Reorganization Improves Iraqi Security Forces
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2004 Recent adjustments made to improve Iraqi security forces are working, a senior U.S. officer in Baghdad said June 27.
Ongoing changes "are gradually, but markedly improving the quality of Iraqi security forces," Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, chief of the Office of Security Transition in Iraq, reported during a Pentagon Channel interview.
For example, he noted, some Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops often didn't report to work. Because of a lack of base camps and infrastructure, ICDC members were "almost treated like day guards, where they would walk to work in the morning and then walk home at night," Petraeus explained. Some ICDC members and their families, he noted, became targets for intimidation by terrorists.
"On the days when they were really needed," the general continued, "it was tough for them to get to work or they didn't show up."
The ICDC, Petraeus said, has since been reorganized into the Iraqi National Guard. Now the members are treated like soldiers, he said, rather than security guards.
"That concept is starting to bear fruit," Petraeus reported, though he added the quality in the Iraqi National Guard still is uneven.
"But, there are also areas where we see considerable success," he pointed out. For example, he said, Iraqi security forces had months ago assumed a variety of important security tasks from coalition forces in the north and south of the country. And in the aftermath of deadly terror bombings, Petraeus noted the Iraqi public is seeing Iraqi police, emergency workers and firefighters assisting others and saving lives.
"They are on the job, along with (the Iraqi) National Guard at those locations, side-by-side with coalition forces, or in come cases, not even asking for coalition-force backup," Petraeus said.
"That is a sign of progress," he concluded.
According to a Coalition Provisional Authority poll conducted this month and referenced in a Defense Department document titled "Five Steps to Sovereignty," 52 percent of Iraqis cite security as the most pressing issue facing their country, with rebuilding the infrastructure identified as the second-most urgent priority.