By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2006 – Americans should not be surprised if tactics in Iraq change, since the situation in Iraq has evolved, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today during a Pentagon news conference. Rumsfeld said commanders in Iraq are constantly adjusting their tactics, techniques and procedures to counter changes the enemy makes. "They are always reviewing the situation," he said.
The secretary said he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, meet constantly with coalition leaders in Iraq. In fact, U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. John Abizaid will meet with Rumsfeld, Pace and President Bush and Vice President Cheney tomorrow to review the circumstances in Iraq and discuss the way forward.
The secretary said coalition and Iraqi officials expected an upsurge in violence during Ramadan. "It has (happened) in previous years," he said.
Rumsfeld said the overall strategy will work. "All along, we've indicated that we are developing capabilities in Iraq in terms of governance progress, economic progress and security progress," he said.
There will be setbacks, he said. While the Iraqis have been able to assume some of the security burden, sometimes they cannot, and coalition troops have to go back and reassume responsibility. "It is never going to be a straight, smooth, steady path," he said. "And this may happen in the future.
The secretary said U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Multinational Force Iraq commander, are working with the Iraqi government "to develop a set of projections as to when they think they can pass off various pieces of responsibility."
Rumsfeld said the Iraqis must continue to assume responsibility. "The biggest mistake would be not to pass over responsibility to the Iraqis and create a dependency on their part, instead of developing strength and capacity and confidence," Rumsfeld said.
"It's their country," he continued. "They're going to have to govern it, they're going to have to provide security for it, and they're going to have to do it sooner rather than later. And that means they've got to take pieces of it as we go along, even though someone may inaccurately characterize it as a strategic mistake, which it wouldn't be at all."