Bedein: Iraqi Security Forces Take Over Baghdad
By: David Bedein, The Bulletin
The Middle East Newsline reports that, for the first time since the Saddam Hussein regime, Iraqi security forces have taken over the nation's capital.
A senior military official said Iraq army and police units have taken responsibility for security of Baghdad. Entitled Operation Rule of Law, the Iraq Army, under supervision of the U.S.-led coalition, was given the lead in operations throughout the city.
"They are very capable, competent, and the ability to plan and coordinate operations with coalition forces gets better every day," Brig.
Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said.
In February, Anderson said the Iraq army and police progressed significantly in command skills. He said coalition and Iraqi forces constructed joint security stations and combat outposts throughout Baghdad in a move that terminated the policy of working out of forward-operating bases.
"In the past, we have been able to clear areas, but were not able to hold the areas and secure them over time," Anderson said. "We must demonstrate our ability to maintain the security in Baghdad over a long period of time."
Operation "Rule of Law" was designed by the Iraqi government and led by Iraq Army Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar. Officials said the army, which intends to establish a 24-hour presence, has established a command post in Adnan Palace in the International Zone.
Officials acknowledged that the Iraqi military and police presence in Baghdad - comprised of the army's 6th and 9th divisions and two national police divisions - was far from full strength. They said they hope to deploy at least 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and police in Baghdad.
"The soldiers are ready, motivated and excited about this mission and want to be a part of it," U.S. Army Lt. Col. Art Grimwald, a senior coalition advisor, said. "Before [under Saddam], soldiers were forced into joining. Now the army is composed of an entire volunteer force."
The U.S. Army intends to deploy up to 15 brigade combat teams in Baghdad. Officials said the deployment would be completed by the end of May.
At this point, the Iraqi-U.S. military presence in Baghdad has resulted in fewer attacks. Officials reported about 90 attacks per day in the city, a decrease of as many as 20 from 2006.
"We know hard days certainly lie ahead," Anderson said.
On Sunday, about 1,200 U.S. and Iraqi troops raided Baghdad's Sadr City, the headquarters of the Iranian-sponsored Mahdi Army. Officials said that the operation did not encounter resistance.