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Iraq report to note progress, problems

Pentagon sending data to Congress

WASHINGTON -- There has been encouraging progress toward stabilizing Iraq, even while insurgents and foreign fighters ''remain effective, adaptable, and intent on carrying out attacks," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.

Rumsfeld previewed a comprehensive Iraq report to Congress that was due July 11, the first in a series of required periodic assessments. Lawmakers have been pressing the Pentagon to provide more specific data to measure progress.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, accused the Pentagon last week of delaying the report.

''It is unconscionable that the administration has failed to give the American people a straight answer about how many Iraqi security forces are adequately trained and equipped and able to defend Iraq's security on their own," he said.

Rumsfeld said information about the readiness and performance of US-trained Iraqi security forces -- one of the most telling measures of progress -- would be included in a classified annex to the report but not made public.

Speaking at the same news conference, General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon's unwillingness to publicly release that information does not mean Congress is kept in the dark.

''We do tell the Congress privately, classified, exactly what these facts are. So there is a dialogue, just not one in the public," Pace said.

In a report today, The New York Times cited a newly declassified Pentagon assessment as saying that only ''a small number" of Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting the insurgency without American assistance, while about one-third of the army is capable of ''planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations" with allied support.

Rumsfeld indicated Tuesday that the report, which he said would be provided to Congress today or tomorrow, would not include an estimate of how many US troops are likely to be required in Iraq next year. That is among the things Congress had specifically requested be included in the unclassified report.

Rumsfeld said it is not possible to know how many US troops will be needed because the size of the force will be determined by conditions, including further progress in containing the insurgency and training the Iraqis.

There are about 138,000 US troops in Iraq, down from about 160,000 during the January elections, when extra units were required to handle a surge in violent attacks by the insurgents.

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