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DoD Officials: Iraqis Responding as Promised to Baghdad Security Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2007 – The new security plan for Baghdad is progressing as planned, with Iraqi brigades arriving as promised and the first elements of the U.S. “surge” force operating with them in the capital city, Defense Department officials told Pentagon reporters today.

Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for the Joint Staff, joined Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Near East and South Asian affairs, in reporting during a Pentagon briefing that the Iraqis appear to be rising to their commitments as the new security plan for Baghdad is implemented.

“Early progress has been made,” Lute said. “We’re beginning to see good, solid evidence across all the lines of commitment made by the Iraqi government.”

While recognizing that it’s still very early in the effort, Lutz said early indications show “so far, so good.”

“The aim, of course, is to break the cycle of sectarian violence and thereby provide time and space to the Iraqi political structure to give them an opportunity to assume more fully complete political, economic and military lead in their own country,” he said.

On the security front, Iraqi brigades now are assigned to seven of the nine Baghdad districts, where they are working in partnership with seven U.S. battalions, he said.

Within these districts, the first 10 joint security stations have opened, providing a 24/7 security presence, he said. These centers, eventually to number about 30, are being manned jointly by Iraqi army and Iraqi national and local police, as well as their U.S. support chain.

The first of three Iraqi army brigades slated to move into Baghdad already is operating there, and a second brigade is en route, Lute reported. The third brigade is programmed to deploy later this month.

Of five U.S. brigades to become part of the “plus-up,” the first, the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade, is already operating in Baghdad. The second of the five brigades is en route to Kuwait, from which it will move into Baghdad. Three other brigades are still in the United States, doing preparatory training before they deploy, he said.

U.S. forces on the ground “are satisfied with the strength,” of the arriving Iraq units, Kimmitt said. He emphasized that the security plan “was built recognizing the difference between U.S. and Iraqi units,” and that Iraqi troops must leave their units to take their pay home to their families.

“Thus far, the units … are coming in at an adequate level for them to perform the Baghdad security plan,” Kimmitt said. “The number of what they’d come with was fully anticipated by the planners, and it’s still within the range that they believe is going to provide successful in the Baghdad security plan.”

Lute emphasized that as the Iraqis move increasingly into the lead for their operations, U.S. troops will remain under U.S. command. “There will be an unbroken link from the privates on the ground to the president of the United States,” he said. “It will never break.”

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Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, USA

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