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Iraqis Shouldering More of Security Mission

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2003 – While the number of U.S. forces in Iraq will drop by May 2004, the security capability in the country will increase, DoD officials said today.

Part of this is because the United States is placing different capabilities in the country, but the main reason is because the Iraqis are shouldering an increasing portion of the security burden.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers have always said it's important for Iraqis to pick up their country's security mission. And now that push is starting to pay off.

Each day, the number of Iraqis involved in security matters is increasing. Last week, DoD officials said there were around 80,000 Iraqis involved in the five security forces. Today, that number is 118,000.

The Iraqi security force will continue to grow. By the end of 2004, coalition officials hope the Iraqis will have around 200,000 members and be able to take over a large segment of the security mission.

The Iraqi police force is the largest security group with around 60,000 members. Iraqi police require at least eight weeks of training, and there are a number of training areas around the country. The ultimate goal is around 70,000 police.

The next largest security force is the Facilities Protection Service with around 35,000 members. The group maintains watch on fixed facilities such as oil lines, electrical pylons, powerhouses, hospitals and the like. The training for these forces is minimal. The Iraqi Governing Council estimates the country will need about 50,000 members in this force.

The Border Patrol has about 12,000 members. The group is working to shut off smuggling from neighboring countries, foreign terrorists from coming into Iraq and former regime leaders from escaping the country.

The Civil Defense Force is a militia-like organization that is aiding coalition units. It numbers about 7,000 now, but officials would like to see it grow to 40,000. The force has proven its worth in a number of operations, most notably during a recent operation in Karbala, officials said.

The final piece to the security puzzle is the new Iraqi army. Currently with 700 men, the force will grow to 35,000. This is the most expensive security force. It requires new equipment and extensive training.

But the coalition is adding to the security forces quickly. The reasons are many: First, the programs are all now operating in various portions of the country. Second, the recruiting infrastructure is in place and many of those now in the security forces are urging friends to join. Third, the coalition pays decent wages.

The Iraqi security forces don't have the training or equipment that coalition forces do, but they speak the language and "they do live in the neighborhood," said Rumsfeld during a press briefing.

Myers said the now-signed supplemental request has money earmarked for training and equipping the forces. "It's certainly our obligation, and the obligation of the Governing Council and the ministries that are stood up, not to send Iraqis out to do tasks for which they're not properly organized, trained and equipped," he said.

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