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Iraqi Forces 'Unbelievably Better,' General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2005 – Iraq's security forces are better organized and more combat-ready than they were a year ago, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters here Oct. 6.

Iraqi forces demonstrated such improved capability when they teamed up with U.S. troops to eject dug-in insurgents during recent fighting at the Iraqi city of Tal Afar, Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham said at a Pentagon news briefing.

"The Iraqi security forces units are simply able to do more things and do them better than they could a year ago, Ham, the Joint Chiefs' deputy operations chief, said.

Iraqi forces have displayed increased tactical capability at all operational levels in recent combat operations, Ham explained.

Those improvements constitute "a noteworthy accomplishment," said Ham, who commanded Task Force Olympia in Iraq before joining the Joint Staff. About 190,000 Iraqi security forces are now trained and equipped.

At the conclusion of fighting at Tal Afar, Iraqi troops moved in to secure the city against future insurgent incursions. It is "far better" to have Iraqi security forces stay there maintaining security than to have U.S. or other coalition troops patrolling territory reclaimed from the insurgents, Ham said.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita agreed with Ham, noting to reporters that it has always been the Defense Department's policy to develop Iraqi security forces that are capable of defending that country.

"We are starting to see the beginnings of their capability to exercise independently after an action such as occurred in Tal Afar," Ham said.

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