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 MNF-I Update 21 Jan

   

"On January 30, we will have an election - an Iraqi election. This is about the Iraqi people electing an Iraqi government that will write an Iraqi constitution. This is about the Iraqi people taking charge of their nation's future."

Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Commanding General, MNF-I.

Coalition and Iraqi security forces are cementing security conditions for elections.

Overall, attacks are down from November's peak and slightly above the level before transfer of sovereignty in June.

Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have captured or killed many expert bomb makers, and captured large amounts of bomb making material; consequently we are having an effect on quality, organization and planning.

Fourteen of 18 provinces experience four or fewer violent incidents a day.

Across Iraq last month, through searches and tips from Iraqis, more than 300 IEDs were found and destroyed.

With more than 500 caches captured in Fallujah alone, the Anbar province street price of an AK-47 is up over 200%.

Nearly 300,000 ISF and Coalition forces working in close coordination will be available for security on election day.

There will probably be violence on election day as former regime elements and foreign terrorists try to keep the Iraqi people from exercising their right to vote by intimidating and killing them - but they will fail.

Iraq's security forces - 129,000 strong - are the lynchpin to Iraq's future.

Fighting steadfastly alongside Coalition forces, the Iraqi army performed superbly in Najaf, Samarra and Fallujah.

At the transition of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government in June - just 7 months ago - there was no Iraqi Regular Army. Now there are 21 Iraqi Regular Army battalions. Including the Iraqi National Guard, there are 69 trained and equipped battalions in Iraq's armed forces, including units with tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Six new infantry battalions are now in training, along with a mechanized battalion and a transportation battalion. More than 3,500 new police officers are trained each month.

The Iraqi Army has 8 divisions manned by well-trained Iraqi soldiers: under Saddam Hussein weapons training for the average soldier meant firing three rounds per year. Today's Iraqi soldier fires over a thousand rounds in training.

The Iraqi Air Force has received C-130 transport aircraft.

The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces has prompted the Coalition to focus in 2005 on transitioning the counterinsurgency fight to these brave and capable patriots.

On January 30, Iraq will hold its "first true and free elections."

"There are only 10 days that separate us from the first true and free elections here in our country." -- Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi this week in Baghdad.

Preparations for some 5,500 polling locations in Iraq, five U.S. cities, and 13 additional countries are on track.

Over 63% of Iraqis polled believe there will be free and fair elections. Among Shia Muslim Iraqis, 91% believe it is "very important" for Iraqis to vote in the elections; 70% of Sunnis believe it's very important. (1/9/05 survey).

Iraqis in every one of Iraq's 18 provinces who want to vote will have the opportunity to vote.

On election day, some 140,000 election workers will be on duty.

More than 7,000 candidates are running for Iraq's national assembly.

Legitimacy of the elections is not dependent on participation or boycotts.

Elections on January 30 will be a great victory for the Iraqi people and for regional stability.

Release #050121u



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