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Iraqi Instructors to Conduct Most Military Training

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2004 – From now on Iraqis will be conducting most of the training for Iraq's new armed forces, a senior U.S. military officer said today.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for Multinational Force Iraq, told reporters at a Baghdad news briefing that 843 Iraqi army officers, including 11 women officers, graduated this week from a military course conducted in Jordan.

That course is the second and final of its kind, Kimmitt explained, and is part of the U.S.-coalition program to train and equip the new Iraqi armed forces.

The newly graduated class of Iraqi officers, the general said, "completes officer training for the Iraqi army's three programmed divisions."

Future Iraqi officer and initial enlisted entry training, Kimmitt noted, "will now almost entirely be conducted by Iraqi army trainers."

In other news, Kimmitt confirmed that four U.S. service members had died today in combat action near the Iraqi city of Ramadi. A photograph on the Internet depicts them sprawled in the street. News reports indicated they were Marines.

Details of what had happened to them, Kimmitt noted, would likely become available "after we've notified the families."

Dan Senor, chief Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman, also said sensitivity concerns produced scant information about the status of South Korean civilian Kim Sun-il, who was taken hostage June 20 by Iraqi insurgents. In a hostage situation the dissemination of information, Senor explained to reporters, often is "not in the interest of those whose safe release we are trying to secure."

The insurgents have threatened to kill Kim if South Korea doesn't meet a 24- hour ultimatum to agree to pull its 600 troops out of Iraq. The South Korean government said June 18 that it would deploy another 3,000 troops to Iraq.

Senor pledged all resources would be employed to secure "the safe rescue of any hostage, including this gentleman from Korea."

In the past 24 hours, Kimmitt said, coalition forces in Iraq conducted 1,782 patrols and 12 offensive operations, detained 47 anti-coalition suspects, and released 19 detainees. The next detainee release at Abu Ghraib prison is slated for June 22 and 23, he noted, when 157 are scheduled for release.

Kimmitt said he doesn't see much of a change to the U.S.-coalition military mission in Iraq after sovereignty turns over June 30. "We will continue to operate to establish and maintain a safe and secure environment here in Iraq," the general explained, adding he knows of no plans for permanent U.S. military basing in Iraq.

The coalition's military goal in Iraq, Kimmitt said, is to depart the country leaving "fully capable Iraqi security forces responsible for internal and external security of their nation without the need for a multinational force."

"That," Kimmitt pointed out, "doesn't happen on the 1st of July."

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