By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2006 – The coalition and Iraqi security forces presence in Baghdad is growing, and soon residents will notice an improvement, a senior defense official said here today. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the added U.S. and Iraqi forces in the capital should tamp down the sectarian violence that concerns leaders in the country.
"Those forces will be applied to the current security challenge that exists in Baghdad in a way to bring some stability to the area," Whitman said. "I think over time you will see the increased presence have an effect on the region." The 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team is the main U.S. reinforcement to Baghdad. DoD officials extended the Alaska-based brigade's stay in Iraq for up to 120 days. Iraqi troops and other assets are also joining the effort in and around Baghdad.
The shift is part of the new Baghdad Security Plan.
DoD officials are most concerned with sectarian violence between Shiia and Sunni Muslims in the capital. But the Sunni/Shiia split is not the only source of violence in the nation, Whitman said. Officials also are concerned about foreign terrorists, tribal divisions and simple criminal activity in Baghdad. "This is not a monolithic enemy," Whitman said.
Iraqi security forces are growing and becoming more capable, the spokesman said. Commanders in the country say the fledgling democracy's army is consistently capable. Police forces "are developing and the (coalition) military is working closely with the Ministry of the Interior to develop those forces," he said.
The emphasis is on getting the police to the same level of capability and performance as the army, he explained.