By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2006 – Additional U.S. military police will deploy to Baghdad to serve alongside Iraqi law enforcement officers, President Bush said here today following a White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The move is part of a new strategy to stem stepped up insurgent violence plaguing the city. "This plan will involve embedding more U.S. military police with Iraqi police units to make them more effective," Bush said in a news briefing.
The reinforcements will be sent to Baghdad in coming weeks from other parts of Iraq, Bush said. "Our military commanders tell me that this deployment will better reflect the current conditions on the ground in Iraq," he said. Maliki is in Washington to discuss Iraq strategy with Bush and other senior U.S. officials. He concurred that more U.S. troops are needed in Baghdad. A second tier of the new strategy aims to provide Iraqi security forces, especially police, with better equipment and tactics.
"We have agreed that building the security and military institutions in Iraq in terms of numbers, equipment, firearms -- and as quickly as possible -- represents the fundamental base in order to stabilize the country and to have security and defeat terrorism," Maliki said. Bush echoed Maliki's assessment. "Iraqi security forces need better tools to do their job," Bush said. "And so we'll work with them to equip them with greater mobility, fire power and protection."
The key to defeating the insurgency in Iraq is to remain on the offense, including in Baghdad, Bush said. Although he acknowledged that current insurgent actions -- including bombings, murders and kidnappings -- are challenging coalition and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and some other areas, Bush remained upbeat. "No question it's tough in Baghdad, and no question it's tough in other parts of Iraq," he said. "But, there are also places where progress is being made, and the prime minister and I talked about that progress."
Iraqi security forces are growing and gaining in capability, Bush said. Maliki noted that Iraqi police recently took over security control in Muthanna province. "This is a very important step (and) will be followed by similar steps in many other governorates in Iraq," he said.
Bush and Maliki agreed to establish a joint committee to achieve Iraqi security self-reliance. The new security partnership "will seek to ensure the smoothest and most effective assumption of security responsibility by the Iraqi forces," Bush said.
Maliki said he appreciated the United States' assistance and the sacrifices made by its servicemembers. "We are determined to defeat terrorism," Maliki said. He added that Iraq wants to join the international community.
Bush said America is firmly in Maliki's camp. "Prime Minister Maliki was very clear this morning," the president said. "He said he does not want American troops to leave his country until his government can protect the Iraqi people. And, I assured him that America will not abandon the Iraqi people," Bush said.