Gen. Webster on Insurgency

Webster speaks via satellite.
Webster speaks via satellite.

It's been another violent day in Iraq, and insurgents have been targeting more than just people. Gunmen blew up an oil pipeline this morning. Fireballs could be seen shooting from the pipeline for miles. US and Iraqi troops are at the scene investigating.

They're also looking into the latest car bombing, which took place at a gas station north of Baghdad. The bomb went off near cars that were waiting for fuel. Two people were killed.

These attacks come as no surprise to one of the US commanders in Iraq, but Maj. Gen. William Webster of the Third Infantry says the people of Iraq want the new government and want the insurgent attacks to stop.

We talked with Gen. Webster by satellite today about everything from the training of the Iraqi army and police to involuntary car bomb drivers.

From the other side of the world, he said he believes things are getting better in Iraq slowly but surely, thanks in part to the Third Infantry. Marne soldiers are helping train Iraqis to defend their own democracy.

"Each of our brigades has the equivalent of a battalion designated to train Iraqi forces, probably along the lines of 500 US men and women," he said.

He says Task Force Baghdad has braced for the security requirements of Saddam Hussein's trial this summer and a constitutional election this fall.

Just like people in the Coastal Empire have Silent Witness to report crime, people in Baghdad now have a phone number they can call to report insurgents.

Gen. Webster says more and more of them are using it every day. That makes the insurgents more desperate. He says the terrorists are now forcing drivers behind the wheel of car bombs.

"That's where they need foreign fighters, because the average Iraqi is not willing to commit suicide to get us out of the country," he said.

As he closed the hour-long discussion, Webster thanked the Third Infantry families who've lost their soldiers so far and promised they had not died in vain.

He says their most recent focus--Operation Squeeze Play--has targeted improvised explosive devices and finding them before they get to the streets and roadways.

While we're still seeing the explosions every day, they're preventing more and more of them. Unfortunately, he predicts the enemy will find a new tactic and they must be ready.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,