General Praises New Operational Freedom in Baghdad
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2007 The most important component of President Bush’s strategy to stabilize Iraq is an expanded freedom of operations in Baghdad, the chief operations officer for the Joint Staff said here yesterday.
Iraq’s government has renewed its commitment to prevent political constraints from impeding progress in the capital, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute said in an interview.
“The Iraqi government has committed to a no-holds-barred approach to operations inside Baghdad,” Lute said. “(This means) there’s no geographic constraint on military operations, and there’s no political or sectarian group constraint on military operations.”
He noted these things have constrained progress in earlier operations.
Lute described Baghdad as “the center of gravity for Iraq,” and said that progress in the capital represents greater progress in Iraq. “As goes Baghdad, so goes Iraq,” he said, “so that’s really where our focus has been.
“It’s not only the political capital of Iraq, but it’s the center for media in Iraq, it’s the economic center of Iraq, and it’s the religious center of Iraq,” Lute said. “The multiple of dimensions of Iraqi society come to bear on Baghdad proper.”
The new strategy “is an Iraqi plan; it was Iraqi conceived, it’ll be Iraqi led,” Lute said.
In addition to expanded freedom of operations, he said, the new Iraq strategy differs from past strategies in two fundamental ways.
“First, (Iraqis) have established unity of command over the city of Baghdad,” Lute said. “They’ve placed one Iraqi general officer in charge … of both the Ministry of Defense forces and Ministry of Interior.
“This one three-star Iraqi general will be in charge of not only the Iraqi army but (also) the Iraqi police,” he said. “It will be very important to establish that one-man-in-charge approach to the very important problems of Baghdad.”
Another difference Lute described is the “plus-up” of Iraqi soldiers, a component of the new strategy to stabilize Iraq’s capital city and parts of western Iraq.
“They’re committing three additional brigades of their own army to this effort,” Lute said. “The six Iraqi army brigades that are in Baghdad today will be joined by three more.”
The three new strategic components of the Iraqi strategy will give “fresh promise” to security in Baghdad, Lute said.