General Abizaid’s admission was in sharp contrast to claims made by the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier, insisting the growing number of attacks in Iraq on US troops did neither signify a guerrilla war, nor organized resistance.
“I think describing it as guerrilla tactics being employed against us is, you know, a proper thing to describe in strictly military terms,” Abizaid said during a Pentagon briefing.
Abizaid said US forces were fighting remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Ba'ath Party throughout Iraq and claimed that mid-level officials of the ousted Iraqi president have organized at the regional level in cellular structure.
“They are conducting what I would describe as a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us. Its low-intensity conflict in our doctrinal terms, but its war however you describe it,” the top US general said.
His admission came as his troops continued to suffer casualties in Iraq amid rising concerns back home in the United States.
“The level of resistance, I am not so sure I would characterize it as escalating in terms of number of incidents. But its getting more organized and it is learning. It is adapting…it is adapting our tactics, techniques and procedures. And we have go to adapt to their tactics, techniques and procedures,” Abizaid said.
Speaking on a day when some disillusioned US solders vented despair over the continuing operation in Iraq on television, Abizaid said the decision to keep troops in Iraq was tactical and was not being forced on the military.
“Once we started to understand that environment, we knew that we were going to have to extend people longer than we hoped,” he said.
“War is a struggle of wills,” he said. “They are not driving us out of anywhere,” Abizaid said.