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Defense Briefing

Aired October 30, 2003 - 13:36   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepping up to the mic to address reporters. We'll listen in to today's briefing.

General Myers is not here, as you have noticed. My friend is meeting with the chief of the armed services of Spain at the present time.

The task in Iraq remains difficult and dangerous. But as Jerry Bremer and John Abizaid, who were here, have said, there has been progress across a range of coalition activities over the past six months.

Our plan called for the establishment of an Iraqi cabinet of ministers, and the coalition did it in four months. It took 14 months in postwar Germany.

The plan called for the establishment of an independent Iraqi central bank. The coalition did it in two months. It took three years in postwar Germany.

Our plan called for the establishment of a new Iraqi currency. The coalition announced a new currency in two months and began circulating new Iraqi dinars in five months. It took three years in postwar Germany.

The plan called for the establishment of a new Iraqi police force. The coalition accomplished it in two months. It took 14 months in postwar Germany.

The plan called for the establishment of a new Iraqi army. The coalition began training within three months, and the first battalion had completed training in less than five months. It took 10 years in postwar Germany.

In less than six months, we've gone from zero Iraqis providing security to their country -- you don't have that chart, there it is -- to close to 100,000 Iraqis currently under arms.

Indeed, the progress has been so swift that Iraq is already the second largest of the security forces in the coalition. It will not be long before they will be the largest and outnumber the U.S. forces. And it shouldn't be too long thereafter that they will outnumber all coalition forces combined. Some have suggested that any statement that raises awareness of these successes is putting an optimistic face on a difficult security situation. Not so. Every time we've discussed progress in Iraq, I have made clear that the situation in the country remains dangerous, and that there will be setbacks.

RUMSFELD: Nonetheless, we have made an effort to point out the progress because, until we did so, progress was being largely ignored in the press. The American people were hearing plenty about terrorist bombings and sabotage, which exists, but precious little about the achievements that have been racked up by the brave men and women, both civilian and military, who are serving in Iraq.

The difficult security situation makes the progress being made all the more remarkable. Not only has the coalition managed to outpace the progress in postwar Germany, Japan, Bosnia or Kosovo, they have done it under fire, while fighting a dangerous low-intensity conflict. And they have done it not in a pacified country, but while fighting criminals as well as regime remnants and terrorists who are aggressively seeking to stop their progress.

Earlier today, some seven or eight members of the Congress, women who traveled to Iraq very recently, were at breakfast with us and came down here to meet with the members of the Pentagon press. And I saw a portion of their briefing and I also heard them at breakfast. And Republicans and Democrats alike were struck by the progress that they see being made in that country.

The terrorists are attacking the successes that are occurring. They're killing an increasingly large number of Iraqis: an Iraqi women member of the governing council, Iraqis graduating from the police academy and the like.

But those attacks will not deter the coalition. We will stay in Iraq as long as necessary to finish the job. The president has said, unambiguously, that he will stay the course and that is exactly what we will do to the great benefit of the Iraqi people, the region and the world.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, despite the progress that you cite here on cabinet ministers, ministries, bank notes, schools and other areas, international organizations seems to be responding to these increasing car-bombing attacks in Baghdad and, in a word, seem to be exiting Baghdad.

The U.N. said in Geneva today it was pulling the rest of its international staff out of Baghdad. And the ICRC said yesterday -- or earlier this week; perhaps yesterday -- that it was reducing its staff.

What is your reaction to that? And are any, any extraordinary short-term measures being planned, perhaps increasing troops in Baghdad or changing the mix, to curb these car bombings?

PHILLIPS: We'll continue to monitor the briefing here with the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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