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Security Forces Making Strides in Northwest Iraq, Commander Says

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2005 – With elections on the horizon, Iraqi security forces in Iraq's northwest provinces are continuing to grow in ability and confidence, a senior commander in Iraq said today.

"The Iraqi security forces continue to make strides in improving security for all Iraqi citizens," Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of Multinational Force Northwest and Task Force Freedom, said during a news conference from Mosul. "Units of the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army divisions are conducting more effective combined and independent counterinsurgency operations and they're continuing to develop to be a source of pride for the country of Iraq."

Progress is evident in that more than 60 election registrations sites have opened on time. That has been possible through the combined efforts and partnership of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, provincial governments and Iraqi security forces, Rodriguez said.

Gains also are being made despite the insurgents' ongoing attempts to accomplish their objective of "destroying the Iraqi nation and the people," he said. Since the election held in January, for example, 62 mid- to high-level terrorist leaders have been captured or killed in Nineveh province alone, including 44 since early May.

"All this (came about) through the combined work of Iraqi and coalition forces," he said. "And several key leaders have been eliminated from the ranks of the insurgency as the result of independent Iraqi operations."

Insurgents' attempts to use improvised explosive devices to their advantage also have been reduced, Rodriguez said. Over the last three months the number and effectiveness of insurgent IEDs is down by about 20 percent, he noted. The general attributes this to Iraqi and coalition forces' better operations conduct, disruption of insurgent senior leadership, less complex IED devices and more local tips. The seizing of several large caches of bomb-making materials also has contributed to that decrease.

"We continue to use all available technology, tactics, techniques and procedures to decrease the impact and effect of IEDs on our forces," Rodriguez said. "The Iraqi people continue to provide quality and timely information to Iraqi security forces that enable us, together, to combat this insurgency."

Provincial police patrolling the streets is bolstering the Iraqi people's confidence to assist in fighting the insurgency, Rodriguez said. To bolster the training and readiness of the provincial police, the Ministry of Interior will open an accredited police academy in Mosul within 30 days, he added.

He said there is also progress on civilian fronts.

"The Nineveh provincial government continues to hold regular regional security and town hall meetings throughout the province, which are attended by progressively larger numbers of community leaders," Rodriguez said. "The regional Sunni leaders and population are also increasingly involved in a political transition that will determine the future of Iraq."

Also, Nineveh continues to expand its undertaking of reconstruction programs, including healthcare facility renovation, new sewers, increased electrical distribution and improved schools and roads -- all to meet people's basic needs. The province is also involved in planning for economic growth.

"We will continue the hard work until the job is complete, and as we move forward every day, (we are) very much encouraged by what we see in the hearts of the Iraqi people as they create opportunities for their future," Rodriguez said.

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