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10 April 2003

Iraqi Security Situation Is Erratic, Pentagon Says

(Pentagon Report, April 10: Iraq Operational Update) (970)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer


Washington --- Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke says the security
situation is erratic throughout Iraq, but that some local leaders in
the south, including clerics, are encouraging Iraqis not to loot.

Speaking with Clarke to reporters April 10, Vice Director of
Operations for the Joint Staff Army Major General Stanley McChrystal
said it will take some time to create a safe and secure environment
for the Iraqi people. He acknowledged that looting is a problem in
many cities, but he said it is not a major threat. For now, he said
coalition forces are focused on the task of defeating remaining
elements of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Asked for his assessment of operations in Kirkuk in the north,
McChrystal said the situation has been very fluid, but he pointed out
that the Iraqi people and not the Iraqi regime control it. In response
to a reporter's question, he also said there have not been any
significant surrenders by Iraqi forces in the north.

Coalition forces are "very wary," he said, of what they will encounter
in the north around Tikrit, where they may find combinations of
Republic Guards, Saddam's Fedayeen and Ba'athist elements. McChrystal
said coalition forces will be prepared for a big fight should the
regime try to mount a last stand there, but he also said Iraqi combat
power had been significantly degraded in that area.

The fact that the primary task of coalition forces is winning the war
does not mean that other tasks are not under way, according to Clarke.
Collaboration is ongoing with humanitarian organizations and the
International Committee of the Red Cross to provide relief for
populations in need, she said.

Clarke said there is concern within various communities --- military
and humanitarian -- about moving aid as rapidly as possible, and the
coalition is working very hard at getting the Iraqi people what they
need. She referred to earlier comments by Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld in which he said the suffering of the Iraqi people did not
begin with "Operation Iraqi Freedom;" instead, he said they had been
long suffering under Saddam Hussein's reign.

"The war didn't launch a humanitarian crisis," Clarke said, "it is
ending one, however." Once free of that regime, she said, the Iraqi
people and their economy "will have a chance to recover and grow."

In response to criticism leveled at the military for a slow response
to humanitarian assistance, McChrystal said the military "can't do
everything at once." First, he said, threatening elements such as the
Special Republic Guard forces and "death squads" must be defeated.

Clarke said substantial amounts of food and medical aid are flowing in
from the coalition. In fact, in a briefing broadcast earlier April 10
into the Pentagon from Umm Qasr, U.S. Army Brigadier General John Kern
said he has teams of Free Iraqi Forces (FIF) who are going in to all
parts of the country to determine local requirements for food, water
and electricity. Their presence really speeds up efforts to get in to
local neighborhoods for these kinds of assessments, the commander of
352nd Civil Affairs Command said. There are nearly 70 FIF helping to
build trust in communities where they once lived, he added, and to
reassure vulnerable populations that the coalition is not leaving them
to fend for themselves.

Among some of the other points Clarke made:

-- More than 200,000 tons of food, water and medicine has been
unloaded in Umm Qasr from the British ship Sir Galahad;

-- More than 50,000 tons of wheat have been shipped by the United
States;

--  100,000 tons of wheat have been shipped by Australia; and

-- Both President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have
urged the United Nations to resume Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program.

Clarke provided an update on the status of a variety of Iraqi cities
and towns. She said:

-- Umm Qasr has had its electricity restored, and its water supply
exceeds prewar levels. Medical facilities there are described as
operating and "sufficient," with the U.N. Children's Fund providing
supplies. Additional medical supplies and food has been delivered by
Spain. The Czech Republic is building a hospital for Iraqi prisoners
of war.

-- Basrah's power is functioning again and food supplies are deemed
"sufficient." Medical supplies are back up to prewar levels and some
60- to 80 percent of the city has water, with more being trucked in to
the city's suburbs.

-- An Nasiriyah has enough food, but water is very limited. Health
care is described as "rudimentary" and the electrical supply is
inconsistent. The U.S. Agency for International Development is sending
health kits that have enough supplies for 5,000 people for three
months.

-- As Samawa has a couple of months worth of stockpiled food. Medical
requirements are being evaluated. Water and electricity are not yet
normalized.

-- An Najaf still needs power and water restored, but there are no
food shortages. Its hospital is up and running. The Kuwaiti Joint Red
Crescent Society has been instrumental in trucking in water, food and
medicines.

-- Baghdad has food, but power is intermittent. There is no water
crisis, but hospitals are described as running "at reduced rates."

Besides her city-specific assessments, Clarke said food, water,
medicine and electricity is at prewar levels in the north. She said
UNICEF trucks are hauling in 32 tons of hospital equipment and other
supplies. Another 11 UNICEF trucks are also heading to southern Iraq,
according to the spokeswoman.

On another subject, McChrystal told a reporter he remains "very
concerned" about the status of American prisoners of war. However, he
said now that U.S. forces are in Baghdad, the chance of learning more
about them will likely increase.

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)