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Published:November 20th, 2006 03:38 EST
U.S. boosts Iraq Army, Police trainers

U.S. boosts Iraq Army, Police trainers

By SOP newswire

WASHINGTON — More U.S. officers and noncommissioned officers are being assigned to mentoring and training duties with Iraqi Army and Police units in Anbar province, a senior U.S. Marine officer in Iraq said Nov. 17.

“We’ve taken Marines and Soldiers out of our combat formations so that they can work more closely with Iraqi security forces," Col. Larry D. Nicholson told Pentagon reporters from his headquarters in Fallujah during a satellite-televised news conference.

Nicholson is the commander of Regimental Combat Team 5, a large contingent of Soldiers and Sailors operating across 1,800-square miles in Anbar. The Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi are part of RCT-5’s area of operations.

The colonel said he concurs with Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander, U.S. Central Command, who recently stated victory over insurgents in Iraq can best be achieved by establishing capable, nonpartisan Iraqi Army and Police Forces backed by a unified Iraqi government.

“Iraqis and Americans alike believe that Iraq can stabilize and that the key to stabilization is effective, loyal, nonsectarian Iraqi Security Forces coupled with an effective government of national unity," Abizaid said during his Nov. 15 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“General Abizaid is exactly right," said Nicholson, who has commanded RCT-5 since February. His unit’s principal mission is to train Iraqi Soldiers and Police.

The colonel said his unit has “probably doubled the size" of the teams of U.S. military officer and NCO instructors assigned to Iraqi Army and Police units. Those instructor teams, he noted, also include support personnel such as drivers, radio operators and medics.

“I think that we could even double that again," Nicholson asserted, adding, “we should be doing less as the Iraqis do more."

Nicholson saluted the new Iraqi Security Forces, noting they are intelligent and quick learners under the tutelage of U.S.

“There’s a great deal of satisfaction of seeing an Iraqi platoon, which you’ve been working with and training, going out and just ‘nailing’ a patrol and just doing great out there," he observed.

Partnership, cooperation and mutual respect play big roles in developing effective Iraqi Security Forces, Nicholson pointed out.

“We are, as Marines, a better unit when we go out and we have Iraqis with us," the colonel observed. The Iraqis, he explained, “see things we’ll never see."

For example, Iraqi Soldiers and Police can quickly identify non-local people or foreigners who may be potential terrorists, Nicholson observed.

“It doesn’t matter how many interpreters I have, you can’t train that," Nicholson remarked. “So, we actively seek to work with the Iraqi forces each and every time we go out." military instructors.