BAGHDAD – The U.S.-led coalition will speed up the training of Iraqi soldiers and police to cope with new security threats following the stepped up attacks by insurgents, the chief administrator said Saturday.
L. Paul Bremer told reporters that the coalition will double the size of the Iraqi Civil Defense Force (search) by March and accelerate the training of Iraqi soldiers and police.
Bremer said that by September of next year more than 200,000 Iraqis will be involved in the defense of the country.
"This is after all their country," Bremer said. "It is their future."
Bremer also said that capturing or killing Saddam Hussein (search) is a top priority of the U.S.-led coalition. But he said there was no evidence that the ousted Iraqi leader was organizing the increasingly fierce guerrilla war against U.S. occupation forces.
"We have no clear indication that Saddam himself is behind these attacks," he said. "There is some sign of control over these attacks at a regional level."
Citing unidentified senior officials, The New York Times reported Friday that Saddam himself might be playing a significant role in coordinating and directing attacks by his loyalists.
On Friday, troops cordoned off the village of Uja about five miles south of Tikrit (search) where Saddam was born, on suspicion the village is a secret base for financing and planning assaults against coalition forces.
Bremer said that, if the new funding sought by the Bush administration for Iraq was obtained, it would "allow us to train 27 battalions for the new Iraqi army in one year instead of two. That would be a 100 percent acceleration. Under the timeline we should have those battalions ready by roughly September next year."