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General Abizaid on Central Command’s Force Posture

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Central Command is in charge of Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, and its commander, General John Abizaid, testified to Congress this week and the force posture of Central Command. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

Key graph:

Our training of Iraqi security forces over the past year produced significant, tangible results. Many Iraqi Army units are now in the lead in the counterinsurgency fight in key areas of the country. While large numbers of units are being equipped and trained, institutional building of military academies and training centers moves forward as well. Small teams of U.S. and Coalition soldiers serve with the Iraqi military and many Iraqi police units, providing Iraqi forces with access to U.S. and Coalition combat support and logistics enablers. A similar model exists with Afghan National Army units.

Crucial section on the nature of the enemy:

These extremists defame the religion of Islam by glorifying suicide bombing, by taking and beheading hostages, and by the wanton use of explosive devices that kill innocent people by the score. Their false jihad kills indiscriminately and runs contrary to any standard of moral conduct and behavior. The enemy’s vision of the future would create a region-wide zone that would look like Afghanistan under the Taliban. Music would be banned, women ostracized, basic liberties banished, and soccer stadiums used for public executions. The people of the region do not want the future these extremists desire. The more we talk about this enemy, the more its bankrupt ideology will become known. But more important, the more that regional leaders talk about and act against this enemy, the less attractive it will be. Osama bin Laden and Musab al Zarqawi cannot represent the future of Islam.

Al Qaida and their allies are ruthless, giving them power beyond their relatively small numbers. They are masters of intimidation. Their depraved attacks menace entire communities and can influence the policies of national governments. They embrace asymmetric warfare, focusing their means on the innocent and defenseless. In Jordan, they target wedding parties. In Iraq, they murder children playing in the streets, doctors working in hospitals, and UN employees supporting Iraqi efforts to build their country. They respect no neutral ground.

This enemy is linked by modern communications, expertly using the virtual world for recruiting, fundraising, planning, training, indoctrination, and proselytizing. The internet empowers these extremists in a way that would have been impossible a decade ago. It enables them to have global reach and to plan and coordinate terrorist operations throughout the world.

Finally, and most important, this enemy seeks to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction. If they could develop or acquire a chemical, biological, or nuclear device, they would use it. This is not a guess. This is what they say. Their willingness to use suicide means to deliver such a weapon heightens this threat. There should be no mistake about the stakes in this broader war against al Qaida. The enemy must be deprived of time, safe haven and resources to prevent development and use of mass-casualty producing devices.


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