May 12th, 2006 04:00 EST
Iraqi Forces continue to lead from the front
BAGHDAD, Iraq (May 12, 2006) – “An Iraq that's at peace with its neighbors and an ally in the war on terror, has a representative government that respects the rights of all Iraqis, has a security force that can maintain domestic order, and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists.”
This comment has been a staple in nearly every press briefing from Multi-National Force-Iraq. In his last press conference as the spokesperson for MNF-I, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch discussed operational issues, Iraqi manpower and successes.
According to Maj. Gen. Lynch, there are currently 254,000 trained Iraqi security forces in country and 325,000 expected by the end of the year.
“They are assuming lead for counterinsurgency operations all across Iraq. By this summer, 75 percent of the brigades will have the lead, and by this fall, 80 percent of the divisions,” Maj. Gen. Lynch said. “By God, that is progress.”
Lynch also pointed out that nearly 30 percent of our company-level and above missions are independent Iraqi Security Force missions…Iraqi-planned, Iraqi-conducted and most of all, Iraqi led.
Missions such as one in a wide area south of Mosul demonstrated the increasing capability of Iraqi security forces. Units from the 2nd Iraqi Army Division conducted Operation Cool Spring VIII May 9, capturing suspected terrorists and displaying an increased capability to transition to security lead in the area.
Forces from the 3rd Iraqi Army Brigade planned, conducted and led the operation, which involved about 550 Iraqi Army Soldiers and about 85 Coalition Forces.
In addition to capturing three individuals on the Iraqi Army’s most wanted list, the operation also built the confidence of the Iraqi Soldiers who planned and conducted the operation and increased the sense of security for Iraqi citizens.
Maj. Gen. Lynch also highlighted several key operations which were of major significance.
Ansar al Sunna member and chemical expert, Ali Wali, was killed May 6 during a counterterrorist raid in the Mansur district of Baghdad.
Ali Wali was an Iraqi Kurd who served as a key leader in various aspects of Ansar al Sunna’s operations. In addition to being a senior explosives expert, Ali Wali was heavily involved in various aspects of Ansar al Sunna training and efforts to reorganize the network.
Additionally, Abu Abd Al Rahman, the so called “Emir of the Tigris River Valley” for Al Qaeda in Iraq, was captured by Coalition Forces in a series of raids May 5 in the vicinity of Samarra.
Rahman was responsible for a network that facilitates foreign fighters and weapons through the Tigris River Valley. Four others were also detained and four foreign fighters were killed in the raids.
The continued success of operations like these demonstrates a weakening of the insurgency and terrorist efforts which was clearly spelled out after an April 16 raid in the Yusifiyah area where Coalition Forces discovered a large amount of documents and videos ranging from plans to critiques, including Al Qaeda in Iraq’s strategy in Baghdad and how the terrorist organization lacks leadership, military capability and Iraqi support.
“It’s not about us, it’s all about them,” Maj. Gen. Lynch added. “As Iraqi Forces stand up, Coalition Forces will stand down.”
(Compiled from Defense Department sources)