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Fact Sheet: Training Iraqi Security Forces

November 30, 2005

Today's Presidential Action:

Today, President Bush Addressed The Midshipmen Of The Naval Academy On The Strategy For Victory In Iraq, The Central Front Of The War On Terror. President Bush discussed the steps being taken to train the Iraqi military and police and the progress being made as Iraqis stand up to protect their strengthening democracy.

The Administration Released The "National Strategy For Victory In Iraq." The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq, and Americans should have a clear understanding of this strategy. Posted on the White House website,, this strategy document is available for all Americans to read.

  • The Strategy In Iraq Has Three Elements - A Political Component, A Security Component, And An Economic Component. Politically, America is helping Iraqis build inclusive democratic institutions to protect all Iraqis, engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq and marginalize those who never will. To strengthen security, the Coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive - clearing out areas controlled by the enemy, holding that territory using Iraqi forces, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives. The Coalition is also working with Iraqis to help them build capable and effective Iraqi security forces. Economically, America is helping the Iraqis restore infrastructure, reform the economy, and build the economic framework that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In achieving this, Coalition countries, the UN, international organizations, and supportive regional states are all helping Iraqis build their future.

The Enemy In Iraq

A Clear Strategy Begins With An Understanding Of The Enemy In Iraq. The enemy is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists.

  • Rejectionists. By far the largest group, these are ordinary Iraqis - mostly Sunni Arabs - who miss the privileged status they had under Saddam Hussein's regime. They reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group. While not all Sunnis fall into the rejectionist camp, most of those who do are not actively fighting, but are giving aid to the enemy. Many Sunnis boycotted the January elections but now recognize that opting out of the democratic process has hurt their interests. Today, those who advocate violent opposition are being increasingly isolated by Sunnis who choose to participate in the democratic process. Sunnis voted in the recent constitutional referendum in large numbers, and Sunni coalitions are forming to compete in coming elections. Over time, most rejectionists will be persuaded to support a democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is strong enough to protect minority rights.
  • Saddamists Or Former Regime Loyalists. This smaller, but more determined, group includes former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein and seek to return to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment among the larger Sunni community. But they cannot stop democratic progress. Over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces.
  • Terrorists Affiliated With Or Inspired By Al-Qaida. This is the smallest, but most lethal, group. Many are foreign fighters believed to be responsible for most of the suicide bombings, beheadings, and other atrocities seen on television. Led by Zarqawi, al-Qaida's chief of operations in Iraq who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, their objective is to drive U.S. and Coalition forces out; use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control; and use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. This enemy shares the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on 9/11 and many other cities across the world. If the United States was not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, these terrorists would not be idle, but plotting and killing in the name of their ideology. In Iraq, America's military is defeating a direct threat to the American people. America will never back down, give in, or accept anything less than complete victory.

Progress In Training Iraq Security Forces

To Defeat The Enemy, Iraqis Need Strong Military And Police Forces. Bringing skills and knowledge to the fight that Coalition forces cannot, Iraqi troops know their people, language, and culture. They know who the terrorists are and are earning the trust of their countrymen. As Iraqi forces grow in size and capability, they are helping to keep a better hold on cities and are increasingly taking the lead. The goal is to train enough Iraqi forces to carry the fight against the terrorists.

  • In The Past Year, Iraqi Security Forces Have Made Real Progress. This time last year, there were only a handful of combat-ready Iraqi battalions. Now, there are over 120 Iraqi Army and Police combat battalions in the fight - typically comprised of between 350 to 800 Iraqi forces. Of these, about 80 battalions are fighting alongside Coalition forces. About 40 other battalions are taking the lead, and most are controlling their own battle space and conducting their own operations with some Coalition support.
  • Iraqi Forces Are Taking The Lead. This progress is especially clear when comparing last year's assault in Fallujah and recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine Coalition battalions - with six Iraqi battalions supporting. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties but were primarily limited to protecting the flanks of Coalition forces and securing ground already cleared. This year in Tal Afar, the assault was primarily led by 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five Coalition battalions. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space. Many Iraqi forces have stayed behind to ensure the city's safety and move ahead with reconstruction projects. In October, the citizens of Tal Afar were able to vote on the constitutional referendum.
  • Iraqi Forces Are Taking Control Of More Territory. Today, over 30 Iraqi Army battalions have assumed primary control of their own areas of responsibility. In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major sectors - including some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. Iraqi troops are securing the area around Baghdad's Haifa street, and roughly ninety square miles of Baghdad province. Across the country, Iraqi battalions are making similar strides, taking responsibility of areas in South-Central, Southeast, Western, and North-Central Iraq. As Iraqi forces take control of more territory, Coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value terrorist targets.
  • Coalition Bases Are Being Transferred To Iraqi Control. As Iraqi forces take over more territory, the Coalition is transferring forward operating bases to Iraqi control. Over a dozen bases have been handed over to the Iraqi government - including Saddam Hussein's former palace in Tikrit. From many of these bases, the Iraqi Security Forces are planning and executing their own operations against the terrorists.
  • By Any Reasonable Standard, The Iraqi Security Forces Are Making Progress. Some critics point to the fact that only one Iraqi battalion has achieved complete independence from the Coalition. To achieve complete independence, an Iraqi battalion must not only fight the enemy on its own but also provide its own support elements, including logistics, airlift, intelligence, and command and control through their ministries. There are some battalions from NATO militaries would not be able to meet this standard. But not every Iraqi unit has to meet this level of capability for the Iraqi Security Forces to take the lead in the fight against the terrorists.

Progress Has Resulted Because Of Changes Made In Helping Train Iraqi Troops. Learning from earlier experiences, the Coalition has changed its approach to training. Now, Iraqi Army recruits receive about the same length of basic training as new U.S. Army recruits. With Coalition help, Iraqis have established schools for the Iraqi military services, an Iraqi military academy, a non-commissioned officer (NCO) academy, a military police school, and a bomb disposal school. NATO has established an Iraqi Joint Staff College as well. There is also an increased focus on leadership training, including professional development for Iraqi squad leaders, platoon sergeants, warrant officers, and sergeants-major. A new generation of Iraqi officers is being trained to lead their forces with skill, defeat the terrorists, and secure their freedom.

  • Changes Have Been Made To Iraqi Police Training. At first, Iraqi police recruits spent too much time in classroom lectures and received limited small-arms training. Now, recruits spend more of their time outside the classroom with intensive hands-on training in anti-terrorism operations and learning real-world survival skills. Iraq has six basic police academies, and one in Jordan, that together produce over 3,500 new police officers every 10 weeks. The Baghdad police academy has simulation models to prepare Iraqi police for real-life situations. Because Iraqi police are not facing common criminals, they are getting live-fire training with the AK-47s they need to fight the terrorists.
  • Recruits Are Being Instructed By Iraqi Officers. When the training effort began, nearly all the trainers came from Coalition countries. Today, the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are taught by Iraqi instructors. By training the trainers, an institutional capability is being created to allow the Iraqi Forces to continue to develop and grow long after Coalition forces have left Iraq.
  • The Quality Of Recruits Is Improving. Even though Iraqi police and army recruits are being targeted by the terrorists, there is no shortage of Iraqis willing to risk their lives to secure a free Iraq. As Iraqi Security Forces become larger and more capable, more Sunnis are being encouraged to join the Iraqi army and police. These efforts were given a significant boost when more than 60 influential Sunni clerics issued a fatwa calling on young Sunnis to join the Iraqi Security Forces. These religious leaders are helping to make Iraqi Security Forces a truly national institution able to serve, protect, and defend all Iraqis.

The Coalition Is Helping Iraqis Build The Institutions They Need To Support Their Forces. North of Baghdad, a national depot has been established to supply the logistical needs of the 10 Iraqi Army divisions. Regional and base support units across the country are supplying Iraqi troops. Iraq's Air Force and Navy are conducting operations to support Iraqi troops and protect vital ports. The Iraqi Military Intelligence School is producing skilled Iraqi intelligence analysts and collectors. By taking these steps, the Coalition is helping Iraqi Security Forces become self-supporting, take the fight to the enemy, and sustain themselves in that fight.

As Iraqi Forces Become More Capable, The Mission Will Continue To Change. Coalition forces will continue to shift from providing security and conducting nationwide operations, to conducting more specialized operations targeting the most dangerous terrorists. Coalition troops will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys. As Iraqi forces gain experience, and the political process advances, the United States will be able to decrease its troop levels in Iraq without losing the capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions will be driven by ground conditions and the commanders' judgments - not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.

Pulling Out The Troops Before They Have Achieved Their Purpose Is Not A Plan For Victory. An artificial deadline would send a message around the world that America is a weak and unreliable ally. It would send a signal to the enemy that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run. It would vindicate the tactics of beheadings, suicide bombings, and mass murder - and invite new attacks on America. The President pledges that America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as he is Commander in Chief.

Victory In Iraq

We Are Helping The Iraqi Security Forces To Secure Democracy And A Free Future. In just over two-and-a-half years, Iraqis have made incredible political progress from living under a brutal tyrant to liberation, free elections, and a democratic constitution. On December 15, they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead the country for the next four years. With each ballot cast, the Iraqi people are sending a message that they will not be intimidated and will determine their own destiny.

The President Will Settle For Nothing Less Than Complete Victory In Iraq. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, Iraqi Security Forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and Iraq is not at risk of becoming a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against America. As progress is made toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security and fewer U.S. forces will be needed. Iraq will not be left to the terrorists. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East - and this will add to the security of the American people.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Training Iraqi Security Forces Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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