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Iraq Survey Group to Take Over Hunt for Iraqi Weapons

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2003 – A significant expansion of effort in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction will begin to take hold in Iraq in coming days, DoD officials said today.

That presence will come about with startup work by the Iraq Survey Group. Army Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, who will head the group, said the group will consolidate the efforts of the various collection operations in Iraq under one national-level headquarters. The transition is slated to begin no later than June 7, Dayton said.

The group will ultimately have between 1,300 and 1,400 people from the United States military, other U.S. government agencies, the United Kingdom and Australia. The main headquarters will be in Baghdad. The group's analytical center will be located with U.S. Central Command's forward headquarters in Qatar as will the Combined Media Processing Center.

The group will have a powerful intelligence analytical element in the region with connectivity to an interagency intelligence community fusion center based in Washington, Dayton said. The group's primary goal is to search for and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, he said. But experts with the group will also exploit documents and media related to terrorism, investigate war crimes, gather information on POW/MIA issues and other things related to the former Iraqi regime.

"The goal is to put all the pieces together in what is appearing to be a very complex jigsaw puzzle," Dayton said.

The group will maintain a potent "disablement and elimination capability" for weapons of mass destruction.

Dayton said his group's two-week transition with the 75th Exploitation Task Force in Baghdad will begin by June 7. "During the transition, the ISG operations group will gather under its control the various intelligence collection operations currently underway, and begin to refocus collection efforts to analytically driven requirements," he said.

Dayton, who serves as director of the Defense Human Service within the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the 75th and "its associated elements have done a truly magnificent job in the two months its been operating under very difficult conditions in Iraq."

Members of the 75th have visited more than 300 sensitive sites. Dayton said all Americans owe the members of the unit a debt of gratitude.

"The ISG represents a major change in the search for WMD in Iraq," he said. "It builds on the work already done by the 75th. But with its robust analytical capability forward and consolidation of the various intelligence disciplines operating in Iraq, now under one national-level headquarters in Iraq, the ISG is well-positioned for some real synergy here as we continue the hunt for weapons of mass destruction and delve into other areas of national interest."

The group will report through military channels through the commander, Combined Joint Task Force 7, to the commander, U.S. Central Command. George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, will help set the protocols for the group's reports, said Steve Cambone, defense undersecretary for intelligence.

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