Iraqi Government Reshapes Forces for National Security
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2004 The prime minister of Iraq's interim government announced organizational changes for the country's security forces, along with a plan for taking on Iraq's enemies, at a June 20 Baghdad news conference.
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said his government is committed to confronting the threats it faces when sovereignty transfers to the Iraqi people June 30. He pointed out the continued presence of sabotage elements in Iraq, including those from Saddam's former regime and foreign elements.
These "oppose the aspirations of the Iraqi people and try to obstruct the holding of national elections and to disrupt Iraq's security and the recovery of its economy and national unity," Allawi said. "Many of these elements are financed by foreign parties from outside."
To meet the challenge, he said he has formed a national security committee consisting of Iraq's defense, interior, foreign, justice and finance ministers; his personal national security adviser; the director of Iraqi intelligence; and his senior military adviser. Iraq also is establishing a joint operations command and control center to monitor and control all the activities related to Iraqi national security, the prime minister added.
"We will use all our forces and resources with high resolve to ensure that that the Iraqi people enjoy security, stability, prosperity and democracy," Allawi said. "The Iraqi security forces, the police forces and the army units will participate in the battles to confront the enemies of God and the people.
Special police units trained and equipped to fight terrorists, riots and rebellions, will work along with other Iraqi police.
Allawi noted that Iraq's enemies keep sabotaging and attacking oil, power and water facilities, plus other basic, needed services. "They continue with their attempts to influence our daily life and our economic development," he said. "We will safeguard and protect these basic and necessary national services by continuing to develop and enhance the force that protects the facilities through training and good coordination with the local police and the army."
The Iraqi prime minister said many threats come from outside Iraq. "This is why the border forces, the customs and the employees of the immigration department will studiously seek to secure our protracted borders," he pointed out. "They will use advanced technology to confront the terrorists, smugglers, illegal immigration, and the ongoing smuggling operations. The Iraqi police forces will swiftly intervene with the help of the expert sons of our armed forces of whom we are proud."
Many of these forces already are in position, he added, and "will be called to intervene under the command of the army and with its cooperation."
The interim government has parceled out responsibilities for specific branches of Iraq's armed forces, Allawi said. New units include:
- infantry brigades;
- the national guard (previously the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps;
- rapid intervention forces; and
- Iraqi special forces.
He said the army would focus on border defense and homeland security. "The reserve forces of the army will also assist in dealing with the domestic threats to our national security," he noted. "The national guard would be increased, and their training level upgraded. Six new local divisions will be established, as well as 18 brigades and 50 regiments at least.
Allawi envisions the Iraqi rapid intervention forces thwarting sabotage elements, "especially those who chose to hide behind innocent Iraqis in our cities and villages."
"The Iraqi special forces, which are highly trained and equipped with advanced tools," he continued, "will stalk and arrest all the terrorists and those who tamper with the security of our homeland and citizens."
Iraq's coast guard will secure the country's maritime borders and support the border guard in fighting piracy, smuggling and other illicit activities, he added. The Iraqi air force will monitor the oil pipelines and power facilities, and will ensure the transportation of the internal security forces and the army, he said.
"We consider national security as a high level responsibility. This is why the Iraqi army will submit reports to us through the chief of staff and the defense minister," Allawi said. "As for the police forces and the other security forces, they will be accountable to us through the interior minister and the other respected ministers."
Allawi expressed gratitude for Iraq's liberation, and welcomed help from other nations for the upcoming struggle, which he termed "an Iraqi conflict, first and foremost." He acknowledged Iraqi forces are not yet fully capable.
"The international community can contribute in a very important manner by providing us with the necessary sources for training and the necessary equipment for the Iraqi security forces," he said. "Until our forces restore their full capability, we will remain in need of the support and backing of the friendly multinational forces and also Arab and Islamic countries."
The prime minister expressed hope that more help would be forthcoming from the international community as a result of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546.
"The enemy we are fighting is very evil, and death, destruction and the killing of defenseless Iraqis are the only things it knows," he said. "The Iraqis have suffered much and for many years under the yoke of the repressive regime. This is why the Iraqi people are determined to build a democratic government that provides freedom and equality in rights for all citizens.
"We are ready to work and even get martyred for achieving our objectives, he continued. "I have complete confidence in the Iraqi people, the capability of our forces, and the support of friends in the world. This is why our responsibility as Iraqis is to contribute to the establishment of the security, safety and stability of this country."