Iraqi Peace Plan Gives Citizens Responsibility, General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2006 The reconciliation plan announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Oct. 2 enables Iraqi citizens from all political groups to hold their security forces responsible and to take responsibility for creating peace and tolerance within their own neighborhoods, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said today.
The plan, which calls for the creation of joint committees throughout Baghdad made up of clerics, tribal sheiks, representatives from all political blocs, and the armed forces, is aimed at ending internal battles that were preventing the unity Iraq so desperately needs, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said in a news conference.
“The frank dialogue that went into the development of this plan shows a concerted effort by all sects to reduce the sectarian violence,” Caldwell said. “Reconciliation among Iraqis is ultimately what will quell this needless bloodshed.”
On the local and national levels, Iraqi leaders are learning what self-governance means and are improving their capabilities to serve the needs of the citizens, Caldwell said. Provincial reconstruction teams made up of coalition forces are assisting local governments and teaching them how to develop governance capacity, promote increased security and rule of law, achieve political and economic development, and meet the basic needs of their populations.
“Since the fall of Saddam (Hussein), local governance has taken on a whole new meaning here in Iraq,” he said. “Iraqis are clearly focused on improving their quality of life and working towards a brighter future.”
As local governance improves, the Iraqi security forces continue to improve, Caldwell said. This week, one brigade and three battalions of the Iraqi army assumed the lead in their areas of operation, bringing the total of Iraqi units in the lead to six Iraqi army division headquarters, 30 brigades, and 89 battalions, he said. Of the 110 bases that coalition forces have occupied since 2003, 52 have been turned over to Iraqi control, he added.
In September, Iraqi and coalition forces killed more than 110 terrorists and detained more than 520 suspected terrorists in 164 operations, Caldwell said. Based on information from a recently detained al Qaeda member, coalition forces on Sept. 28 detained a former driver and personal assistant of Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, the purported leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, along with 31 others during a series of raids in the Baghdad area, he said. Intelligence indicates the individual detained participated in the 2005 bombing of two hotels in Baghdad that killed a total of 16 people and injured 65 others, he said.
The Iraqi police are also continuing to improve, Caldwell said. Earlier this summer, Multinational Force Iraq began phase one of a national police assessment program termed “Quick Look,” which was designed to assess each battalion’s capability and readiness with regards to equipment status, personnel and weapons accountability, battalion facilities, overall unit discipline, and current combat capabilities. Phase one has ended, Caldwell said, and the coalition has initiated phase two, which focuses on leader and police transformational training.
Transformational training is a three-week training program focused on leader training, civil policing skills, and training on key collective tasks required at the small-unit level, Caldwell said. Key blocks of instructions include: rule of law, policing a democracy, police role in counterinsurgency operations, human rights, community policing, and a platoon-level police situational training exercise. By the summer of 2007, all Iraqi national police units should have completed this training, he said.
Quick Look has also brought to light some national police units that are not up to the government’s standards and that need retraining, Caldwell said. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced late last night that the 8th Brigade, 2nd National Police, is being recalled to go through intensive training in anti-militia and anti-sectarian violence operations, he said. “This brigade’s past performance has not demonstrated the level of professionalism sought by the Ministry of Interior,” he said.
Caldwell stressed that while some units within the police force clearly need retraining, others have proven to be very competent and professional units.
“The transition from tyranny to democracy is definitely long and very difficult,” he said. “Coalition forces continue to stand behind the government as it deals with tough decisions that lay ahead, and with the Iraqi security forces as they continue to grow in both quality and quantity.”