By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 10, 2008 - The Iraqi navy teams with coalition forces in conducting important maritime security missions, a senior U.S. military officer posted in Iraq said today. "The Iraqi navy and coalition naval forces partner in critically important maritime missions which includes maintaining security and stability in Iraq's territorial waters, monitoring maritime traffic, protecting commercial shipping into and out of Iraq's ports and protecting Iraq's coastline and infrastructure from any potential threats," U.S. navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll told reporters during a Baghdad briefing.
An important element of joint coalition and Iraqi maritime security operations is protecting Iraq's major oil terminals, said Driscoll, deputy chief of Multinational Force Iraq's strategic communication division.
"Iraq's two main offshore oil terminals are located in Iraqi territorial waters out at sea about 19 miles from the Iraqi coast," Driscoll said.
Those offshore facilities are vital to Iraq's oil export business that provides more than 90 percent of the country's national revenue, he explained. The oil-generated money is used by the Iraqi government for reconstruction and economic development projects.
Therefore, great care is taken to protect those oil facilities, Driscoll said. The Iraqi navy is part of Coalition Task Force 158, which ensures maritime security in the northern Gulf region.
Over the last several years, Iraqi Adm. Mohammed Jawad has led his country's navy in assuming more and more responsibility for maritime security. "It is a mission that Admiral Jawad and his sailors and Marines take very seriously and are executing with great professionalism," Driscoll said.
Driscoll praised Jawad's "great ability to lead and his professionalism in building the capacity of the Iraqi navy that is now protecting Iraqi's vital interests."
"Thanks to Admiral Jawad and the bravery and dedication of Iraq's sailors and Marine