War on Terrorism

Monday, April 30, 2007

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Nicholas E. Riehl, 21, of Shiocton, Wis., died Apr. 27 in Fallujah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat patrol. He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Christopher Degiovine, 25, of Lone Tree, Colo. Degiovine died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office at (910) 450-7200.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Jeremy R. Greene, 24, of Springfield, Ohio, died Apr. 28 at Forward Operating Base Tillman, Afghanistan, due to injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident. His death is under investigation. Greene was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-8286.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Apr. 27 in Fallujah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. They were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Killed were:
Spc. Eddie D. Tamez, 21, of Galveston, Texas.
Pfc. David A. Kirkpatrick, 20, of Upland, Ind.


For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.

Three Cops from Local Agencies in New York State

Note: The book on Critical Incident Management is relevant to terrorism, and response to "all hazards" emergencies by domestic law enforcement. Click on Vincent Faggiano's name for more information about the book.

Police-Writers.com is a website dedicated to listing state and local police officers who have authored
books. The police officers from local agencies in New York State: Vincent Faggiano, Michael T. Rayburn and William Keegan.

Vincent Faggiano retired from the Rochester Police Department (New York) at the rank of captain. He was responsible for the initial development of the BowMac Critical Incident Response training programs, both for first responders and executive command post managers. He has delivered these programs to thousands of law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and elected officials in the United States and abroad. He is the co-author of Critical Incident Management. According to the book description, Critical Incident Management, “shows you how to respond effectively to any incident. The book focuses on first responders and initial actions, the areas typically overlooked by police agencies and the ones most criticized after the fact.”

Michael T. Rayburn has over 26 years of experience in the law enforcement and the security field; and, is currently a 17 year veteran of the Saratoga Springs Police Department (New York). He is also an Adjunct Instructor for Smith & Wesson at the Smith & Wesson Academy in Springfield Massachusetts where he teaches Instinctive Point Shooting, Vehicle Stops, Rapid Shotgun Deployment and Instinctive Point Shooting Instructor Certification.

Michael Rayburn has written a number of articles for various law enforcement related magazines including Law & Order, The Police Marksman and Police magazine. He is the author of three books, Advanced Vehicle Stop Tactics, Advanced Patrol Tactics and Basic Gunfighting 101. His video, "Instinctive Point Shooting with Mike Rayburn" is a top seller in the law enforcement and combat shooting communities. According to former Calibre Press, Inc. Street Survival Seminar Senior Instructor Dave Grossi, "Mike Rayburn is a gifted writer, an experienced trainer with a wealth of real-world knowledge and experience to dispense."

Lieutenant
William Keegan, Jr., is a twenty–year veteran of the New York Port Authority Police Department. He was awarded the highest medal for his contribution as Operations Commander of the WTC Rescue/Recovery Teams. He was also awarded the Medal of Valor for his rescue of children trapped in an elevator during the 1993 WTC bombing.

According to the book description of his book, Closure: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Recovery Mission, “On the morning of 9/11, the New York Port Authority Police Department was the first uniformed service to respond to the attack on the World Trade Center. When the towers collapsed, thirty-seven of its officers were killed -- the largest loss of law enforcement officers in U.S. history.

That afternoon, Lieutenant
William Keegan began the work of recovery. The FDNY and NYPD had the territory, but Keegan had the map. PAPD cops could stand on top of six stories of debris and point to where a stairwell had been; they used PATH tunnels to enter "the pile" from underneath. Closure shares many never-before-told stories, including how Keegan and his officers recovered 1,000 tons of gold and silver from a secret vault to keep the Commodities Exchange from crashing; discovered what appeared to be one of the plane's black boxes; and helped raise the inspirational steel beam cross that has become the site's icon.”

Police-Writers.com now hosts 509
police officers (representing 214 police departments) and their 1075 books in six categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Forces Capture 21 Suspected Al Qaeda in Iraq Members

American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2007 – U.S. troops captured 21 suspected
terrorists April 28 in Iraq during a series of raids across the country that targeted al Qaeda in Iraq, military officials said. "We're achieving a deliberate, systematic disruption in the al Qaeda in Iraq network," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said.

The captures "will slow al Qaeda's ability to target and harm the people of Iraq," Garver said.

Coalition forces netted six suspects during an operation conducted northwest of Karmah, Iraq. The detainees reportedly are linked to murders, kidnappings, attacks on coalition forces and the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, officials said.

Another two suspects were nabbed southeast of al Asad, including one person suspected of being an intelligence officer for al Qaeda in Iraq, officials said.

Two more captured suspected terrorists have alleged al Qaeda ties, officials noted, and are linked to the recent bombing of the Sarafiyah Bridge in Baghdad.

Another four suspected
terrorists were detained in Mosul by coalition troops. Those detainees are accused of distributing weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq agents and of operating terror network that employed vehicle-borne IEDs, officials said.

Three other suspected
terrorists were captured during a raid east of Balad, Iraq, and coalition forces captured four more suspected terrorists during a raid in Baghdad's Sadr-City section April 28, officials said.

The recent captures illustrate the coalition's determination to put added pressure on al Qaeda operatives in Iraq and elsewhere, officials said.

Pentagon officials announced April 27 that senior al Qaeda leader Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi had been captured last fall and is now being held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In other Iraq news, coalition aircraft destroyed a truck laden with explosives April 27 during nighttime strike just east of Karmah, Iraq, officials said.

The truck had been stopped and searched by
U.S. Marines at a checkpoint, who'd discovered the vehicle was loaded with explosives. Marine fighter jets used precision-guided munitions to destroy the truck.

Also, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found a weapons cache during a patrol west of al Iskandariyah, Iraq, on April 27. The cache contained mortar equipment, a machine gun, a rifle, 75 hand grenades and other items.

In a separate operation, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers found a large weapons cache in Baghdad's Ghazaliya district April 26.

The cache yielded 127 mortar tubes, 15 hand grenades, 13 rifles, three anti-tank mines, more than 200 pounds of dynamite, small-arms ammunition, 150 fuses, and other items, officials said.

The Iraqi soldiers also detained seven suspected
terrorists during the raid.

(Information compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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U.S., Afghan Troops Conduct Raids in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2007 – American and Afghan security forces teamed up to shut down a militant suicide-vehicle-bomb-making network during an operation in the Bati Kot area of Nangarhar province April 29, military officials reported. As the raid began, coalition troops trying to enter the militants' compound came under small-arms fire, officials said. The coalition troops returned fire, killing four militants.

Unfortunately, a woman and a teenager were killed in the crossfire, officials reported, and a young child and a teenage female were wounded. The injured Afghan civilians are being treated at a coalition medical facility.

Coalition forces found several AK-47 rifles, shotguns, chest racks with ammunition and material suitable for constructing improvised explosive devices. An adult male found in the compound was detained for questioning.

"We are saddened at the loss of civilian life," said
Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesman. "It is extremely unfortunate that militants put others' lives in danger by hiding among their families."

The raid was conducted on a tipster's information citing the compound as a staging area for upcoming suicide-vehicle-borne-improvised explosive device attacks on coalition forces in the Bati Kot area, officials said.

A recent militant-staged SVBIED attack in the Bati Kot area had targeted a convoy, officials said, in which several Afghan civilians had been killed.

Additionally, a separate coalition-forces operation conducted in Nangarhar province April 29 netted IED-making material and four suspected militants, officials reported.

In other Afghanistan news, U.S. and Afghan security forces seized an Afghan male and weapons during a raid on a suspected Taliban safe house in Khowst province April 29, officials reported.

A search of several buildings yielded hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket launchers and an AK-47 rifle, officials said. Militants had been seen exiting a nearby house, according to the resident family. The Taliban had stolen their money and abused them, the family said, while using their house as a hiding place.

"Taliban members don't have the interest of peaceful Afghans at heart," Belcher said. "They are simply grabbing for power and putting innocent families in harm's way in an attempt to renew their hold on this country."

Another coalition-Afghan security forces-staged raid on a house in the Gubuz district of Khowst province on April 28 resulted in the seizure of several automatic weapons and the detention of three adult males, officials reported. Intelligence reports cited the house as a militant meeting and hiding place.

In other news Afghan and coalition security forces killed 10 Taliban operatives and destroyed two buildings during an air and ground engagement in Helmand province April 28, officials said.

The Taliban had attacked a coalition convoy, which fought back and used close-air support to destroy enemy forces firing from nearby buildings.

"Taliban forces clearly lost this engagement and will continue to lose throughout Afghanistan," Belcher said.

Additionally, coalition officials reported the death of a key militant leader as the result of an allied operation conducted April 22 in Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan.

Habib Jan, a senior
leader of insurgent forces operating in the Pech Valley and northeast Afghanistan, was killed in the engagement along with four other militants, officials reported. The deceased militants had been flushed out and were being chased by Afghan National Police and Afghan soldiers.

Jan and his followers were wanted by authorities for their role in local bombing attacks, assassinations, and intimidation efforts throughout the region, officials said.

Afghan officials celebrated Jan's death, citing it as a major victory against the terrorists. Haji Zalmay, the Pech district sub-governor, said Jan "murdered innocent people" and was a major cause of instability in the region.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force - 82 news releases.)

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Marine Band Members Provide Security in Al Asad

By Cpl. Zachary Dyer, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2007 – The
Marines of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band have put down their instruments and picked up their rifles to become part of the security detachment for the Tactical Air Control Center here. "All Marines are riflemen," said Sgt. Austin Hunt, a trumpet player with the band and a member of the TACC security force. "It's different going from the band to doing something else, yes, but it's great. Every time you change something up, get out of the monotony, it's a good thing."

Making the change from music to security was easy for the Marines of the band, according to Sgt. Stephen Talbot, a trombone player and member of TACC security.

"It came pretty naturally," said Talbot. "We take a lot of pride in the fact we're riflemen first and that we are able to plug into different environments, different situations and scenarios. So coming here was fun, because it's a lot different than being out on the parade deck playing for ceremonies. But at the same time, it just incorporated a lot of different elements of
training from boot camp all the way to the pre-deployment training we received before we got here."

The pre-deployment
training for the Marines ranged from weapons handling to detainee operations, according to Talbot. The job of TACC security has kept the band Marines fairly busy during their deployment, which doesn't bother the band members at all, according to Hunt.

"It's a change of pace," said Hunt. "It's always good to do something different and be a 'real Marine' so to speak. Out here we are able to do different things. We stand TACC security, we have a few people (acting as military
police) and a few people doing badging. It's a good change of pace."

The role as military policemen and badge officials are new to the Marines of the band, according to Talbot.

"The band has come out to Al Asad previous times and been strictly TACC security, but this time we are augmenting (2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion), so we're being incorporated into all the facets of a security battalion," said Talbot. "It's a great way for us to prove and show to the rest of the
Marine Corps that Marine musicians are more than capable of being plugged into different job fields, and that we do an outstanding job."

The band Marines are not all work and no play however. They practice in their off time and played morning colors as a band March 30. They also provide a bugler to play morning and evening colors. "That kind of filled in the gap that I have, the musical gap, from coming out here," said Sgt. William Killian, a tuba player in the band and a member of TACC security. "Plus, we have our horns here in the guard shack, so we're able to keep up on our music."

There are currently 15 band
Marines deployed to Al Asad. They are scheduled to cycle out with a second wave of Marines after six months. While they are here though, the Marines are just glad they get to help with the mission, according to Talbot.

"Most of our time out here is spent doing security," said Talbot. "It's paramount to us, and it's paramount for the deployment. We came here to help win the fight."

(
Marine Cpl. Zachary Dyer is assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) Public Affairs.)

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Nine Servicemembers Killed in Iraq; Previous Casualties Identified

American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2007 – Four U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded in Iraq April 28, while three U.S. soldiers and two Marines died April 27 during Iraq operations, military officials reported, and the Defense Department released the identities of two Marines killed recently in Iraq.

-- Three U.S. soldiers were killed and one soldier suffered injuries when their patrol encountered a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad April 28. -- One U.S. soldier was killed and two were wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad April 28.

-- Three U.S. soldiers and two Marines were killed April 27 while conducting combat operations in al Anbar province. The servicemembers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the identities of two Marines who were killed recently in Iraq.

Marine Cpl. Willie P. Celestine Jr., 21, of Lafayette, La., died April 26 while conducting combat operations in al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Adam E. Loggins, 27, of Athens, Ga., died April 26 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq and Defense Department news releases.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Adam E. Loggins, 27, of Athens, Ala., died April 26 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion,6th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about this Marine can contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (910) 450-7200

A Marine and A Sailor

Robert "Bob" Taubert is thought of by FBI veterans as the finest firearms and tactics instructor to serve in the FBI. He has a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Physical Education and served 12 years as a reconnaissance infantry Marine pulling two combat tours in Vietnam, rising to the rank of Major and serving as company commander.



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Friday, April 27, 2007

Defense Department Takes Custody of al Qaeda Leader

American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2007 – The Defense Department announced today that it has taken a senior al Qaeda operative into custody at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The detainee, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, was transferred to Guantanamo this week from CIA custody and is now under the control of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters. Abd al-Hadi is considered a high-value detainee, like the group of 14 detainees who were transferred to Guantanamo from CIA custody in September, Whitman said.

At the time of his detention, Abd al-Hadi was one of al Qaeda's highest-ranking and most experienced senior operatives, Whitman said. Abd al-Hadi was one of al Qaeda's key paramilitary commanders in Afghanistan from the late 1990s, and from 2002 to 2004, was in charge of cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against coalition forces, he said. In recent years, Abd al-Hadi also directed plots to assassinate perceived opponents of al Qaeda, including Pakistani President Perez Musharaff and a United Nations official.

"What's important here, I think, is that we've taken another bad individual that wants to do harm not only to coalition forces and the United States, but our allies around the world, off the streets, and is no longer able to plan, conduct and coordinate attacks," Whitman said.

Abd al-Hadi was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1961, and is a former member of the Iraqi
military who spent more than 15 years in Afghanistan, according to information released by the Defense Department. Before Sept. 11, 2001, Abd al-Hadi was a member of al Qaeda's ruling Shura council, a now-defunct advisory board to Osama bin Laden, as well as the group's military committee.

Abd al-Hadi associated with
leaders of other extremist groups allied with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taliban, according to Defense Department information. Abd al-Hadi interacted was known and trusted by bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and met with al Qaeda members in Iran.

At the time of his capture, Abd al-Hadi was trying to return to Iraq to manage al Qaeda's affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets, Whitman said. He would not discuss the details of Abd al-Hadi's capture, as it occurred before he was in Defense Department custody.

Like all detainees who arrive at Guantanamo, Abd al-Hadi will undergo a period of in-processing and will undergo a combatant status review tribunal, which will determine his status as an enemy combatant, Whitman said. No date has been set for this tribunal, he said, but as in the cases of the other 14 high-value detainees, the Defense Department will release a redacted transcript after it takes place.

Abd al-Hadi's transfer brings the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to about 385.

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Coalition Forces Detain Seven Suspected Taliban, Kill Five

American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2007 – Coalition forces detained seven suspected Taliban members and killed five armed militants in operations in Afghanistan today,
military officials reported. Coalition forces killed five armed militants in an early morning raid on a compound in the Qalat district of Zabul province today. Five others were subdued and taken into custody.

Credible information led the coalition to the compound suspected of sheltering local Taliban leadership connected to Mullah Dadullah Lang, officials said. The militants are suspected of smuggling weapons and planning attacks on coalition forces and peaceful Afghans in the area, officials added.

During the operation, armed militants attempted to engage the coalition forces with automatic weapons and were quickly killed. The compound was thoroughly searched, and forces discovered numerous AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades in the compound and in adjacent caves.

The weapons were destroyed in place.

"We will continue to work relentlessly to eliminate the source of
terrorism," said Army Maj. Christopher Belcher, coalition spokesman. "The Taliban are on the run."

Elsewhere, two suspects were detained during an operation early this morning by Afghan and coalition forces in the Nangarhar province.

Credible evidence led coalition forces to the compound, suspected of harboring militants responsible for recent improvised explosive device activity in the Bati Kot area, officials said.

"These IED cells are a blight on Afghanistan," Belcher said. "They kill indiscriminately and put peaceful Afghans at risk."

During the operation, one suspect resisted and was subdued by coalition forces. No shots were fired and no one was seriously injured.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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Business Leaders Learn Role of U.S. Navy in Arabian Gulf

By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2007 – The key to bringing stability to the Middle East lies in the success of the military providing security for countries within the region, the deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command told members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference yesterday. Forty-five civilian
leaders from throughout the United States are participating in the Defense Department's whirlwind tour of military installations within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to better grasp the role the men and women of the armed services are playing in the global war on terror.

"Security is a means to an end,"
Navy Rear Adm. Scott H. Swift said as he addressed the participants of the Defense Department's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at the command's headquarters. "The end is certainly the growth of the region - financially, by gaining independence, and by developing religious and governance autonomy so that countries can find their way forward."

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet consist of as many as 25 ships and 15,000 sailors and
Marines in an area covering 2.5 million square miles.

Naval forces in the gulf are continuing to put pressure on
terrorist organizations by expanding maritime security and building deeper relationships with regional partners.

Swift said that although NAVCENT supports the sailors and Marines who are assigned to the command and are working in Iraq and Afghanistan, his organization focuses mainly on the other countries and their sea space in the region.

Extremists in the region who believe that a peaceful co-existence with the West is not possible are constantly challenging regional partners, he said. They believe that violence in defense of Islam is the only solution.

Although some countries within the region have opened their doors to coalition forces and are accepting of other religious ideas, he said, the exploits of minority extremists are presenting challenges in stabilization.

"That has ramifications for global efforts that have been going on throughout the world," he said. "And that has a big impact here."

A few countries are managing to succeed despite the challenges. Swift described the strides in the building of Bahrain's financial district as being "phenomenal," as well as Doha, Qatar, which is seeing the rise of an impressive economic and social environment.

Swift said the expansion and achievement of greater autonomy has led to a stabilization that threatens the ideologies of extremists and is something they will want to counter.

"We're trying to bring stability to the region, but it's on a foundation that hasn't been set in the stability of a nation-state perspective," he said. "However, we want people to understand that it's a global approach."

This approach has also been apparent in the command's work on numerous humanitarian efforts with coalition partners over the past year.

NAVCENT has assisted its partners in humanitarian efforts following the January 2006 earthquake in Pakistan, the Egyptian ferry disaster in February, the July evacuation of the American Embassy in Lebanon, as well as continually working against piracy efforts in the gulf.

Combined Task Force 158 is made up of U.S., Australian and British naval forces working in the Northern Gulf. The task force has provided security for the oil platforms that produce 95 percent of the country's gross national product while training Iraqi sailors to take over the mission.

Italian and U.S. forces within Combined Task Force 152 interact on a daily basis with countries facing the Arabian Gulf and monitor the movements of the Iranian
navy.

Sailors from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Germany make up Combined Task Force 150. This task force covers the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the rest of the Arabian Sea, manning three critical chokepoints and monitoring piracy within the region.

The majority of forces in theater are not American, Swift said, but the backbone of the capability falls to the United States.

"We have significant cooperation with coalition forces throughout the region," he said. "Together we will be able to stay ahead of our enemy."

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Four Troops Killed; Previous Casualties Identified

American Forces Press Service
April 27, 2007 – A coalition servicemember was killed in Afghanistan today and three Marines were killed in Iraq yesterday, military officials reported. The Defense Department also released the identities of 10 soldiers killed recently in Iraq.

One coalition servicemember was killed today when coalition forces made contact with enemy fighters while conducting a combat patrol four kilometers south of Shindand in the Shindand district of Afghanistan's Herat province. Three Marines assigned to Multinational Force West died yesterday while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province.

The servicemembers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the identities of 10 soldiers who were killed recently in Iraq.

Army Spc. Jeremy E. Maresh, 24, of Jim Thorpe, Pa., died April 24 in Baghdad from a non-combat related incident. His death is under investigation.

Nine soldiers from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., died April 23 in Sadah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their location. Killed were

1st Lt. Kevin J. Gaspers, 26, of Hastings, Neb.;
Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Locker Jr., 28, of Wakefield, Neb.;
Staff Sgt. William C. Moore, 27, of Benson, N.C.;
Sgt. Randell T. Marshall, 22, of Fitzgerald, Ga.;
Sgt. Brice A. Pearson, 32, of Phoenix; S
gt. Michael L. Vaughan, 20, of Otis, Ore.;
Spc. Jerry R. King, 19, of Browersville, Ga.;
Spc. Michael J. Rodriguez, 20, of Sanford, N.C.; and
Pfc. Garrett C. Knoll, 23, of Bad Axe, Mich.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force 82 and Defense Department news releases.)

Coalition Forces Detain 13 Suspects; Detainee Dies in Camp Bucca

American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2007 – In operations throughout Iraq today, coalition forces detained 13 suspected
terrorists, military officials reported. Also, a detainee died yesterday at Camp Bucca, Iraq. Nine suspected terrorists are in coalition forces custody today after raids to disrupt al Qaeda in Iraq operations around the country.

-- Near Salman Pak, coalition forces detained a suspected
terrorist known to associate with al Qaeda in Iraq and lead a group responsible for kidnapping Iraqis.

-- Coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists in Mosul who are allegedly involved in a group responsible for making and using car bombs and attacks on the Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition forces.

-- In Baghdad, coalition forces detained an individual suspected of facilitating the movement of foreign fighters and bomb-making materials.

-- Two suspected
terrorists were detained near Ramadi when coalition forces found them with weapons and materials used in making improvised explosive devices.

"Coalition forces are continuing to disrupt the networks that make and use deadly IEDs to harm Iraqis and those who are trying to build a stable Iraq," said
Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

In another operation, coalition forces detained four suspected terrorists today in Sadr City.

The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell
terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training, officials said.

Intelligence reports also indicate the secret cell has ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq.

"Individuals coming into Iraq from other countries for the purpose of endangering Iraqi civilians and disrupting security won't be tolerated," Garver said. "We will continue to work diligently to rid Iraq of foreign
terrorists trying to thwart the development of a stable and peaceful Iraq."

In other news, a security detainee died yesterday at Camp Bucca, Iraq, from injuries suffered during an apparent assault by other detainees.

An investigation is pending to determine the cause of death, a standard procedure for detainees who die while in custody of the Multinational Force Iraq, officials said. The family will receive the remains upon completion of the investigation into his death.

More than 19,000 detainees are held in two MNF-I theater internment facilities in Iraq. In the past year, six detainees have died in MNF-I facilities as a result of detainee-on-detainee violence, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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Army Officer Faces Charges of Aiding Enemy in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 –
U.S. military officials in Iraq have charged an Army officer with aiding the enemy by providing an unmonitored cell phone to detainees, along with other crimes. Lt. Col. William H. Steele has been charged with offenses under four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Officials emphasized that the charges constitute only an accusation of wrongdoing, and that Steele is presumed innocent unless and until he's proven guilty in legal proceedings that follow.

Officials allege that Steele aided the enemy by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees between Oct. 1, 2005, and Oct. 31, 2006, in violation of Article 104 of the UCMJ.

A second charge, under Article 134, alleges that Steele had classified material he was not authorized to possess, and that he willfully kept it and failed to deliver it to the proper authority.

Under Article 133 of the UCMJ, Steele also is charged with conduct unbecoming of an officer for allegedly fraternizing with the daughter of a detainee, and for allegedly providing special privileges to and maintaining an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter.

Officials also are charging Steele with storing classified information in his living space, improperly marking classified information, disobeying an order from the 89th Military
Police Brigade deputy commander, possessing pornographic videos, and being derelict in his duties by failing to fulfill his obligations as an approving authority in the expenditure of field ordering officer funds - all under the UCMJ's Article 92.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Willie P. Celestine Jr., 21, of Lafayette, La., died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about this Marine can contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at (910) 450-7200.

Shared Understanding Provides Key to Defeating Extremism, England Says

By Tim Kilbride
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Dialogue and understanding among members of diverse faiths are vital to overcoming religious extremism, the Pentagon's second-in-command said here yesterday. Speaking with Muslim community
leaders and military servicemembers, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England stressed that a regular exchange of views among Americans of all backgrounds is necessary to overcome "a huge amount of misunderstanding" in the United States regarding the Muslim faith and U.S. intentions abroad.

"People tend to relate Muslim communities with Iraq and Afghanistan," England said. "Of course, that's not the case. These are great (Muslim) Americans and Canadians and people around the world who are people of great faith just as all other people of great faith."

The secretary addressed his comments to Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America. The umbrella group describes itself as the largest Muslim organization in North America.

The ISNA provides "a unifying platform for the diversity of Muslims in Canada and the United States," Mattson explained. "We try to bring in Muslims from all different backgrounds to come together to discuss our common concerns, to learn about each other and to grow as a community."

Mattson described her role as "a profound responsibility to be able to, on the one hand, serve my community - the Muslim community - and then serve society at large, because we're a part of American society; we're part of the greater interfaith community."

The diversity she spoke of was reflected in the backgrounds of the secretary's guests. In a reception room overlooking Arlington National Cemetery, England told the small group of Muslim, Catholic and Jewish military chaplains, ISNA representatives, Muslim servicemembers and his own staff how important he deems the military's relationship with the Muslim community.

"We need to understand that almost all people of the Muslim faith, except for the extremists, are valuable members of our society and societies around the world," England said. "It's important for people to understand that perspective so that together we can defeat extremism. I think that's what's very important about this relationship."

The secretary characterized the United States as a successful example of people from different religions and backgrounds coexisting in peace. He said it is the responsibility of leaders across the board to ensure that idea is understood first within the United States, and then demonstrated around the globe.

"My view is that is a hugely important message for the world, because in a lot of places in the world people tend to divide based on their backgrounds, their religions, their experiences," England said. "That's not the case in the United States. We use that as a unifying force, and that is a strong message to the world."

Recognizing that deployed U.S. forces often serve as the main face of the United States abroad, the
Marines have established an outreach and recruiting program for Muslim communities within the United States. The program is a mechanism for increasing the diversity of the force in order to better display the backgrounds and skills of the U.S. population to foreign audiences.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, national director of the Marine Corps' Middle East Cultural Outreach Program, attended the meeting with England as one of the most active proponents of diversity in the force. A member of Baadani's staff said their program worked with Marine recruiters to teach them sensitivity to Muslim issues and culture in an effort to build bridges between the military and U.S. Muslim communities.

Mattson called such outreach efforts by the
military and groups like her own encouraging signs of progress.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but there's still many hopeful signs for positive engagement," she said.

"American Muslims also want to contribute, and certainly in the last few years since the terrible tragedy of Sept. 11, Muslim Americans have been serving in greater numbers in government out of that sense of responsibility to bring in whatever resources our community can have to secure the nation and the community for everyone," Mattson said.

She rejected those who interpret Islam as a "way to justify
terrorism and extremism," calling the majority of Muslims "victims" of the extremist minority.

"We are more interested than anyone in trying to present an accurate and positive image of Islam and practice of Islam," Mattson said. "So we're the best partners to do that."

England welcomed the call for further cooperation.

"Take the time to get in touch with us," the secretary encouraged Muslims who feel misunderstood or frustrated by U.S. policies and actions. "I'd like to foster the relationship. I think it's important for the nation."

(Tim Kilbride is assigned to New Media, American Forces Information Service.)

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'Ardent Sentry' Tests U.S., Canadian Crisis Response Capabilities

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Thousands of active-duty and National Guard servicemembers will take part in a two-week, Defense Department-sponsored nationwide emergency preparedness and response exercise that kicks off April 30, a senior department official said here yesterday. A major focus of Operation Ardent Sentry - Northern Edge 2007 will be to test crisis-response coordination between federally controlled
military forces and National Guard units that come under the command of state governors, Peter F. Verga, acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service at the Pentagon.

The exercise, directed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is slated to end May 18. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and also includes participation by the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian
armed forces, according to NORTHCOM documents.

This year's Ardent Sentry-Northern Edge exercise, the biggest yet, will feature a nuclear-weapon explosion scenario that will involve deployment of more than 2,000 active-duty troops and almost 1,000 Guard members to Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Area in Indiana, Verga said. The National Guard's series of training events known as Vigilant Guard, he noted, will be incorporated as part of the overall Ardent Sentry exercise.

The Indiana portion of the exercise, he said, will test emergency-response capabilities involving the fictitious detonation of a 10-kiloton nuclear device in an urban area.

"National Guard soldiers ... will always be the first
military forces to respond to an emergency because of their proximity, will then be reinforced by the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives consequence-management response force in the active-duty force, " Verga explained.

The Indiana sites provide "a very realistic environment that'll allow the soldiers to operate in an urban environment and see how they'll have to respond to that kind of emergency," Verga said.

There are a total of 15 exercise planning scenarios, Verga said. Another scenario held off the Alaskan coast, he noted, will feature a maritime situation.

"There will be a ship with a 'suspicious cargo' that's going to need to be intercepted," Verga said. The Canadian
navy, he added, will participate in that scenario and some other simulated incidents during the two-week-long exercise.

An air-defense exercise will feature Canadian
military participation as well, Verga said. Canada's armed forces partner with NORAD in the defense of North America.

Additionally, the exercise features a hurricane scenario that will be staged in the northeastern United States, Verga said. Guardsmen from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York will participate in this part of the exercise, he said, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fighting the
global war against terrorism is the U.S. military's main mission, but being ready to respond to potential homeland contingencies also is important, Verga said.

"We also have to be prepared, at all times, to respond to an emergency at home," he said.

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Leaders Plan to Evaluate Iraq Security Plan, Provide Report in September

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Senior U.S.
leaders on the ground in Iraq plan to evaluate the success of the new security plan and provide an assessment of the situation to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by early September, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said here today. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that he and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, will provide the assessment, which will measure progress in the areas of security, economics, governance and rule of law.

September will be a good time for the assessment, because the additional U.S. forces that are being deployed to Iraq will have been on the ground for several months, more Iraqi security forces will be trained and equipped, and the Iraqi government will have had time to make more progress, Petraeus said.

"We'll have seen whether in fact our efforts in these areas have helped produce the kind of progress that they're designed, in fact, to produce and to see if there is an exploitation of the opportunity that we believe our soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and
police will have provided to the Iraqi governmental leaders to come to grips, again, with some of these really tough legislative issues," he said.

In the security arena, the leaders will be looking at how successful U.S. and Iraqi forces have been at securing the Iraqi population, which is essential to enable political progress, and the progress of the Iraqi security forces, Petraeus said. In the economic arena, they will evaluate how the Iraqi government is spending its money, both nationally and provincially, and the progress of private banking in the country.

In the area of governance, Petraeus said he and Crocker will be looking for progress on key legislation and the development of governmental and ministerial capacity. Under rule of law, they will focus on the progress of Iraq's
criminal justice and detention systems, which have posed big challenges for the government, he said.

Progress is being made in Iraq, but it is often overshadowed by sensational attacks, such as car bombs, that inflict mass casualties, Petraeus said. U.S. and Iraqi forces are working to counter these attacks, but it is a daunting task and realistically, the attacks will continue for some time, he said.

"In an environment where to prevent those (attacks), you know, the Iraqi and coalition forces have to protect everything and (the
terrorists) only have to attack one thing, some of that is going to happen," Petraeus said.

Progress in Iraq is often very difficult to demonstrate, because many times it involves the lack of violence, and it's only newsworthy if that calm lasts for a long period of time, Petraeus said. However, he said, while the sensational attacks grab headlines, levels of sectarian violence are going down in Baghdad, businesses are reopening, and people are slowly returning to normal lives.

Petraeus described a recent evening helicopter ride over Baghdad after a day in which there was a car bomb attack. Three big amusement parks were operational, restaurants in some parts of the city were booming, lots of markets were open, people were on the street, and soccer games were going on.

"All of this is actually so foreign, I think, in the mind of most people who see the news and of course do see that day's explosion or something like that," he said. "And actually, there is a city of 7 million in which life goes on, and again, citizens are determined to carry on with their life."

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Petraeus: Interrogations Reveal Iranian Influence in Iraq

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Through interrogations of key detainees in the past month, the United States has learned a great deal about Iranian involvement in
terrorist activities in Iraq, specifically the financing and training of insurgent groups, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said here today. The interrogation of leaders and members of the Qazali terror network who have been in detention for more than a month revealed that Iran provided the network substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as arms and ammunition, and in some cases advice and even a degree of direction, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said in a Pentagon news conference.

When these
terrorists were captured, coalition forces discovered a number of documents describing attacks on U.S. forces, including a 22-page memorandum that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the Jan. 20 attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, Iraq, that killed five U.S. soldiers, Petraeus said.

"Our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever it is that is financing them," he said. "And there's no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds force of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps."

The U.S. has learned more about Iranian involvement in Iraq through the detention of one of the heads of the Sheibani network, which brings explosively formed projectiles into Iraq from Iran, Petraeus said. This leader's brother was in Iraq, and was the conduit who received munitions from Iraq and distributed them among the extremist elements.

"Those munitions, as you know, have been particularly lethal against some of our armored vehicles and responsible for some of the casualties, the more tragic casualties, in attacks on our vehicles," Petraeus said.

The coalition has not found a link between Iran and the spectacular car bomb attacks in Iraq, Petraeus said, as many of these attacks are conducted by foreign fighters coming into the country through Syria. Also, the U.S. has no evidence that indicates how high in the Iranian government the knowledge of this involvement goes, he said.

Petraeus called Iran's activities "exceedingly unhelpful" as Iraqi
leaders and security forces battle al Qaeda, extremist militias, sectarian violence, and limited political capacity to rebuild society. The situation in Iraq is exceedingly complex and challenging, he said, and while there have been successes under the new security plan, perseverance will be needed for the coming months.

"Success will take continued commitment, perseverance and sacrifice, all to make possible an opportunity for the all-important Iraqi political actions that are the key to long-term solutions to Iraq's many problems," Petraeus said. "Because we are operating in new areas and challenging elements in those areas, this effort may get harder before it gets easier."

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Progress Continues in Iraq Despite Sensational Attacks, Petraeus Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Sensational car bomb attacks staged by al Qaeda in Iraq may grab headlines, but coalition and Iraqi forces are making real progress on the ground and steadily achieving significant successes, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq told reporters here today. "The situation is, in short, exceedingly challenging, though ... there has been progress in several areas in recent months despite the sensational attacks by al Qaeda, which have, of course, been significant blows to our effort and which cause psychological damage that is typically even greater than their physical damage,"
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said at a Pentagon news conference.

The level of horrific attacks like the one that killed nine U.S. soldiers at a patrol base in Diyala province April 23 is still too high, Petraeus said, and U.S. and Iraqi forces are focusing heavily on preventing them. However, the beginning stages of the new Iraqi security plan are encouraging as the coalition makes progress against al Qaeda in Iraq and extremist militias, and helps the Iraqis improve governance, he said.

Baghdad is still the main effort in the new security plan, Petraeus said, and the increased presence of U.S. and Iraqi forces has helped drive down the level of sectarian violence there to two-thirds what it was in January. The effect of these forces, which are now stationed at joint security stations and combat outposts throughout the city, can especially be seen in areas that previously did not have a security force presence, he said.

"Beyond this, we are seeing a revival of markets, renewed commerce, the return of some displaced families and the slow resumption of services, though I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and I again note that we are really just getting started with the new effort," he added.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have achieved some important successes against al Qaeda in Iraq in the past two months, Petraeus said. Forces have killed the security emir of eastern Anbar province, detained a number of key network
leaders, discovered how various elements of al Qaeda operate, taken apart a car bomb network that had killed 650 citizens of Baghdad, and destroyed several significant car bomb factories.

Al Qaeda "remains a formidable foe with considerable resilience and a capability to produce horrific attacks," but is increasingly alienating Iraqis with its attacks methods and ideologies, he said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have also achieved successes against extremist militias in Iraq, Petraeus said, and notably, some Sunni insurgent groups are beginning to join other Sunni tribes in turning against al Qaeda.

"We will continue to engage with Sunni tribal sheikhs and former insurgent
leaders to support the newfound opposition of some to al Qaeda, ensuring that their fighters join legitimate Iraqi security force elements to become part of the fight against extremists, just as we reach out to moderate members of all sects and ethnic groups to try to drive a wedge between the irreconcilables and the reconcilables, and help the latter become part of the solution instead of part of the problem," he said.

While progress on some key laws has been slow, the Iraqi government has made some significant progress in passing important laws, such as the budget law and base hydrocarbon law, Petraues noted. To encourage further progress, the coalition and the U.S. embassy are doubling the number of provincial reconstruction teams, establishing a law and order task force, developing an energy fusion cell, and increasing emphasis on ministerial mentorship, he said.

"I believe Prime Minister (Nouri al-)Maliki and many other Iraqi leaders are committed to achieving more in this area in the months ahead," Petraeus said.

The successes U.S. and Iraqi forces have achieved have not come without sacrifice, Petraeus noted. The increased presence of troops in the cities and their activities in areas that were previously sanctuaries for extremists have led to increases in casualties, he said. He warned that the situation "may get harder before it gets easier," and success will ultimately depend on Iraqi actions.

"The situation in Iraq is, in sum, exceedingly complex and very tough," he said. "Success will take continued commitment, perseverance and sacrifice, all to make possible an opportunity for the all-important Iraqi political actions that are the key to long-term solutions to Iraq's many problems."

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Coalition Forces Kill Seven Terrorists, Disrupt Car-Bomb Cell

American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Coalition forces in Iraq today killed seven
terrorists and disrupted a vehicle-bomb network, military officials reported. In Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, four armed terrorists engaged coalition forces with small-arms fire, and the coalition troops exercised what officials called "proper self-defense measures," killing one attacker.

A vehicle approached the coalition forces during the engagement, which occurred during curfew hours, when vehicle movement is not allowed. Coalition forces disabled the vehicle, which caught fire. Two occupants ran into a nearby building.

Four more armed
terrorists entered the area and hid behind a stationary vehicle while they engaged coalition forces with small-arms fire. Coalition forces returned fire with automatic weapons, killing two terrorists and destroying the vehicle.

"We will continue to target
terrorists wherever they operate, to diminish their ability to conduct operations against the people of Iraq and security forces," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Coalition forces killed four more terrorists west of Taji, where intelligence reports indicated people with links to al Qaeda in Iraq's vehicle-bomb networks were present.
Ground forces were searching buildings at the targeted location when they began receiving heavy small-arms fire from one of the buildings.

The coalition forces returned fire and engaged the armed terrorists, but were unable to subdue them. Officials said the coalition forces used appropriate escalation of force to react to the threat and called for close air support. Four armed terrorists were killed in the ensuing CAS strike.

During a search of the objective, coalition forces found multiple weapons and explosive materials and destroyed them on site.

Officials said they believe two women and two children were also killed during the strike, and noted that al Qaeda in Iraq continues to place women and children in harm's way with their
terrorist activities.

"Unfortunately al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to use women and children in their illegal activities," Garver said. "Al Qaeda continues to demonstrate they do not care about the future of Iraq, and we will continue to target all
terrorists in Iraq regardless of their titles or positions within the community."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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Iraqi Police Becoming 'Very Capable' at Law Enforcement, Official Says

By Tim Kilbride
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 26, 2007 – Iraq's growing
police force is technically competent and functioning as it should within the country's legal system, a top U.S. police trainer said yesterday. The operational problems they have experienced are primarily the result of an unusually tumultuous security situation in Baghdad and elsewhere, said Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, deputy commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team and the senior military police officer in theater.

"I believe the Iraqi
police are getting very capable in handling the law enforcement type mission and traffic mission. The problem you have is ... that there's a lot of terrorists and insurgents who want to see them fail," Phillips said, speaking to online journalists from Baghdad.

The Iraqi
army, Phillips explained, is trained to contend with terrorism.

"When you compare the Iraqi army, who are over here fighting in an insurgency and against terrorists, we are training the
police to perform law enforcement," he said. "The training we give them - although they get tactical training - is primarily focused on being a police officer."

Under normal conditions, Phillips said, the police would be engaged in "investigating crime and traffic patrols."

In these capacities, the general said, the
police are performing dramatically better now than even two years ago, when Phillips was last deployed to Iraq. He cited examples of traffic cops waving his convoy through traffic circles, and patrol officers walking their beat in a Baghdad neighborhood while local children played nearby.

With nearly 170,000 regular
police on the country's rosters, Phillips noted that in many areas of the country the Iraqi security forces operate virtually independently of U.S. and international guidance.

"Approximately 75 percent of the country gets very minimal coalition force presence," he said. Those areas are "under the control of the Iraqi
police and the Iraqi army, and they're out there doing what you'd expect them to do."

It is in Baghdad and other particularly restive areas, Phillips explained, that though "it is truly Iraqis in the lead now," the coalition continues to provide support.

And in areas such as violence-prone Anbar province, Phillips said, tribal sheikhs are now encouraging their relatives and affiliates to create local units to stand up to terrorist and insurgent activity - in effect, a "community watch."

Such forces, he said, are being created under the umbrella of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and will function as an extension of the standard
police force.

An official government sanction is crucial to the success of these initiatives and will be forthcoming, Phillips said, though he noted there are worries among the sheikhs as to where and how their associates could be used.

"They want to come into the system, be sanctioned as police; they want to be trained as police," Phillips said. "Their concern is if they're trained will they be sent out of that area and then have to work in an area - they're predominantly Sunni - would they have to work in a predominantly Shiia area? That's where they object."

The Iraqi
leadership, with coalition assistance, is trying to work out the command and control relationships for these organizations, Phillips said.

The general admitted the question of sectarian loyalty remains an issue throughout the force, but said its effect is less severe than commonly believed.

The
police, Phillips explained, are trained at academies close to their homes and return to those homes at the completion of their courses, as opposed to Iraqi army soldiers, who train as a unit and then deploy to different locations.

For the graduating policeman, he said, "you go back to the same community you were in, ... and you're policing in the neighborhood where your family is, with the same influences you had, with people who are like you."

Sectarian bias will naturally apply in these cases, Phillips said.

"When you look, is one
police force in this city predominantly Sunni and one in another city predominantly Shiia? Yes, it's going to be natural that way. But we also have mixed forces in the towns that are mixed."

Baghdad is a prime example of a mixed-force town, Phillips said, and working out the dynamics there among diverse populations will remain a challenge.

Useful progress is being made in screening out known risks from the
police recruiting pool, however, Phillips said. He noted an Iraqi-operated "Automated Fingerprint Identification System" and other biometric information are being used to check potential recruits against a database of known or suspected criminals.

"I think the vetting process is not perfect, but it's catching quite a few who you would not want to be one of your community cops on the corner," Phillips said.

Addressing another common criticism of the Iraqi force, the general said overcrowding in
police detention facilities does still occur, but is the product of temporary delays in legal processing rather than a flawed system.

"Yes, there's overcrowding," Phillips said, "And the reason is because of the number of investigative judges." The number of judges is not equal to the backlog of
criminal cases, he said.

To compensate, Phillips noted, in addition to training more judges, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander, is expediting work on a "Rule of Law" complex in Baghdad that will house investigative judges, investigators, trial judges, police and detention facilities all in one compound. The proximity of all the key players in the Iraqi
criminal justice system should streamline the legal process and help keep detention centers operating at normal levels, he explained.

"If there's a delay there, that's where you start seeing crowding in the jails," Phillips said. "The system in place as templated is a pretty good system; we just have to get the number of judges, the facilities and all of that, stood up."

Capacity issues aside, Phillips noted, the police are performing admirably in their assigned roles in a situation that is grossly outside their traditional mandate.

Until that security situation stabilizes, Phillips noted, U.S. forces will continue to support the police in their mission.

"If they're out there doing a simple operation and all of a sudden a terrorist starts shooting at them, of course they do not have the firepower to return - they're
police officers - but they contact us and we respond," he said.

Still, despite the underlying security challenge, Phillips said, there is reason for optimism regarding the
police's long-term effectiveness.

"If you took the equation of the terrorists and the insurgents out of the mix," he said, "You have a nationally trained police force that, I think, would be able to do quite well."

(Tim Kilbride is assigned to New Media, American Forces Information Service.)

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Special Operations Command Observes 20th Anniversary Amid Growth

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 25, 2007 – As it observes its 20th anniversary this week, U.S. Special Operations Command continues to face more demand for its forces than it can accommodate -- a challenge the command's deputy commander reported yesterday won't abate even with more special operators in the pipeline. SOCOM is slated to grow by about 6,300 members in fiscal 2008, boosting its strength to 54,000
military and civilian positions, Navy Vice Adm. Eric T. Olson told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

This growth, nearly all within the reserve components, includes nearly 1,900 soldiers to make up an
Army Special Forces battalion, three Ranger companies, and nearly 800 additional civil affairs, psychological operations and support troops. Naval Special Warfare will add about 400 members, and Air Force Special Operations Command will grow a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle squadron and establish a distributed common-ground system.

In addition, the new
Marine Corps Special Operations Component established in 2006 will increase from its current 1,500 members by nearly 550, Olson reported.

This growth rate won't reduce the high stress on the current force or its current presence in Afghanistan or Iraq, he said. Rather, it will enable SOCOM to expand its presence in parts of the world where it's currently underrepresented.

Olson urged the senators to support the $6.2 billion fiscal 2008 budget request that boosts retention initiatives for senior enlisted operators and ensures current and incoming special operators have the equipment they need to do their jobs. "It's important to sustain a balanced force as we grow, so we must retain our experienced people as we train new accessions," he said.

The budget request also includes more aircraft, prepositioned ship- and land-based equipment, and precision-guided munitions. It also will provide more Special Operations Force Warrior Systems, with body armor, helmets, weapons, ammunition, night-vision optics, individual- and squad-level radios, and other items, which Olson said "optimize success while minimizing casualties."

As the command monitors the challenges of a growing force and aging equipment, it's continuing to demonstrate its capabilities confronting
terrorism and helping nations around the world bolster their own defenses against terrorist intentions, he said.

Created by Congress to organize, train and equip special operations forces, SOCOM has paid big security dividends over the past two decades, but particularly during recent years. As its members support war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're also facing off against emerging
terrorism in the Philippines, Colombia and other parts of the world through training and assistance programs, he said.

In operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, special operators conduct direct-action missions daily and capture or kill terrorists and violent insurgents nightly, Olson told the Senate committee.

But equally important, he said, are the command's indirect actions worldwide that are crucial to building a global environment that shuns
terrorism and embraces stability and security.

"We know that we cannot kill or talk our way to victory," he said. "Our actions must demonstrate our values and be convincing locally, regionally and, ultimately, globally."

That makes it essential that U.S. forces develop meaningful relationships with coalition partners that provide a stepping stone toward building their capabilities and encouraging them to resolve threats within their own borders, he said.

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