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American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld, Myers Describe Enemy in Iraq to House Members

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2005 - The enemy in Iraq is made up of many different groups, defense leaders said here Feb. 16.

Intelligence professionals "have differing assessments . at different times," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told representatives that it is very hard to pin down the numbers of the insurgents.

Both men said there is no one enemy. The anti-Iraqi forces are made up of dedicated former Baathists, foreign terrorists and criminal elements. Former regime elements probably make up the largest percentage of the forces. They stand to win if a totalitarian regime comes back into power, Pentagon officials said, adding t ey also see their group losing ground to the forces of democracy.

Other groups are what some people call "jihadists." These groups have some Iraqi-born members and some foreigners. The al Qaeda-allied group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is representative of these terrorists, officials said. These groups are among the most deadly, and Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for some of the most horrific attacks in the country. The group has targeted Iraqi security forces and innocent Iraqi people in addition to trying to kill coalition members. Myers said this group is a small percentage of all terrorists in Iraq.

Common criminals who see the insurgency as a way to continue their illegal activities also are contributing to security problems in Iraq. Officials in Iraq said many of the prominent smuggling rings in the country often ally themselves with the former regime elements. Like Mafia families, they find common ground for a short period and then often turn on each other.

Finally, some unemployed Iraqis hire themselves out to launch terrorist operations. Providing jobs for Iraqis will help to end this threat, coalition officials said.

Myers said the insurgents generally are grouped in small cells. "As we capture individuals, you can't simply go into their paraphernalia and say, 'Aha, here's their organization background,' because they don't have one," he said.

The capabilities of these cells are limited, he said. "Outside of Fallujah, they have not used conventional military tactics to attack either Iraqis or ourselves," Myers said. "They use terrorism, they use extremism, they use beheadings; and that's probably the level of their capability, despite what the numbers might be."

The chairman said that the way to defeat an insurgency is not with numbers of troops. "Numbers aren't as important as good governance in Iraq, good economic conditions and infrastructure in Iraq, and a good communications policy in Iraq that communicates internally to the Iraqi people," he said.

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