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U.S. Army Gen. George Casey, commander of multinational force in Iraq, answers questions during a Pentagon press conference, June 22, 2006.
The rising death toll and number of insurgent attacks in Iraq has forced the U.S. to add troops in Baghdad to try and reverse the trend in the country's capital. The U.S. plans to eventually turn over security responsibility to Iraqis.
Steve Inskeep speaks to Gen. George Casey, the commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq.
Casey says that Baghdad has become safer since the U.S. deployed additional forces to the capital earlier this summer.
"But we have a long way to go…. We actually have seen a positive trend over the last five weeks here. [It's] too early to say that this is going to last, but the operations that we have been doing have had a positive impact.
Those operations have included U.S. and Iraqi troops and police working jointly. Iraqi forces are not "quite ready yet" to work alone, Casey says. "We've been on a program… to transition security to the Iraqis. We're a little over halfway through that process."
"We have a very deliberate process where we prepare the Iraqi forces and hand it over to them," Casey says. "First, we build the organizations, train them and equip them. Then we put them in the lead, and that's what you're seeing now. They're in the lead with our support.
"The whole notion is they will get better faster doing it themselves with us helping them than they would watching us do it. The next step is to continue to work with them until they can do it independently. And that's what's going to take a little longer."