Iraqis Continue 'Dominant Contribution' to Operations, General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 20, 2006 Iraqi security forces continue to play an increasingly larger role in the fight against terrorism, with many units taking responsibility for their own areas and making connections with citizens, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said today.
In a marked improvement over last year's three battalions, the Iraqi army now has two divisions, 16 brigades and 58 battalions that have the lead in counterinsurgency operations in their areas, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said at a news conference. Also, at least 25 percent of daily company-level and above operations are independent Iraqi security force operations, Lynch said.
"The Iraqi security force continues to make a dominant contribution for operations across Iraq," he said.
Independent operations by Iraqi security forces are successful not only because Iraqis are effective and familiar with the surroundings, but also because Iraqi citizens are willing to work with them and provide intelligence, Lynch said. Iraqi civilians have repeatedly given intelligence to Iraqi security forces that results in effective operations, he said.
"(Iraqi citizens) have indeed reached a point where they are tired of the insurgency, and they realize that they are indeed the target of attacks by the insurgency," he said.
Working together, the coalition and Iraqi security forces have reached a point where almost 50 percent of improvised explosive devices are found and cleared before they detonate, Lynch said. One reason for this success, he said, is that operations have been designed to take sophisticated bomb makers off the battlefield.
In 2005, 115 bomb makers were taken off the battlefield, and since the beginning of 2006, 26 more have been captured, Lynch said. The capture of people with technical expertise results in the production of less-effective IEDs that aren't reliable, he said.
Another factor that has helped reduce attacks in Iraq is the effectiveness of border operations, Lynch said. Foreign fighters conduct most suicide attacks, and the Iraqi security forces have been able to significantly limit the flow of people across Iraq's borders, resulting in a more-than-50-percent reduction in suicide attacks, he said.
Attacks will continue, because insurgents are intent on disrupting the formation of a national unity government, which would mean the death of their cause, Lynch said. Al Qaeda in Iraq is determined to incite sectarian violence, but coalition and Iraqi operations are designed to stop this violence and create an environment in which a government can be formed, he said.
"The absence of an effective national unity government is creating the conditions for the insurgency to do what it wants to do," he said. "The quicker it forms, the quicker we see a reduction in violence. So the Iraqi government does need to form as quickly as possible to reduce this violence."