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Rumsfeld Says Coalition Off to 'Reasonable Start' in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that coalition forces are off to "a reasonable start" in helping the Iraqi people restore order and restart essential services.

In a May 30 commentary in USA Today, Rumsfeld reminded people that it has only been seven weeks since the liberation of the country.

He wrote about some of the difficulties facing U.S. troops in Iraq's capital. "Baghdad is a city of some 5.5 million people, and coalition forces are dealing with the aftermath of a regime that disgorged some 100,000 criminals out of the Iraqi prisons as the regime fell," he said.

"No one with a knowledge of history would expect Iraq to go from a Stalinist system to a stable and secure free nation in a matter of weeks, or even months, or to do so without facing a series of difficulties."

U.S. commanders in Iraq are receiving more troops to handle the situation. Rumsfeld said that more military police units are flowing into the country and the 1st Armored Division is also establishing its control around Baghdad. Other units continue their efforts throughout the country.

A May 30 U.S. Central Command press release gave a synopsis of some efforts. "Coalition forces conducted 24 raids and a total of 2,157 patrols throughout Iraq," according to CENTCOM officials. "Of those patrols, they conducted 265 joint Iraqi and coalition patrols. They also detained or arrested 213 individuals."

Officials said that 4th Infantry Division soldiers stopped a civilian vehicle May 29 near Samarra and found AK-47 rifles, explosives and rocket-propelled grenade launchers with ammunition. They detained the occupants for further questioning.

A 4th Infantry Division task force captured a senior Baath party official from Tikrit and are questioning him regarding recent attacks against Americans in the area.

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division soldiers conducted a cordon and search mission in Baghdad. They found weapons in a residence, and discovered the residents were Palestinians and Syrians without passports. They confiscated four AK-47 rifles, a 9mm submachine gun, five handguns and a book on terrorism.

Also in Baghdad, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers found weapons caches in several buildings. The caches contained large amounts of ammunition ranging in size from small arms up to large-caliber mortar rounds. Soldiers also discovered official documents. Local citizens living near the cache area reported that other buildings were also used for weapons storage.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, conducted raids May 29 in Hillah after receiving information about Baath party elements reorganizing and retraining. They captured 13 Iraqis, one of whom was wounded. The Marines also confiscated 18 AK-47 rifles, a pistol, a shotgun, six grenades and a variety of explosive devices.

Marines from 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, captured 10 arms dealers in an arms market in Samawah May 29. The Marines seized a variety of small arms, ammunition and grenades.

Marines from 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, working with Iraqi police, confiscated 12 AK-47 rifles and three pistols yesterday while manning checkpoints in Karbala. They detained 18 Iraqis for weapons and black market fuel sales. The Karbala police assumed custody of those detained.

Military police are working closely with Iraqi police in a number of areas in the country. Rumsfeld said May 27 in New York that more than 7,000 Iraqi police are on the streets of Baghdad. Iraqi police are also back on the streets in Karbala, Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, said Central Command officials.

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