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CENTCOM Report, November 18: Iraq Update

18 November 2005

U.S. military says it must finish the job it started in Iraq

A U.S. Army officer who has logged 33,000 miles traversing southern, central and western portions of Iraq says the U.S. military has to finish the job it started.

Answering questions posed to him at his post in Balad, Iraq, by reporters via a teleconference link November 18, Army Colonel James Brown said the U.S. military’s job “is not done” in Iraq.

Brown is in charge of the 56th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, which provides secure escort for food and fuel supplies moving into Iraq from Kuwait and Jordan.  Since they arrived in January, his forces also have helped rebuild 15 Iraqi schools.

With some members of Congress in Washington calling for a U.S. exit strategy from Iraq, Brown was pressed for his analysis of the situation in Iraq.  The American military and political leadership has made it very clear, he said, that any exit from the Iraqi theater should be based on conditions that will be met when “the Iraqis are taking a front seat” politically, militarily and economically.

“We need to stay here and finish the job that we began,” Brown said.  “It’s important for the security of this nation … the security of this region,” and, he said, it is vital to the interests of the United States.

“My soldiers believe that we’ve made great strides” in supporting the democratization of Iraq,” he said.  Where there were once many Iraqis opposed to the idea of democracy in Iraq, there are now many participating in the democracy-building process, Brown said.  His soldiers, he added, “want to see that job finished.”

Asked to identify progress he has witnessed during his tenure as commander of “The Thunderbolt Brigade,” Brown said, “I’ve seen a tremendous increase in the economic traffic” of unescorted commercial vehicles hauling commodities around the country.  He also said he has seen Iraq become more secure.  (See related article.)

Brown’s brigade is scheduled to return to Texas soon.  Recapping some of its milestones, he said brigade forces protected 150,000 logistics vehicles and carried out 7,000 combat logistics patrols, mostly at night.

For more information about U.S. policy see Iraq Update.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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