Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

Iraqi Army Assumes Responsibility

The Glass is Half-Full

6 August 2006

By Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Commander, Multi-National Force – Iraq


This week Iraqis celebrated another significant advance toward their sovereign democracy. Today the 4th Iraqi Army Division assumed responsibility for operations from the American 101st Airborne Division. Half the Iraqi Army divisions are now in the lead for planning and controlling security operations in Iraq.

Although Iraqis still suffer horrendous brutality at the hands of death squads and terrorists, the strategic glass in Iraq is half-full. Now, after decades of dictatorship and oppression, Iraqis mark another milestone on their march to freedom and security self-reliance. Despite the efforts of those who would wrest newfound freedom from their grasp, the Iraqi people and their security forces continue to press inexorably forward. As Iraqi security forces stand up, their Coalition partners can stand down. Indeed, 4th Division’s assumption of responsibility for controlling counterinsurgency operations releases some Coalition forces to support operations elsewhere in the nation.


Gen. George W. Casey Jr. shakes the hand of an Iraqi Army Soldier as the Fourth Iraqi Army Division assumes security responsibility from the 101st Airborne Division. (Photo by MNF-I)


While there are still challenges ahead, the overall strategy for Iraq is working. Violence leads the headlines from Iraq, and threatens Iraq’s nascent democracy. But in the majority of Iraq’s provinces, peace and stability prevail. Last month, Muthanna was the first of Iraq’s provinces to accept responsibility for maintaining domestic security. Other provinces will join her soon. All across the country Iraqis are assuming the lead, gaining confidence, and asserting security self-reliance.

More than 275,000 Iraqi Soldiers and Police work every day protecting their nation. So far, 48 of 110 operating bases nationwide have been transferred to Iraqis.

This week, five Army divisions, 2,522 brigades and 85 battalions – more than half the planned number of Army units - lead security operations in Iraq. By year’s end, 325,000 trained and equipped members of Iraqi security forces will be serving their nation, more than 80 percent of Army units will be in the lead, nearly half the bases in Iraq, and at least half of Iraq’s provinces should be responsible for maintaining domestic law and order within their boundaries.

Fourth Iraqi Army Division headquarters’ assumption of security responsibility lead is one more step in the right direction.

Only Iraqis can achieve enduring strategic success in Iraq. And area by area, province by province, Iraqis are assuming responsibility for securing their country. Much has been achieved and much remains to be accomplished. Some may focus on the negative and claim that the road ahead is hard and long.

Nevertheless, this week, with the 4th Division’s achievement, it is beyond dispute that the Iraqi Army is more than half way to its goal of taking the lead in maintaining security for a free and democratic Iraq.


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