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New Buildup of Baghdad Security Plan Starts

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2007 – The new phase of the Baghdad security plan, which the Iraqi government announced yesterday, is a step in the right direction, but must be given time to work, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said today.

The buildup, dubbed “Operation Law and Order,” was Iraqi-planned and is supported fully by the Iraqi government, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters. Iraq’s council of representatives unanimously endorsed a resolution supporting the new strategy, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged that there will no longer be any political interference in military operations, Caldwell said.

“This new iteration of the Baghdad security plan is Iraqi-conceived and Iraqi-led,” he said. “It is an evolution of the previous phases with specific enhancements being made in the political, military and economic spheres based on lessons learned from the past operations.”

Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, the officer in charge of the Baghdad security plan, last night announced a 72-hour closure of some border crossings along the Iranian and Syrian borders, restrictions on civil liberties and the suspension of weapons licenses except for permits issued to authorized security officials and contractors.

The first additional Iraqi forces and the first of five additional U.S. brigades have arrived in Baghdad and are conducting operations, Caldwell said. Under the new plan, Iraqi army, police, and coalition forces will actually live together in joint security stations throughout Baghdad to be closer to the Iraqi people they are protecting.

The additional forces will also enable the coalition to create more transition teams to assist, teach and coach the Iraqi security forces, Caldwell said. The number and size of the teams will increase, and the teams will reach down to the lower-level units within the Iraqi army and police units, he explained.

Caldwell stressed that, while the plan has much potential for success, it will take time to yield results. It will take time for all the additional troops to be deployed to Baghdad and begin operations, and the additional Iraqi and American troops will not all be in place until late May, he said.

Economic improvements, which are a key element of the new plan, will also take time to take effect, Caldwell said. Additionally, Iraqi leadership needs to further develop to ensure the problems have long-term solutions, he said.

“Much of the criticism of Prime Minister Maliki's government forgets that it is still less than 10 months old, trying to undo the damage caused by 35 years of brutal, corrupt dictatorship,” Caldwell said. “This government, along with the Council of Representatives, is learning as it goes and will not discover solutions to the complex problems facing Iraq overnight.”

Iraqi security forces have improved lasting the past year and continue to gain in confidence and capability, Caldwell said. The Iraqi forces understand they need to work to gain the trust of all Iraqis, yet they still suffer from deficiencies in leadership, logistics and intelligence. It will take more than two months to solve these problems, he said.

The non-military aspects of the Baghdad security plan have been strengthened lately, Caldwell said. On Feb. 8, the council of representatives approved a new Iraqi budget that includes $10 billion for economic development programs, such as refurbishing state-owned enterprises and assisting small businesses through microfinancing. This week, the first state-owned enterprise won a competitive U.S. government procurement bid for $44 million to provide new Iraqi army uniforms, he said.

To assist in getting this money into Baghdad's districts, provincial reconstruction teams consisting of U.S. State Department, United States Agency for International Development, U.S. military and Iraqi culture advisors will work directly for each of the U.S. military brigade commanders, Caldwell said.

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