Terrorists Can't Face Our Forces in Battle, So They Use IEDs, Bush Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2006  - Terrorists in Iraq resort to using improvised explosive devices because they lack the ability to engage in conventional military operations, President Bush said here today.

"After the terrorists were defeated in battles in Fallujah and Tal Afar, they saw they could not confront Iraqi or American forces in pitched battles and survive, and so they turned to IEDs, a weapon that allows them to attack from a safe distance without having to face our forces in battle," Bush said during a speech at George Washington University's Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

The president also made the point that the "principal victims" of these roadside bomb attacks are innocent Iraqis. "The terrorists and insurgents have used IEDs to kill Iraqi children playing in the streets, shoppers at Iraqi malls and Iraqis lining up at police and army recruiting stations," he said.

Bush said a Defense Department organization called the IED Joint Center of Excellence was established to deal specifically with the IED issue in a three-pronged approach.

"The first part of our plan is targeting and eliminating the terrorists and bomb makers," he said. "Across Iraq, we're on the hunt for the enemy, capturing and killing the terrorists before they strike, uncovering and disarming their weapons before they go off and rooting out and destroying bomb-making cells so they can't produce more weapons."

The second part of the plan involves specialized training so that U.S. troops can identify and clear IEDs before they explode. Nearly half of all IEDs found in Iraq are now disabled before they can be detonated, he said, and in the past 18 months, the casualty rate per IED attack has been reduced by 50 percent.

The third leg of the plan is to develop new technologies to defeat the IED threat.

The president called out Iran for supplying the components for some of the most powerful IEDs used in Iraq. Tehran, he said, has been responsible for at least some increasingly lethal anti-coalition attacks by providing terrorists with the capabilities to build improvised bombs.

"Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran," Bush said. "Such actions, along with Iran's support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran."

Bush also spoke about the importance of spreading democracy around the globe and he praised the Iraqi security forces for their improved performance.

Democracy replaces resentment with hope and its spread not only helps people in other countries, but also is also vital to U.S. national security, he said.

"On September the 11th, 2001, we saw that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country," he said. "We saw that dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and threaten the security of free nations."

The Iraqi security forces are stepping up in a big way to quell sectarian violence, especially following the bombing of the Shiite Golden Mosque in Samarra Feb. 22, he said.

"After the Samarra bombings, it was the Iraqi security forces, not coalition forces, that restored order," he said. "Having Iraqi forces in the lead has been critical to preventing violence from spinning out of control."

Bush said the Iraqi security forces play an essential role in ensuring a free and prosperous Iraq.

"From the outset, Iraqi forces understood that if they failed to stand for national unity, the country would slip into anarchy," he said. "And so they've stood their ground and defended their democracy and brought their nation through one of its most difficult moments since liberation."