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Commission says Iraq making slow progress

Sept. 6, 2007 at 4:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. commission of military experts said Iraqi security forces are making progress but aren't ready to assume responsibility for security in Iraq.

The report, presented Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said U.S. and coalition support will be required until independent operational capability to defend against external threats to Iraq is achieved.

The independent commission, established by Congress, looked at the readiness of the Iraqi security forces assume responsibility for maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq, their ability to deny international terrorists safe haven, their ability to bring greater security to Iraq's 18 provinces and their ability to bring an end to sectarian violence.

Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones said there could be a reduction of U.S. military forces in Iraq in the next 12 to 18 months as the Iraqi army and the police force continue to develop.

The report said improvement has been made in internal security missions, such as denying a safe haven to terrorists. The commission said it expects that the Iraqi security forces can bring greater security to the provinces in the next year, assuming a continuing rate of progress.

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