7.23.2005

Iraq Report Measures Political, Economic, Security Improvements

Defense Department must recalibrate metrics every 90 days

Washington - A new 23-page report on Iraq prepared by the Defense Department at the behest of Congress finds that a still virulent, but largely confined, Iraqi insurgency has failed to derail that country's movement toward democracy.

The fact that the insurgency has failed so far to stall the political process is an "important indicator" and a key factor to watch, according to Peter Rodman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for international affairs. "The strategic prize in this is the political process," he told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon on July 21 called to outline the findings of the new report.

Rodman said the chronology for political developments in Iraq continues to include the delivery of a draft constitution by August 15, followed by a national referendum on October 15, and then new elections on December 15 for a permanent constitutional government.

Army Lieutenant General Walter Sharp, who serves as the director of strategic plans and policies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the attacks by insurgents are primarily concentrated in four of 18 Iraqi provinces where 84 percent of attacks have been occurring. He also said that the numbers of insurgent attacks are now still fewer than during the initial period of sovereignty in Iraq.

Sharp also pointed out that recent polls taken in Iraq show that the will of the general population has not been broken by insurgent efforts. The spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq, Air Force Brigadier General Donald Alston told reporters July 21 that the will of the Iraqi people cannot be broken because of their determination, resiliency and strength. "The people of Iraq want a constitution and they want a constitutionally-based, democratically-elected government and those things are coming," he said.

POSITIVE INDICATORS

One positive security indicator is the fact that 171,000 police and military personnel from Iraq's ministries of Defense and Interior are working to defeat crime and negative forces of instability. A downside of that effort, however, is that insurgent attacks are increasingly focusing on easier, softer targets, thereby driving up the number of civilian casualties, according to Sharp.

Examining another sector of Iraqi society, Sharp pointed out that judicial advances are under way. Iraq's pursuit of the rule of law, he said, has produced 300 court cases reaching the trial phase and resulting in 353 convictions.

Another positive indicator in Iraq is the level of economic activity, as well as evidence of newly forming business, Rodman said. "We see a lot of economic activity as we see the beginnings of a modern market economy," he said.

The report states that the United States is contributing to the expansion of private sector activity through programs that provide microfinance loans, bank lending to small and medium sized enterprises, capital market development, business skills development, vocational training, investment promotion, business center support and the creation of economic zones.

The report, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, provides a snapshot in time, because the Defense Department must recalibrate its economic, political and security metrics and issue another report to Congress in 90 days.

Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the Pentagon July 21 for classifying key portions of the new report.

In remarks that pre-dated the report's release, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Pentagon analysts had no intention of revealing information to the insurgents about the strengths and weaknesses of Iraqi security forces.

The full text (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/d20050721secstab.pdf) (PDF, 23 pages) of the unclassified portions of the PDF report and a transcript (http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050721-3441.html) of the remarks about the report by Rodman and Sharp are available on the Defense Department Web site.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

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