We've got to ensure that the quality and the capability of these forces will be good enough to withstand the challenges that the insurgents and the terrorists will present to the new Iraqi government.
Morale is good; troops are confident; leaders are capable.
I think you also understand that one of the key things that's got to be done in Iraq is to build a mentality of understanding that the military needs to be subordinate to civilian control and respectful of its own people.
Everybody needs to understand that I learned Arabic from the United States Army as a second language. I never spoke it at home.
You don't build a new power plant in the United States overnight. It takes years to build.
But the truth of the matter is that there is there is an opportunity for them to participate in the economic and political future of the country and certainly in the security life of the country.
It's clear to me now that we've got to reach out to the Arab Sunni community in particular in an effort to cause some moderate political activity to take place so they join the future of Iraq.
Oh, the transition concerns me because as we move towards an important political event, it's clear to me that the terrorists and insurgents will move as hard as they can to disrupt this process.
Undoubtedly, there are members of the former regime that are cooperating in some fashion and then there are extremists that are within Iraq that are cooperating with them.
But as we move from this period of what many Iraqis regard as perceived occupation, we need to move towards one of partnership.
The power to prevent violence is a power that no police force seems to have anywhere in the United States.
The United States is the most powerful nation on Earth and it just can't walk away from the Middle East and central Asia and the Horn of Africa.
But clearly the fact that we've gone from zero Iraqi security forces on duty in May to up to 200,000 today is an enormous accomplishment, but it's not enough.
Certainly our goal is to leave Iraq, but we can't leave Iraq with our forces until we know that the Iraqi security forces are capable and efficient enough to defend the sovereignty of the nation.
Nobody's more mindful of the sacrifices of our troops than those of us that command them.
But my Arabic is pretty good. It's good enough to have conversations with people, to understand what they say, to understand what they're feeling.
I don't believe Iran is a suicide state.
And so I think that if the person has the funds, the network, and the equipment to do this, and also the experience, which is the key factor, then they can be quite deadly.
So, these political activities will create friction in and of themselves, and in this environment of friction there'll be additional violence.
Well, the hardest thing to do, as we know from our own experience on 9/11 is protect everything all the time.
And over time, I think, as Iraqi security capacity builds, you'll see American and coalition presence there decline.
Capturing any member of any terrorist cell or any insurgent cell that we may happen to come across is always very, very valuable, and the thing that interests me is that in most instances after a time people talk and they tell us what they know.
You know as well as I do that counterinsurgency is a very nuanced type of military operation.
We'll try to include Iraqi officers in our staffs. We will do everything we can to empower Iraqi security forces to stand up on their own and operate where they can alone.
But the key shift in focus will be from counter-insurgency operations to more and more cooperation with Iraqi security forces and to building Iraqi security capacity.
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