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Washington Forum Discusses Iraq Security Issues - 2003-11-04

A top U.S. official says coalition forces continue to face deadly opposition from terrorists who are against freedom in Iraq. Some speakers at a forum in Washington Tuesday say more resources are needed in Iraq before the country can be secure.

Despite continued attacks against coalition forces by Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the United States is winning the fight for peace in the country. "This was a regime that ruled by terror, and it still seeks to come back to power by terror. And they cannot be allowed to succeed," he said. Mr. Wolfowitz said most of Iraq is peaceful.

But a former State Department official at a forum on the future of Iraq says there are now still not enough forces operating in the country to establish security. James Dobbins, from the RAND research organization, says before the war began his group estimated about 500,000 security forces would be needed to establish public safety. "I think we need to get realistic about the manpower needs. We need to acknowledge that this is probably a job beyond the capacity of even the world's only superpower to do alone. I think that there are a lot of good things going on in Iraq. But all of this is going to be like a sandcastle on a beach. It'll be washed away if we don't master the security situation," he said.

Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz says Iraqis continue to volunteer to serve their country at a rate unmatched in any nation rebuilding situation over the past decade. He says about 100,000 Iraqis now serve in the various branches of the country's security forces, and the number rises daily.

But he acknowledged that the coalition must establish security to make sure the progress already made will last. "To win this battle and to sustain the support of the courageous Iraqis who are on the front lines with us, it is crucial that we send a clear and strong signal that the United States will be with them until we are no longer needed," he said.

Mr. Wolfowitz said it is unclear when coalition forces will be able to leave Iraq. RAND researcher James Dobbins said he does not know of a single successful instance of nation rebuilding in less than seven years.