Iraqi, Coalition Officials Put Election Plan in Place
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq, Dec. 14, 2005 Iraqi and coalition officials are implementing the plan to ensure safety for Iraqi voters in the country's historic Dec. 15 election, in which Iraqis will elect their first permanent democratic government.
Army Col. Joseph P. DiSalvo (gesturing) speaks via an interpreter to Iraqi police manning a checkpoint in East Baghdad. The colonel's 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers are helping with security for the national elections. Photo by Jim Garamone
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Iraqi security forces clearly have taken the lead in this election. They have developed the plan and are doing their part to implement it.
Army Col. Joseph P. Di Salvo, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team here, said the Iraqi forces in his sector have the election process well under control. The area, with 4.6 million people, contains a mix of religions and ethnic backgrounds. But the center of mass and the largest concentration is the Shiia stronghold of Sadr City. The Iraqi army unit works with Iraqi public order battalions and the Iraqi police, both of which come under Iraq's Interior Ministry.
DiSalvo said the Iraqi army's 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, has planned and executed 37 independent operations in the last month. The brigade has developed intelligence, planned the raids and executed them well. "I'm very fortunate to have this brigade here," he said.
The colonel visited the Iraqi brigade's commander to iron out any last-minute difficulties with the election.
Coalition forces are supporting the Iraqi effort, but will not - and have not - provided protection at polling sites. Coalition forces have delivered Jersey barriers, concertina wire, flashlights, searching wands and quick-reaction forces. The Iraqis are delivering voting materials to the polling stations today, and have police at the polling stations, an outer cordon of police and soldiers and forces in reserve.
Coalition officials say the most likely threats are car bombs, female suicide bombers and mortar and rocket attacks on forward operating bases and the embassy compound. Military officials said the coalition forces are patrolling and will counter the moves of any who wish to disrupt the election.