For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 4, 2003
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend in Iraq, 750 Iraqi citizens completed their military training and became the first battalion of the new Iraqi army. For decades, Iraq's army served the interests of a dictator. Today a new army is serving the Iraqi people. And less than a year from now, Iraq will have a 40,000-member military force, trained and dedicated to protecting their fellow citizens.
Our coalition is helping to train and equip Iraq's new army, so that Iraqis can take over border protection and other security duties as soon as possible. Soldiers in the new battalion join more than 80,000 other Iraqis who are defending their country's security. Iraq now has a Civil Defense Corps of nearly 2,500, a border guard force of 4,700, and a facility protection service of over 12,000. And more than half of the Iraqis under arms are police officers, instructed by professionals like New York City's outstanding former police chief, Bernard Kerik. Iraq's neighbor, Jordan, has announced that it will help Iraq train additional police officers.
For three decades, the police in Iraq were the feared enforcers of a dictatorship. Now Iraq's new police are enforcing the just laws of an emerging democracy. Already the Iraqi police are assuming greater responsibility, and greater risks. This week, Iraqi officers aided a series of joint raids by American troops, leading to the arrest of more than 50 suspected criminals and terrorists. We're on the offensive against the desperate holdouts and Saddam loyalists who oppose progress in Iraq. The free nation we are helping to build will be free of them.
The United States is standing with the Iraqi people as they move toward self-government. My wartime funding request to Congress includes more than $5 billion to help the people of Iraq take responsibility for their own security. These funds will be used to prepare the Iraqi army, to train public safety and emergency personnel, and to establish a fair and effective judicial system.
Greater security is essential to Iraq's future. A secure Iraq will protect the nation's schools, and the hospitals that are opening, and the roads that are being built, and the water and power facilities we are repairing. Across Iraq, our coalition is turning over responsibility to the future leaders of that country. Those leaders include women. Just this weekend, a conference is being held at the University of Babylon to affirm the vital role of women in the Iraqi society.
The transition to self-government is a complicated process, because it takes time to build trust and hope after decades of oppression and fear. Yet we are making steady progress, and we will keep our promise to fully return Iraq's government to Iraq's people as soon as possible.
The men and women of our coalition have shown bravery and skill and compassion in Iraq. And they know their mission. They know that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities. Our forces know that a secure and sovereign Iraq will be a setback for terrorists, and an inspiration to all who dream of freedom in the Middle East. And the world can be certain, this essential mission in the war on terror will be completed.
Thank you for listening.