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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Peter Rodman
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
June 14, 2006

Peter Rodman
Good Afternoon. My name is Peter Rodman. I am the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. I am one of the senior advisors to the Secretary of Defense for formulating international security and political-military policy relating to Africa, Asia-Pacific, Near East and South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. I also provide policy oversight for security assistance and prisoner of war (POW)/missing in action (MIA) issues, and participate in interagency deliberations on policy issues within the National Security Council System.

David, from Niagara Falls, New York writes:
The status of the armed forces of the battalions in Iraq seem to be up and running successfully Is the next step to have the individual police forces of each city trained to maintain law and order at that level?

Peter Rodman
Coalition forces are training Iraqi security forces (army and police) so they can gradually assume responsibility for the security of their neighborhoods, cities, and provinces. The goal is to have the police forces take over local security so the Iraqi army can revert to a more traditional military role, as the insurgency is defeated.

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
I listened to the President's press conference today. I agree that we should not pull out until the job is done. We did that in Korea and Vietnam. I appreciate the President taking a risk and going there himself to meet with their leaders.

Peter Rodman
The President reassured Iraqi leaders that he is determined to finish the job—helping democratic Iraq get on its feet and defeat the insurgency.

Karen, from Vermont writes:
I find trying to figure out what's happening in Iraq very confusing so I appreciate your time. I hope you can help me with a few questions.Do you think killing Zarqawi will lessen the violence in Iraq? Are American troops just trying to stop foreign insurgents or are they also trying to stop sectarian violence? Is there a way to stop car bombing?

Peter Rodman
The death of this mass murderer is a victory in the war on terror and is an opportunity for the Iraqi government to increase security in conflicted areas. In the short term, however, Zarqawi’s followers may increase their attacks to show they are still a force to be reckoned with. Also, there’s a lot of violence in Iraq that is not connected to Zarqawi. Coalition forces, including Iraqi security forces, are both fighting the insurgency and working to reduce sectarian conflict. Our experience is that the great majority of Iraqis want to work together for the good of their country.

We are always trying to improve our defensive measures when dealing with car bombings and other explosive devices used against Coalition forces and the Iraqi people. Forty-Five to fifty percent of Improvised Explosive Devices are discovered and rendered safe before detonation.

Vivianne, from Northwest U.S.A writes:
In your opinion, what are some possible projections for completely withdrawing troops and U.S. political influence in the Middle East? Can you draw some positive and negative projections?Thank you, Vivianne

Peter Rodman
Thanks, Vivianne. As the President says, as the Iraqis stand up we will be able to stand down. I expect it will be a gradual transition. But the pace will be based on conditions in Iraq, not on arbitrary deadlines. The consolidation of the new Iraqi government and our continued success in training and equipping the Iraqi Army and police will be important factors.

Rob, from Nashville writes:
Do we plan on having a permanent military presence in Iraq?

Peter Rodman
No. Coalition forces are in Iraq at the request of the sovereign democratically-elected Iraqi government, and the future security relationship is something that will be decided by the two countries at an appropriate time.

Christopher, from Kansas City writes:
Are children in Iraqi going to school most days? Has the coalition built or re-built many school facilities in the last several years?

Peter Rodman
They certainly are. Children have been going to school in Iraq since shortly after the liberation and we have rebuilt thousands of schools in Iraq. For example, of the 317 school projects funded by the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund in the northern region of Iraq, 315 are complete and two are in progress.

Joanna, from Chicago, IL writes:
Hello, Will the present constitution of Iraq stay forever or is it just a interim solution? Thanks

Peter Rodman
The new Iraqi Constitution, ratified by popular referendum last October, is a permanent constitution. As with the U.S. Constitution, if the Iraqis decide to change or amend it, there is a process they can follow.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Secretary Rodman: How do you think the Presidents recent trip to Iraq will be viewed by the Iraq people and the Iraq police and military forces? Thank You

Peter Rodman
Our hope is that the Iraqi people will view the President's visit as yet another example of the commitment of the President and the American people to support them in their quest for peace, freedom, and prosperity.

Peter Rodman
I thank you for all your questions and I hope that I have been able to answer them to your satisfaction. I am sorry if I wasn’t able to get to your particular question – the volume of questions was amazing.

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