- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) — The United States is urging Iraqi-Americans to join its military offensive to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn, Mich., Monday to join the Free Iraqi Force, which he said was raised with the help of groups opposed to Hussein to train Iraqis to support military operations inside their country. Dearborn has the largest concentration of Iraqis in the United States.

Some 1,500 U.S personnel are training 3,000 Iraqis at the Taszar Air Base, about 120 miles southwest of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. U.S. Central Command says several hundred U.S.-based Iraqis — mainly anti-Saddam Shiites — have already joined the camp. The recruits wear U.S.-issue camouflage uniforms with the insignia "Free Iraqi Forces."

Wolfowitz, who is considered one of the key architects of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, said Iraqi-Americans could also join the U.S. military as part of the Individual Ready Reserve. He said their professional skills and their understanding of Iraqi languages and culture would help in rebuilding the nation after Saddam.

"After the conflict, the skills and local knowledge of these forces will help to rebuild Iraq," he said.

Beginning his presentation in Arabic and peppering his remarks with references to the Koran, Wolfowitz outlined five principles he said the United States would use to undertake military action against Iraq.

"The United States seeks to liberate Iraq, not to occupy Iraq," he said.

Next, Iraq must be "disarmed of all weapons of mass terror, weapons-production capabilities and the means to deliver such weapons." Third, he said, "We must eliminate Iraq's terrorist infrastructure."

Next, Iraq must be preserved "as a unified state with its territorial integrity intact." And finally, with U.S. coalition partners, "we must help the Iraqi people begin the process of economic and political reconstruction."

President Bush, he said, was in the final stages of determining whether the situation could be resolved peacefully, but plans were being floated to study how to rebuild the nation after Saddam has gone.

"It is not too early for the rest of us to be thinking about how to build a just and peaceful and democracy Iraq after Saddam Hussein is gone," Wolfowitz said. "In fact, we in the administration have already begun doing so."

He told his audience that should military action be taken against Iraq, "the United States and its coalition partners will make every effort to avoid hurting non-combatants and to spare infrastructure that free Iraqis will need to rebuild their nation."


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