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Published:December 6th, 2006 04:37 EST
Iraqi Security Forces on track to take the lead

Iraqi Security Forces on track to take the lead

By SOP newswire

BAGHDAD " Iraqi Security Forces are on track to take care of their own security and combat operations virtually free of Coalition support within the next year, Multi-National Force " Iraq`s spokesman told reporters Tuesday.

The Iraqi Security Force is making progress toward ensuring that Iraq`s future will be determined by Iraqis who want unity and prosperity, and not by outside forces who seek to sow chaos and discord, " Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV said during an operational update briefing at the Combined Press Information Center here.

The transition process is already well under way.

Caldwell told reporters Coalition Forces this week handed the 3rd Iraqi Army Division command and control responsibility over its section of Ninewa province, which includes such major Iraqi cities as Tal Afar and Mosul.

The ability of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division to control its own maneuver space and maintain stability and security in the area will determine the level of assistance they receive from Coalition Forces, " Caldwell said. Thus far, the 3rd Iraqi Army Division headquarters has demonstrated that it is fully capable of taking over security operations in their area. "

The most recent transfer of responsibility, Caldwell explained, means that Iraqis have taken the lead in seven of the 10 Iraqi Army divisions.

  The Iraqi Security Force is increasingly taking the lead every day, " Caldwell said. They are battling the insurgency in order to establish a safe and secure nation. "

In keeping with an accelerated transition timetable, as agreed upon by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at their meeting last week in Amman, Jordan, Caldwell said Iraqi commanders will be in control of all Iraqi divisions by spring 2007.

Having Iraqis control their own Security Forces is a step closer toward Iraqi leaders assuming total security responsibility for their respective areas of operation. Caldwell said two southern provinces, Thi Quar and Muthannah, are already under provincial Iraqi control, which means no Coalition Forces conduct independent operations in those regions. A third province is slated to come under provincial Iraqi control later this month.

Expect to see the entire country under provincial Iraqi control by early fall of next year, " Caldwell said.

Iraqi Security Forces are not the only governmental institution showing a growing ability to take responsibility toward defining a legitimate government in Iraq.

Iraq`s courts are also contributing to the effort to improve the rule of law in Iraq, " Caldwell said, adding that the Central Criminal Court of Iraq has convicted more than 90 foreign fighters, handing down a death sentence, six life prison sentences with no parole, and 24 life sentences with the possibility for parole. From Nov. 10-23 alone, Iraqi courts convicted 41 criminals for crimes ranging from weapons possession to illegal border crossings.

Caldwell praised the Iraqi Government, its courts and its Security Forces for their growing competence and willingness to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility over what the future holds for Iraq. As always, he said, Coalition Forces will stand by ready to assist when needed.

In the end, only Iraqis can provide the solutions to Iraq`s problems, " Caldwell said. We continue to work with the Government of Iraq to develop an Iraqi Security Force that is both operationally capable and enjoys the confidence of all Iraqis, regardless of sect or ethnicity. "

(Combined Press Information Center)