By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Feb. 27, 2007 – Iraqi soldiers and police are doing their part to help secure Baghdad against terrorists as additional U.S. and Iraqi troops flow into the capital city, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters today. "The Iraqi security forces are making significant strides" in support of Operation Law and Order, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad.
Odierno cited a weekend operation in which Iraqi planes airlifted fresh Iraqi troops into Baghdad. That mission showcased "a high level of coordination and planning," he said. In addition, Iraqi police and coalition troops teamed up in another weekend operation that netted "a very large cache of enemy weapons that are designed to kill both soldiers and civilians, alike," the general said.
American and Iraqi forces also have been busy establishing 10 security districts across Baghdad as part of plans to institute an around-the-clock presence to deter insurgent violence, Odierno said.
President Bush directed the deployment of more than 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines to Baghdad and restive areas of western Iraq. However, the new security plan was conceived and is being led by the Iraqis, Odierno said.
Additional Iraqi security forces, under the command of Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, continue to flow into Baghdad, Odierno said, with four more battalions expected to arrive over the next two weeks. Right now, about 14 brigades of Iraqi soldiers and police are deployed in Baghdad, he said.
Gambar's headquarters in Baghdad is expected to become fully operational by March 1, Odierno said. Everyone involved expects that Operation Law and Order will take some time to accomplish, he added.
"The bottom line is we will stay at this until we think the people feel safe in their neighborhoods," Odierno said. "And, it's going to take months."
Meanwhile, additional U.S. forces Bush called for have yet to arrive, Odierno said, noting he expects American forces to "flow in through May."
The new security plan launched at mid-month appears to have achieved a dampening effect on insurgent activity in Baghdad so far, Odierno said. "We have seen a decrease (in violence) in the last three weeks, a pretty radical decrease, actually," Odierno said.
Yet, it's too early in the operation to draw any hard conclusions, he added.
Ongoing U.S.-Iraqi security operations in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq "are targeting anyone who is acting against the government of Iraq," Odierno said. "Whether it be Sunni or Shiia, whether they live in Sadr City or Ramadi, whether they live in Mansour, they will be targeted if they're working against the goals of the government of Iraq, which is providing stability to its citizens."
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