What Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commanding general of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, is saying
About security for the January elections
"In June, there were several safe havens for terrorists and insurgents. Now Samarra's gone as a safe haven, Fallujah's gone, Najaf is gone. In Najaf, the Iraqi police are in charge. There's been great reconstruction. It's a different place than when they were under the intimidation of the Muqtada militia. There are no more terror safe havens in Iraq."
"Attacks are down. Car bomb attacks are down. Improved explosive device attacks are down. We're seeing that across the country. The level of attacks since the first of December across Iraq is just a bit higher than the level in April through June. The perception of violence that's created by television is not that way across Iraq. In fact, in 14 of the 18 provinces, there are four or fewer incidences of violence a day. That's indicative of the success we had in the Fallujah operation."
"The enemy we're fighting is not 10 feet tall, but he's resourceful and he's persistent."
"The Minister of Interior of Iraq is primarily responsible for election security. The Independent Election Committee of Iraq is basically responsible for logistical support. We will support both of them. We will provide a level of support in moving ballots where it exceeds their capability, or the security situation is beyond the capacity for the election committee. By and large, they'll do most of that themselves. We will provide broad area security coverage, while the Iraqi military and police provide security closer to the polling sites and polling centers. You won't see Coalition forces at the polling centers. You will see Iraqi police primarily, and those police will be supported by other Iraqi police and national guard. So, it will essentially be a ring concept around the polling centers."
"Between the Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces, we'll have close to 300,000 security forces available for election day. We and the Iraqi Security Forces will do everything in our power to ensure that the average Iraqi can go out and vote safely. Is there going to be violence on Election Day? There is, but it's important that we understand what's happening here. It's not just about violence. It's about former regime loyalists and foreign terrorists murdering innocent Iraqis and Iraqi security forces to stop them from exercising their right to vote."
About the nature and meaning of the January elections
"Eighty percent of the Iraqi people want to vote on January 30. That's what this is about. It's about voting for freedom and about voting to reject the former regime and reject foreign terrorists. There will be a vote on the 30th of January and it will be a great victory for the Iraqi people."
"This is an Iraqi election. It will be run by the Iraqis. It will be secured by the Iraqis, with some assistance from us. This is about the Iraqi people electing an Iraqi government that's going to write their constitution and preside over the ratification of an Iraqi constitution. This is about Iraqi people taking charge of their future."
"Violence will stay at about the same level for some time. Insurgencies, historically, take a long time to defeat. After the elections, you'll see the winners actively reaching out and embracing others to build an inclusive government and ensure that the development of the Constitution is an inclusive process. All of the senior Iraqis that I talked to in all of the parties share an understanding that the way forward for Iraq is to include all of the different ethnic and religious groups. That's hugely positive."
About the rebuilding of Iraq
"Good things happen in Iraq every day. In these kinds of environments, you don't make progress in leaps and bounds. You make progress a step at a time. You just keep taking a couple of steps forward every day and at the end of a year you turn around and say, 'Holy Mackerel! This is a different place'."
"We had 230-plus project starts in June. By 'started' I mean a person put a shovel in the ground and took a shovel full of dirt and was actually doing something. Not signed a contract, but something was happening. Now we are over 1,500 projects; $4.3 billion worth of projects have been started in that period. The folks who made that happen are men and women wearing the uniform, they're contractors from Coalition countries, they're Iraqis who stepped forward, and they're the great embassy staff."
"This is a counterinsurgency campaign, and in a counterinsurgency campaign, all of the elements of national power must work synergistically to defeat the insurgency. Getting to elections and making sure construction projects proceed is critically important to helping meet the expectations of the Iraqi people. We give people work so they have a job rather than a reason to join the insurgency. The military element of power will do part of this. But this is going to be won on the political and economic side. That is how we're going to defeat this insurgency."
"The progress of the Iraqi security forces is a positive theme. There were perhaps three battalions in June when we started. Now there are some 60 trained and equipped battalions. The Iraqis held their Army Day on Jan. 6 -- the 84th anniversary of the Iraqi Army. They activated nine divisions, nine Iraqi divisions, and there are real battalions underneath those divisions. They had a parade and they rolled their mechanized battalion around the corner. People in the stands actually gasped and started applauding - an Iraqi mechanized capability with tanks and armored personnel carriers. And there are some 13 battalions of special police. The air force has its first C-130s, not to mention some reconnaissance aircraft. There's been huge progress, so much so that our focus for us this year is transitioning the counterinsurgency fight to the Iraqis."
About our troops
"The folks back home should be just bursting with pride in what the service members of the United States of America and their Coalition partners are doing here in Iraq."
"Iraq is going to make the transition to democracy. It's going to triumph over the tyranny of the last 35 years. And a large part of that success is going to be because of the magnificent men and women of this Coalition, who have made that happen."
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