear­ance capabilities.” 

Cone said he and his troops will con­tin­ue their role to work with and assist the Iraq peo­ple in the next 14 months. 

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

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