Rumsfeld defends Iraqi forces; says more funds on the way
ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday defended Iraqi security forces’ performance and said U.S. defense officials are working to increase their budgets and capabilities.
At a news conference Thursday, Rumsfeld responded angrily to a question on how the Iraqis could meet future security benchmarks when their security forces so far have been unable to meet such deadlines.
“That is false: Every time a security benchmark has been laid down the Iraqis failed to meet it — wrong,” Rumsfeld fired back.
He said training for Iraqi security forces has been proceeding in an “orderly, reasonable way.”
“They’re doing a good job. When we said that they would handle the bulk of the security for the last election, they did,” he said.
When pressed further, he said the security forces have seen both successes and failures so far.
“Look at this way: Have there been instances — many instances — when the Iraqi security forces have been able to do precisely what was intended and what was predicted? Answer: yes.
“Have there been instances where they were not able to do what was predicted and hoped for or intended? The answer: yes.”
He added there are some times when coalition troops have needed to reassume security responsibility from Iraqi forces.
“That’s part of this process,” he said. “It is not a smooth road. It’s a bumpy road. We know that. There’s no surprise to it.
“But anyone who runs around denigrating the Iraqi security forces and minimizing their capability is making a mistake and doesn’t understand the situation,” he said.
Rumsfeld did not provide any further details on the budget or equipment increases.
Rumsfeld’s comments come in a year in which U.S. commanders had hoped to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq, but were forced to increase U.S. troop strength amid growing sectarian violence in the country.