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Coalition Provides Update on Iraqi Security Forces Training

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2005 – Pointing out that Iraqi security forces are developing at the same time that the Iraqi people are building democracy and self-government for the first time in their history, and doing so in the midst of an insurgency, a coalition official updated reporters on the progress of that training July 28 in Baghdad.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said the Iraqi army now has eight ground divisions, 29 brigade headquarters with 101 battalions, plus a mechanized division with one brigade headquarters and two battalions. Three battalions are undergoing training now, he said.

The Iraqi army is attracting 1,000 to 1,400 recruits per month, and training courses are now in place for noncommissioned officers and officers alike, the general said.

Nearly 94,000 Ministry of Interior forces have been trained and equipped, including more than 63,000 Iraqi police of a planned force of 135,000, Alston told reporters. About 1,500 police officers graduate from training every eight weeks in Jordan, and another 1,000 from a 10-week class in Baghdad, he added.

Since January, Alston said, the rolls have grown by nearly 16,000 police officers, 1,300 special police, 1,800 border police, 600 highway patrol, 2,400 members of the public order battalions, and 4,000 members of the Facility Protection Service.

"The training is high-quality, involving international trainers both in Jordan and Iraq, and Iraqi instructors are playing an increasingly larger role," the general noted.

"As these forces are trained," he explained, "they return to duty across Iraq, "which tremendously aids coalition efforts to bring security and stability to Iraq, and it allows the people of Iraq to see their forces in action."

The increased numbers and growing capability of Iraq's security forces "allow us to continue to put constant pressure on the insurgency with our operations," Alston said, citing various examples of operations that resulted in killing or capturing terrorists, discovering weapons and roadside bombs before they could be used.

"The roll-up of a few of our operations this past week illustrates the success we have as a result of the constant pressure we, the coalition, and Iraqi forces put on the insurgency every day," Alston said.

Turning to reconstruction, Alston cited the city of Fallujah as "an excellent example of the progress being made."

Fallujah was the site of Operation Al-Fajr in November, when coalition forces routed terrorists from the city they had used as a base of operations. "Elevated water tanks have been repaired, and projects are under way to increase the fresh water capacity by 3 million gallons per day," the general said. "Electricity is about 80 percent of the pre-Al-Fajr levels and should be back to 100 percent by December."

Updates to Fallujah's existing electrical system will give every home and business in the city safe and modern electrical connections by spring, Alston said. A modern sewage system is 80 percent complete, and construction of a new sewage treatment facility will start in two months, he added.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will finish construction of a health clinic, four schools and four 250-person police stations in the coming months, the general told reporters. Since February, more than $20 million has been dedicated to reconstruction efforts in Fallujah, he added, and an estimated $80 million of work is planned for the future.

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