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Colonel Credits Predecessor, Iraqi Forces for Improvements

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2008 – Coalition forces in the Madain community south of Baghdad are shifting their efforts from predominantly offensive operations to improving central services and further developing the local government, a military official posted in Iraq said today.

“Progress in Madain is absolutely phenomenal,” Army Col. Pat White, commander of the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, known as the Iron Brigade, told Pentagon reporters via teleconference.

The Iron Brigade’s main mission in Madain may suggest heavy combat, as they’re responsible for filtering the flow of insurgents and munitions entering Baghdad. But attack levels are down from an average of more than three per day in 2007 to less than one now – half of them directed toward Iraqi security forces, White said.

White credited the area’s growth to the overwhelming success of Iraqi forces and his predecessors from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, who were part of the original troop surge in 2007, he said.

“The area saw very little coalition presence prior to 2007,” he said. “Now, the populace is absolutely assured of [coalition] commitment and the commitment of [Iraqi security forces].

Today, Iraqi forces have a much bigger role in the region’s security efforts, he said.

The “ever-increasing professionalism” of Iraqi security forces and the contributions of the “Sons of Iraq” citizen security group have led to security operations in the area being conducted “by, with and through Iraqi security forces,” the colonel said.

“Coalition and Iraqi security efforts combine to deny insurgent sanctuary and provide a solid foundation of hope for the free citizens of Madain,” he added.

The increased security conditions also have allowed for significant economic growth. Since their arrival to Madain in May, the Iron Brigade soldiers have continued their predecessors’ efforts to support the local civil work infrastructure. They have also supplemented the Iraqi government’s own funding initiatives, White said.

Recently, State Department entities and the local government have facilitated the competition of projects worth nearly $1 million. Plans are in the works for more projects worth more than $9 million dollars that the Iraqi government will fund, he said.

“The great news story of all of this is the [Iraqi government’s] increasing capacity to fund civil works reconstruction,” he said. “Their financial commitment in Madain exceeds coalition forces by about a 60-to-40 ratio. Their plans clearly show their commitment to take over reconstruction funding and move beyond its reliance on U.S. funds.”

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