A press conference discussing the status of security and the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Iraq was held at the Combined Press Information Center in the International Zone Wednesday.
Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, U.S. Embassy Baghdad charge d’affaires, and Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesperson, talked about the progress that has been made and the continuing efforts that will make Iraq a safer country.
“As you all know, the Multi-National Force is in a new phase of operations,” said Caldwell. “We’re working with the Iraqi people to secure progress and provide hope.”
Although the additional Coalition forces are still being deployed to fully implement Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon, those who have already arrived have made a difference, Caldwell said.
“Two of the five additional American brigades that we have committed to this effort are currently in place and conducting daily operations here within the city of Baghdad,” Caldwell said.
There are accomplishments the Iraqi Security Force has made which shows how much they have improved.
“On Saturday, a terrorist attempted to commit mass murder with a car bomb in the Sadr City area of Baghdad,” said Caldwell. “Seven Iraqi Soldiers sacrificed their lives to prevent him from getting through the checkpoint to attack innocent civilians.”
Additionally, another car bomb attempt was disrupted in Ramadi Monday when the Iraq Security Force fired on the vehicle causing it to prematurely explode resulting in the wounding of three Iraqi Soldiers, eight civilians and two children, said Caldwell.
“We honor their bravery and we send our condolences to their families,” Caldwell said of the fallen Iraqi Soldiers.
Improvements in Iraq went beyond security when the Iraqi government began passing legislations and budgets, Speckhard said.
Last month the government of Iraq passed a comprehensive new budget that set aside $7 billion for security-related expenses and committed a record $10 billion to vital infrastructure and reconstruction projects.
“Passing budgets is politically challenging even in developed democracies, so it’s all the more notable for a unity government less than a year old to pass such legislation,” Speckhard said.
The Iraqi government also proved its maturation when it hosted the first international conference in Baghdad since 1990.
The conference ended with regional and international partners endorsing a pledge to fight terrorism, enhance security supporting peace and stability for the people of Iraq, said Speckhard.
“This was an important first step for the government of Iraq in building cooperation from all its neighbors and stemming the violence, supporting reconciliation and addressing economic concern,” Speckhard said.
We are working with the Iraqi forces to create an environment that will secure progress and provide hope, Caldwell said.
“In the end, Iraq needs political and economic solutions,” said Caldwell. “The Multi-National Force is committed to creating the security that is necessary for this progress.”
By Alan Gray