Rumsfeld: Security to Remain Coalition's Task After June 30
Washington -- The turnover of political sovereignty in Iraq on June 30 is not
to be confused with coalition forces turning over responsibility for security
then, says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"The deadline applies to political governance of the country. It does not apply
to the security responsibility," Rumsfeld pointed out. "There is no plan to
change the security situation on June 30th. The only thing that changes is ...
the political situation, as to where sovereignty resides," he said, adding that
he had "not seen anything that would suggest that that date should be extended."
Rumsfeld made his remarks April 6 at a press conference with NATO
Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer during a seminar on military
transformation capabilities at the Allied Command Transformation headquarters in
Asked about direct NATO involvement in Iraq, de Hoop Scheffer responded that
several political developments that could affect that decision are in
play: the role the United Nations would have in Iraq after June 30; the ability
to obtain a new U.N. Security Council resolution specifically mandating a
longer-term, international stabilization force there; and the wishes of the new,
sovereign Iraqi government.
He could not predict at the moment, he said, how a discussion on the matter, if
held, would turn out, but he noted that 17 of the 26 NATO nations are already on
the ground in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition.
De Hoop Scheffer said that Afghanistan is NATO's top priority. The alliance has
responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul
and is expanding its involvement by providing force protection for some
provincial reconstruction teams outside the capital. The secretary-general
characterized this effort as "a major obligation the alliance has entered into."
"I said in the beginning [of his term as secretary-general], I want to see that
political commitment ... completely and fully translated into the military
resources that requires," he said. He also said that Afghanistan will hold
elections this September and NATO is looking at ways to support the electoral
Rumsfeld agreed that the focus of NATO is Afghanistan, as its first
out-of-treaty-area mission. He also said the United States has been encouraging
the United Nations to play a vital role in Iraq and there have been discussions
about an additional U.N. Security Council resolution. "I would be delighted to
see NATO take a larger role [in Iraq]," he said.
Regarding the recent attacks in Iraq's "Sunni triangle" area north of Baghdad,
Rumsfeld pointed out that coalition forces had entered Iraq from the south "and
the Iraqi forces pretty well threw in the towel about the time that the forces
moved up through Baghdad. The area north of Baghdad," he said, "the area [where]
Saddam Hussein had the highest concentration of support, was an area that really
never saw the battles during that early period."
As a result, he said, those Iraqi soldiers and members of the special forces of
Fedayeen Saddam and the Republican Guard "just disappeared into their homes."
Some of these former remnants of the regime, as well as foreign terrorists, are
involved in "attempting to reestablish their authorities," he said.
He also said the coalition, working with photographs of people involved in the
killing and mutilation of four American security contractors in Fallujah, is
engaged in a methodical effort to capture the perpetrators.