- The Washington Times - Friday, October 24, 2003

HILLA, Iraq — Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz accused the House of Representatives yesterday of damaging Iraqi security by cutting in half the Senate-approved $200 million allocation for building Iraqi and Afghan army units.

He also complained of a continuing bureaucratic “logjam” in both the House and the Senate, which he said was stopping any funding being funneled to the Department of Defense, unless it was specifically designated for the two countries’ regular armies.

Anything other than supporting or training a regular army was being interpreted as a foreign-affairs function, which he described as “a lot of doctrine.”

He said that funding through the State Department led to “slow but methodical” activity — inappropriate, he asserted, in a time of war.

“What we’d like is the full $200 million and full authority for [use in training and equipping] any security forces at all,” Mr. Wolfowitz told a small group of reporters before taking a helicopter flight from this Shi’ite city to the Sunni-dominated former Saddam Hussein stronghold of Tikrit.

He said that, in his talks in Iraq so far, there had been a strong emphasis on creating the non-regular security units, and they needed proper funding.

Both the Civil Defense Corps and the new police, he said, in recent days had distinguished themselves by making arrests and breaking up potential clashes. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps cleaned out a mosque where hard-liners were holed up.

He also praised the Iraqi police for getting to a gang shootout before coalition troops could show up.

“They are fighting effectively for their country, and we are interested in expanding that capacity as fast as possible,” he said. “The sooner it happens, the better.”

Mr. Wolfowitz also signaled a change of emphasis in the recruitment of former Iraqi army officers to the new Iraqi defense force and two new security agencies.

One of the first decrees of L. Paul Bremer, Iraq’s top U.S. civilian administrator, was to disband the entire Iraqi army, which led to a riot and two deaths of disgruntled army personnel demanding reinstatement and salaries. A later reversal saw agreement to pay the salaries as pensions, but the new army recruitment has left the majority of previous soldiers jobless.

“We have [already] been rehiring previous army officers. There is certainly no prejudice against previous officers — no desire to keep them out, if they have a clean record, and the great majority of them have, certainly if they were in the regular army,” Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Meanwhile, a mortar attack killed two American soldiers and wounded four others yesterday at an outpost north of Baghdad, and a third American died in a gunbattle in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. military said.

The mortar attack occurred about noon at a 4th Infantry Division forward operating base near Samara, 70 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command said.

It was the second mortar attack against a 4th Infantry Division position in as many days. Late Thursday, 13 soldiers from the division were wounded when a mortar struck a hangar at Camp War Horse near Baqouba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

The 4th Infantry is responsible for security in a large swath of territory in northern Iraq and has suffered more attacks than any other U.S. command in Iraq, according to American officials in Baghdad.

In Mosul, a soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed during a gunbattle before dawn yesterday with armed men who attacked a grain-storage facility, the military said.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, 108 U.S. soldiers have been killed by hostile fire.

Lt. Col. George Krivo, the U.S. command spokesman, said attacks on coalition forces have averaged about 26 a day over the past two weeks. About three-quarters of the attacks have occurred in an arc stretching from the west through Baghdad to the region north of the capital.

Meanwhile, police said two children — ages 3 and 8 — were killed and three adults wounded in a grenade attack on a police station in Mosul, a city that had been relatively quiet for weeks.

In Fallujah, a center of Sunni Muslim resistance 40 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses reported that a roadside bomb wounded several U.S. soldiers yesterday. It was the sixth attack by insurgents in Fallujah in as many days.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld told The Washington Times on Thursday that Syria and Iran are complicating efforts to stabilize Iraq because terrorists are crossing those nations’ borders to attack U.S. and allied forces.

“It sure would be a lot easier if they were helpful, instead of harmful,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

“I think that we’ll end up succeeding in Iraq, and it’s just going to be harder, a little more difficult” because of the influx of foreign fighters, he said. “On the other hand, [the influx of terrorists] gives the [Central Command] folks a chance to kill or capture terrorists.”

The United States will be finished in Iraq when sovereignty is returned to the new Baghdad government and the nation’s economy is “jump-started,” he said.

Since June, some 85,000 Iraqi security personnel have been trained for police, border patrol, military and site-protection duties.

Mr. Rumsfeld also suggested creation of a new agency to help the United States better communicate its messages in the international “war of ideas” as well as in the war on terror.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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