Iraqi Forces More Capable in Counterinsurgency Fight
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAHGDAD, Iraq, May. 4, 2006 Iraqi army forces are becoming much more capable and are increasingly taking the lead in counterinsurgency operations, coalition officials said here today at a news conference.
About 253,000 members of the Iraqi security forces are trained and equipped, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, deputy chief of staff for strategic effects for Multinational force Iraq, said. Two divisions, 16 brigades and 58 battalions make up the Iraqi army.
Iraqi officials yesterday inaugurated a new system that will allow commanders to exercise operational control of these forces nationwide. Lynch said the million-dollar Joint Operations Center that Iraqi Ground Forces Command uses at Camp Victory gives Iraqi commanders situational awareness. Up to now, Iraqi commanders had administrative control of the forces. This new capability will allow the Iraqis to assess threats, direct troops and assess intelligence.
Lynch said that Iraqi forces or Iraqi forces in conjunction with coalition troops conduct almost 70 percent of all operations in Iraq. "Only 30 percent of operations are coalition-force independent operations," he said.
He cited Iraqi operations in the northern city of Mosul as an example of the increasing Iraqi effort. About 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and police are in Mosul to stabilize the area and provide security for residents. The only coalition-force involvement is to provide an outer perimeter. An interesting point in the operation is that Ninewah province police allowed local media to accompany troops, observe them and report on the operation.
Lynch said that by the end of the year, the Iraqi security forces will be at full strength.