By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
March 23, 2007 – Iraqi soldiers and police are achieving success as the primary providers of security for residents of Nineveh province in northern Iraq, a senior U.S. military officer said today. That success is mainly attributable to the "increased presence and vigilance" provided by Iraqi soldiers and police throughout the province, Army Col. Stephen M. Twitty, commander of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, said from his forward operating base in Mosul, Iraq, during a teleconference with Pentagon reporters.
"We are making significant progress here," Twitty said, noting his brigade has been in Iraq since December. In recent weeks, Iraq soldiers confiscated eight large weapons caches during searches and raids based on their own intelligence resources, he said.
Twitty's 4,000-troop brigade partners with the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Divisions and 18,000 Iraqi police, he said. U.S. and Iraqi units serve together during combined operations, he continued, with Iraqi forces under Iraqi command and control.
The colonel said his main mission is to build up the capabilities of Iraqi soldiers and police in Nineveh province, an area about the size of Maryland. American military specialists are coaching Iraqi officers and soldiers on improving their intelligence-gathering, medical evacuation, and logistics capabilities, he said.
Mastering such skills is critical to the future success of Iraq's military, and he and his trainers continue to work hard to train up their Iraqi partners, Twitty said.
There's no sectarian violence in Nineveh province, the colonel said. The province's population is 40 percent Sunni, 35 percent Kurdish and 15-percent Shiia, with the remaining 10 percent consisting of Turkmen and Christians.
The main threat in Nineveh province consists of small-arms and bombing attacks conducted by supporters of Saddam Hussein's deposed regime and other separatists, Twitty explained. The area averages 10 to 13 enemy attacks daily, he noted.
These attacks consist mostly of vehicle-bomb detonations targeting Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens, he said.
U.S. and Iraqi troops conduct combined anti-insurgent operations from several combat outposts located across the province, Twitty said.
Twitty said the American people should know of the professionalism displayed by the U.S. soldiers patrolling Nineveh province alongside their Iraqi counterparts.
"It made me proud to be out there seeing my soldiers caring about what the Iraqi army soldiers are doing," Twitty said. "Nineveh province, I believe, can be a model for Iraq."
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