Sanchez Urges Saddam Loyalists to Lay Down Arms
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2004 Anti-coalition forces and former regime elements should "lay down their arms and embrace the future," the commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq said in a briefing from Baghdad today.
"The former regime is never going to come back," said Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7. "We're going to be relentless in the pursuit of these targets. We're going to capture or kill them, as is our mission. Those that remain at large, and given the pace that we're moving toward sovereignty, it's time for them to lay down their arms and become part of the solution."
The general said "great progress" continues to be made across the country and in partnership with the Iraqi people.
Offensive operations, he added, continue to bring about a safe and secure environment. Civil-military operations, Sanchez said, continue to provide Iraqi citizens with the infrastructure they need for a healthy, self-sustaining economy.
This week, said the general, coalition forces conducted more than 150 offensive operations, 12,000 patrols and captured 360 anti-coalition personnel.
Sanchez said the impending arrival of about 1,000 members of Japan's Ground Defense Force is "a welcome addition" to the coalition. This is the first time Japanese forces will be part of a coalition not sponsored by the United Nations. The troops will work with Dutch soldiers in the southern part of the country, and will help to rebuild Iraq.
"We look forward to getting them integrated into country and maximizing their contributions so they can contribute to the progress of this great country," Sanchez added.
He also addressed the Army's announcement Jan. 15 that the Defense Department had approved the extension of selected Army units past their 12-month "boots on the ground" time in the U. S. Central Command area of responsibility.
"We're committed to the '365 boots on the ground' (policy)," he said. "We just couldn't bridge the gap (with some units), and therefore they've been told they'll have to stay a little longer.
"We're managing every unit, every detachment very, very carefully so that we can get those great young Americans home as we've promised them," Sanchez continued. "We've told them that it's 365 days with a window for transportation, and we're working very hard (to meet that)."
In the past 24 hours, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse conducted 155 patrols and five raids that resulted in the capture of 40 suspects, a CJTF 7 news release stated. Ten patrols were joint operations with the Iraqi police, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Border Guard.
The raids and patrols netted 20 AK-47 assault rifles, three machine guns, one rifle, one shotgun, one pistol, six rocket-propelled grenade launchers, one RPG, four grenades, one mortar round, two artillery rounds, 15 pounds of PE-4 plastic explosives, one 60 mm rocket, 770 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition and eight improvised explosive devices.
In other CENTCOM news, a 4th Infantry Division soldier is in stable condition after being wounded by gunfire from attackers in the village of Abu Kharma on Jan. 14, CJTF 7 reported. The Task Force Ironhorse soldier was saved from more serious injury by his protective body armor and ceramic insert plate, noted the release. Four attackers were killed and one was wounded.
Four Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers and three others were injured Jan. 14 when two attackers threw hand grenades at a Hawija government building during a city council meeting, according to CJTF 7 release. The grenades landed near a Task Force Ironhorse Bradley fighting vehicle. The gunner wounded one attacker, who still was able to escape. The injured Iraqis were taken to the local hospital and were in stable condition.
About 1,000 people marched in downtown Ramadi Jan. 15 to show support for their Iraqi civic leaders in a pro-coalition demonstration, a CJTF 7 news release reported. The group stopped at the government center, and organizers took pictures with the mayor and chief of police.
Task Force All American civil affairs personnel with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team delivered two new police vehicles to the Eskan police department. These vehicles are the first in a Coalition Provisional Authority-funded project to provide police vehicles to the Iskandariyah area. Six pickup trucks and six motorcycles also will be delivered.
In other CJTF 7 news, civil affairs troops with 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, attended the re-opening of the Al Farsan Primary School for Boys. They delivered school supplies and soccer balls.
In another news release today, CJTF 7 officials announced that an investigation has begun into reports of detainee abuse at a coalition detention facility. The release of more specific information could hinder the investigation, the release stated.
The release also said the coalition is committed to treating all persons under its control with dignity, respect and humanity, and that Sanchez has reiterated this requirement to all members of the task force.