In a recent speech, President George W. Bush explained the changes the United States has made in its approach to helping Iraq's democratically elected government implement its plan to secure the capital, Baghdad, stemming violence and acts of terrorism:
"I've ordered reinforcements of more than twenty thousand additional combat soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and where they will partner with Iraqi units. The Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and murderers, and roaming death squads."
In the past, said President Bush, U.S. forces would help Iraqis clear out neighborhoods and then depart, which meant that insurgents would often return after the U.S. forces left. Now, he said, U.S. and Iraqi forces will hold cleared neighborhoods by setting up more than thirty "joint security stations" throughout Baghdad:
"These will be neighborhood outposts where Iraqi forces, with U.S. help, will be deployed twenty-four hours a day to secure the population, provide emergency aid to the communities, and gather information to root out extremist networks throughout the capital. At the same time, our forces will continue to train the Iraqi army and police, so that we can help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing security that Baghdad needs."
The new approach, said President Bush, has started yielding results:
"Already, about half of the joint security stations have been established in neighborhoods across Baghdad. Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than seven-hundred people affiliated with Shia extremists. They have recovered large weapons caches, including mortar weapons systems and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi and American forces have also launched successful operations against the Sunni extremists."
Iraqi and U.S. forces are making gradual but important progress almost every day, said President Bush. They will remain steadfast, he said, until their objectives are achieved.