Iraqi Counterinsurgency Troops to Target Urban Terrorists
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 18, 2004 Specially trained Iraqi troops will soon deploy into Baghdad to go after city-dwelling terrorists, a senior U.S. military officer told a House panel June 17.
An element of the Iraqi Army, the Iraq National Task Force, is "trained and equipped for urban counterinsurgency operations," Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, chief of the Office of Security Transition in Iraq, noted in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
The task force, Petraeus explained from Baghdad via video teleconference, has been in training for months.
The first task force battalion, the general noted, will be available by the end of June upon completion of its training and will then be deployed into Baghdad.
More INTF elements, he added, will finish their training by the end of July.
U.S. and coalition advisers "will do all we can," Petraeus vowed, to prepare INTF troops for success by providing training, preparation and equipment.
The task force's vehicles are receiving supplemental armor, "just as we harden coalition vehicles," Petraeus pointed out, as well as special mountings for machine guns.
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan, Petraeus noted, directed that the first-available INTF unit be deployed into southeast Baghdad at the end of this month.
However, the general said, the new Iraqi counterinsurgency troops will get some coaching when they first take up their duties in Baghdad.
"We will, in fact, do a crawl-walk-run approach with them when they enter their area of responsibility," Petraeus noted.