By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 5, 2007 – The next year will be an important time in Iraq, when the Iraqi government must take more responsibility for the country and the coalition must continue its commitment to creating a stable, unified Iraq, a top British general in Iraq said today. "In 2007, we really are in an interesting time in which we hope to see the government understanding its responsibilities and having the confidence to step up and take those responsibilities ... (and) the indigenous Iraqi security forces taking the full responsibility for their security," British Army Maj. Gen. Simon Mayall, deputy commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said in a Pentagon news conference via satellite.
This year will be a battle of wills in Iraq, Mayall said, as the coalition and the majority of Iraqis struggle against those who don't want a democratic, representative society that responds to the rule of law. The stakes are very high, and the Iraqi security forces and government need to see the strong commitment of the coalition as they grow and develop the ability to take over their own country, he said.
"Those people are absolutely relying on us in the coalition to continue to stand by them to give them the confidence to continue to defend the security of the Iraqi people, to develop their competence to do it, and to take forward this shared mission -- to deliver a new future to Iraq," he said.
When the Iraqis will be ready to take over security completely is conditions-based, Mayall said, but the important thing is to keep them in the fight and continue to develop their capabilities. Iraqi units fight alongside coalition forces every day, and they will continue to improve as they are given more responsibility, he said.
The Iraqi security forces are increasing the coalition's capacity, but a surge in troops alone will not be the answer for Iraq, Mayall said. A surge is needed in every element of the counterinsurgency operation, including development of the Iraqi government and ministerial capabilities, and economic development, he said.
"In any counterinsurgency operation, particularly the type of complexity of operation we're in at the moment, the security line of operation cannot and was never designed to deliver the desired end state," he said. "Therefore, around any application of military force, we must assume that the government of Iraq is also stepping up to the plate."
Speaking from the perspective of a British officer, Mayall said he is utterly impressed by the dedication and courage of the U.S. servicemembers in Iraq. Britain remains a staunch ally in the war on terror, he said, and he expressed optimism about Iraq's future.
"I remain utterly confident, with the commitment we have from the Iraqis and ourselves, that we are going to be successful in 2007," he said.
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