By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Increasing violence in Baghdad is due to sectarian tensions, and the solution to the problem will involve more than increased security forces, a Defense Department spokesman said here today. The U.S. will be shifting more forces into Baghdad to stem the violence, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's reconciliation plan and government activities are just as important in resolving the situation, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
"It's a more holistic approach in how you deal with the situation that has developed in Baghdad," he said. A sharp increase in civilian casualties in Baghdad can be attributed to the fact that civilians make easy targets for terrorists, Whitman said.
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multinational Force Iraq, has indicated that he can increase the number of troops in Baghdad with forces he already has in Iraq, Whitman said. As the shift occurs, the focus in the country will remain the same -- to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and the government to take over more security responsibilities, he said.
President Bush announced yesterday during a news conference with Maliki that additional U.S. military police will be moved to Baghdad from other parts of Iraq to help stem the increase in insurgent violence plaguing the city. The security situation in Iraq is always evolving, and some areas pose greater challenges than others, Whitman said. But, he added, progress still is being made in the country, and Iraqi forces are taking over security responsibilities on a weekly basis.