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Iraq: The New 'Homeland Security'

Iraq: The New 'Homeland Security'As the American public grows weary of an open-ended occupation, the U.S. must define a timeline for Iraq to take responsibility for its own security, says a Tufts expert. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.06.03] On Thursday, President Bush signed the $87.5 billion spending package to fund U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - a bill which includes $18 billion for Iraqi reconstruction efforts. But as the post-war occupation in Iraq stretches on, polls indicate that the American public is growing increasingly skeptical of the costs of an indefinite occupation. According to a Tufts expert, Washington must provide plans for Iraq to take over its own security - or risk losing critical popular support.

"It is imperative that we turn over security, as much and as quickly as possible, to the Iraqis," Tufts' Robert Pfaltzgraff told the Christian Science Monitor.

Pfaltzgraff - the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at the Fletcher School - says that putting more Iraqi policemen on the streets will give the reconstruction effort more momentum, and give - at minimum - the appearance that security is improving in the nation.

"As long as they have a play in place that shows light at the end of the tunnel, the support will be there to stay on the course," Pfaltzgraff told the Monitor.

Recent deadly attacks on American soldiers stationed in Iraq provide yet another reason why the American public wants U.S. troops out and local police in. But there are many hurdles to overcome before the U.S. can transfer security to Iraqi personnel.

Allies have been reluctant to provide troops in Iraq, increasing the burden on the American military. Iraqis have also rejected the introduction of Turkish soldiers, which could have lessened the load on the U.S.

While some point to the Iraqi military - which was disbanded during the war - as a possible source for police, Washington officials are reluctant to use this as an immediate solution, citing the need to retrain men and weed out Hussein supporters.

According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, there are currently 100,000 Iraqi police and other internal troops providing security for the country - a number that the Bush administration hopes to double by next year.

But regardless of how many more Iraqis are policing the streets, Pfaltzgraff says there will still be some military tasks - such as defending the nation's borders - that will need to remain under U.S. control for the time being.

"We need to make sure that the influx of material and other things is coming in - people as well as weapons - are minimized," Pfaltzgraff told the Monitor. "That's a major issue for the U.S."

(Photo courtesy AP and U.S. Air Force. Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins.)

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