Increased Iraqi Army Capacity Allows Coalition to Shift Focus
By Navy Seaman William Selby
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2008 With terrorists on the run and violence down, coalition forces are now also able to concentrate on areas other than the battlefield, thanks to the improvement of the Iraqi security forces, a military official said yesterday.
Al Qaeda insurgents are “in disarray” and attacks are down 80 percent since June of last year, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, chief of staff of Multinational Corps Iraq told bloggers during a teleconference from Iraq.
“The corps and our major commands have driven violence down to four-year lows and secured the Iraqi population in the process,” he said.
Though officials believe the terrorist to be on the defensive, Allyn says one thing he has learned about al Qaeda, is that they are a resilient organization.
“We are respectful of AQI as a threat, but we will continue to degrade their capability and prevent them from destabilizing the great progress being achieved by Iraqi security forces and coalition forces here,” Allyn said.
Coalition forces have also interrupted the flow of foreign fighters and Iranian trained special group criminals into Iraq and continue to seize their financial sources.
With AQI in disarray and violence at a four year low, Allyn said coalition forces can focus on improving other areas of Iraq.
“Security gains and the increased capacity of the Iraqi security forces enable us to increase focus on non-kinetic operations,” Allyn said.
The general outlined three key areas of importance in this arena. One is to continue to professionalizing the Iraqi security forces. Another is to continue to focus on transitioning the “Sons of Iraq” local anti-terrorist groups to become employees of the government of Iraq. employees and to continue helping Iraq in securing its border.”
The transition of the Sons of Iraq has been a potential area of friction for the Iraqi government, but Allyn said in fact it has been a great success story so far.
“We’re in the progress of transitioning the first 54,000 in Baghdad as we speak,” Allyn said. “We believe its the first major stride toward national reconciliation, which is going to be essential as this nation continues to develop.”
Although the professionalization of Iraqi security forces remains a priority, Allyn said they are already headed in the right direction.
U.S. forces are now focused on delivering a similar growth in capacity across the rest of the partners and the Iraqi security forces through training and leader development, he explained.
Due to the efforts of coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government, Allyn said, the enemy’s freedom of movement and their effectiveness have been reduced.
“We continue to focus on preventing Iran from supplying lethal accelerants that are intended to destabilize the government and also preventing foreign fighters from crossing the boarder from Syria,” he said. “As we look down the road at deeper threats that face this country, enabling Iraq to secure its own boarders is essential to their long-term stability.”
Since the surge began, Allyn said the offensive tempo has driven down Iraqi civilian deaths over 80 percent, which has given the civilians a sense of security.
“Shops are opening up, families are going about doing what normal families do,” he said.
That sense of security can be attributed to four factors, the courage of our service members serving here in Iraq, the growth in increasing capability of Iraqi security force partners, the heroic contributions of the Sons of Iraq and the growing capacity of the government of Iraq to lead towards sovereignty.
(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of Defense Media Activity.)