Enemy losing support in Iraq

Brig. Gen. C.D. Alston:

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The proven success of the Iraqi security forces has led to strong public support in the region and a corresponding drop in support for al Qaeda in Iraq. This is evident in that 50 percent of all IEDs found in the Kirkuk area last week were a direct result of tips from local citizens. This type of citizen involvement in neighborhoods and cities across the country exposes the enemies of Iraq, decreases their ability to survive, and ultimately leads to reduced levels of violence.

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However, the insurgency, even without the surge, is showing little capacity to sustain numerous and persistent elevated attack levels. Its diminishing capability can be attributed to three things.

The first is the joint offensive operations that have been launched by coalition forces and Iraqi security forces over the course of the last several months, all of which were focused on defeating terrorists and foreign fighters, and disrupting the insurgency. Those operations were accomplished with great effect.

The second factor is the progressive training and equipping of Iraqi security forces. They continue to grow, with phenomenal capabilities. Today there are 223,000 trained and equipped members of the Iraqi security forces. They made great contributions to and are in large part responsible for the safe and secure environment on December 15th.

The third factor is active Sunni participation in the political process. The choice of ballots over bullets was a very positive development.

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The world watched in 2005 as the number of Iraqi units able to take the lead in combat operations against the insurgency increased. There are now 120 Iraqi army and special operations battalions conducting combat operations against the enemy, 40 of which are assessed as being in the lead in defending Iraq and protecting the progress -- process of democracy. A year ago, there were none.

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We have seen over time an increase in small arms fire attacks. And as we examine the insurgency and we try to establish his current capabilities, his current vulnerabilities, his current intent, we -- you ask yourself at some point, are they doing what they can, or if they could -- you know, or are they doing what they should or what they want to? If they're being denied other methods of attack, what do they resort to if they can't achieve the mass casualty effects that they historically have tried to achieve, in the case of the terrorists and Zarqawi's enterprise.

So this increase in small arms fire attack, the targeting of specific individuals and assassinations, those numbers have gone up. And this is just another attempt by the terrorists and foreign fighters to find another way to try to expose another vulnerability, another method to try to derail the democratic process in Iraq. And so it is not surprising that we would see them try another avenue of approach to try and have an impact on the democratic process....

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