WASHINGTON, July 14, 2006 – Iraqi security forces must take the lead in security operations to defeat terrorists in that country, a senior U.S. Army officer said today. Iraqi soldiers and police "are in the fight to the finish," Army Col. Sean B. MacFarland said from Ramadi, Iraq, during a satellite teleconference with Pentagon reporters.
MacFarland is the commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, in Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar province. His unit has operated with Iraqi forces in and around Ramadi since June 11. Over the past several weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have achieved visible gains against insurgents operating in and around Ramadi, the colonel said. "We've established five new combined coalition and Iraqi security force combat outposts and patrol bases both in and around the city," MacFarland explained. "These have had a very disruptive effect on the enemy."
Those outposts also facilitate interaction between U.S. and Iraqi security forces and Ramadi's citizens, MacFarland said. People's attitudes are changing, he noted, with public opinion gradually tilting away from the insurgency and toward the new Iraqi government. "We've established real relationships with the people in parts of the city that we hadn't been able to (do) in the past," the colonel said.
Ramadi's citizens now understand "that the Iraqi security forces are there to stay," MacFarland said. This prompts Iraqis to volunteer intelligence about insurgent operations, he said, as well as provides a conduit for them to declare their needs. MacFarland predicts that the U.S. military presence at the patrol stations will diminish as Iraqi security forces gain capability. Meanwhile, trainers embedded in Iraqi police and army units will "continue to work hand in glove with Iraqi security forces," he said.
U.S. and Iraqi forces will continue their work to win the trust of Ramadi's citizenry and to employ both lethal and non-lethal means to defeat the enemy, the colonel said. "Our own doctrine says that the tenets of counterinsurgency fighting are perseverance and legitimacy," MacFarland said, "and the Iraqi security forces provide us with that instrument to satisfy both of those fundamentals."