By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2006 – Coalition soldiers in Baghdad are committed to helping Iraqi forces take control of their own security and curb violence in the city, the U.S. commander in the region said today. "The security of Baghdad is about Iraqis," Army Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, said in a news conference from Baghdad. "This is about the Iraqi government stepping forward and taking action to lower this violence. This is not about the coalition."
Iraqi security forces, with the assistance of the coalition, launched Operation Together Forward June 14, which is designed to lower violence in and around Baghdad, Thurman said. The operation consists of the implementation of emergency anti-terrorism laws, weapons-control laws, and combined Iraqi-coalition security operations, he said. The combined operations, which are driven by precise intelligence, are defeating and disrupting terrorist cells and capturing high-value targets, Thurman said.
"Since we've kicked this operation off, I've been out there every day, and what I've observed is a commitment from the Iraqi security forces on getting Baghdad in a more secure state," he said. In Multinational Division Baghdad's area of responsibility, eight brigades and 23 battalions of the Iraqi army are in the lead of operations, Thurman said. In the Baghdad province, Iraqi security forces operate in 80 percent of the area, he said. "These Iraqi formations independently plan and execute missions to drive down the violence and rid their nation of terrorist factions," he said.
Iraqi police forces are also developing rapidly, Thurman said. Citizens continue to join the police force, and the Ministry of Interior is working to man all the 262 police stations in and around Baghdad, he said. As the police work in the city and achieve victories against terrorists, they gain more trust and confidence from the Iraqi people, he said. As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki completed his Cabinet by naming ministers of interior and defense, he made security in Baghdad a top priority, Thurman said. Coalition officials are encouraged by Maliki's efforts to achieve common Iraqi and coalition goals in Iraq, he said.
"The government is now poised to take on the hard issues that are important to the Iraqi people," he said. "We're openly optimistic and encouraged by the national unity government's efforts as it begins the challenging task of providing unity, security and prosperity to the Iraqi people."