Raids, Patrols in Iraq More Focused, Sophisticated
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2003 Improvements in the security situation in Iraq have allowed local commanders to become more focused and more sophisticated in their actions against the remnants of the former regime, Pentagon officials said today.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Joint Staff operations director, and Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita expressed condolences to the families of two 1st Armored Division soldiers killed in a firefight in Baghdad and the Iraqi policemen killed in a terrorist bombing of the Jordanian embassy.
"I think it is interesting that this clearly was an action targeted at innocents," Schwartz said of the car bombing that killed 11. "We have the presence of terrorists in Iraq, along with Baathists and foreign fighters and so on."
"We will seek out, develop the best intelligence that we can and we will act on that intelligence," the general said.
Di Rita said the coalition forces will continue offensive operations to root out these terrorists and other enemies. "The offensive operations that we have conducted over the past several weeks continue to provide some significant return," he said. Coalition commanders say they are able to get more precise in raids because of the intelligence these operations yield, he pointed out.
Schwartz said coalition forces are continuing to track down former regime loyalists, "noncompliant forces" and common criminals. The general said that Operation Victory Bounty is tracking down members of the Saddam Fedayeen, and he announced that U.S. forces have detained more than 70 members of the group. This includes general and field-grade officers.
He said coalition forces are conducting almost 2,000 patrols per day, including hundreds of night patrols and patrols with Iraqi police. The way patrols have been conducted is changing, Schwartz noted.
"The notion is that we're actually becoming more sophisticated," he said. "In those cases where we have to conduct a more traditional raid, we will do so. In those cases where it is possible to act in a more sophisticated fashion, we will do that as well either because we have better intelligence or we understand the environment better."
Schwartz said that attacks against coalition personnel have "declined some" in the last three to four weeks. "My personal read is that this is a result of offensive operations of our commanders in the field who are engaging the mid- level Baathists, the Fedayeen and others actively," he observed. "My read is that's the underlying cause (to the drop)."
Di Rita said that number of attacks will "ebb and flow" but that people on the ground coalition and Iraqi believe the tactics are effective.
In addition to security missions, coalition civil affairs troops are making great strides throughout the country, he said. Civil affairs personnel are working to improve rail service, making hospital repairs, renovating schools and assisting farmers.