By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 4, 2008 - The enemy's use of improvised explosive devices continues to decline in northern Iraq's Salahuddin province, a senior U.S. officer posted there said today. Consequently, "the situation here continues to improve from a security standpoint," Army Col. Scott McBride, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite-carried news conference.
McBride's unit is based in Tikrit, northwest of Baghdad in Salahuddin province. The 4,000-member brigade is a component of Multinational Division North, and it has been in Iraq for about a year.
The enemy is still active in Salahuddin province, McBride said. However, he added, security indicators in the province are "significantly better" than they were at the first of the year.
For example, McBride said, the "amount and volume of improvised explosive devices continues to decline" in Salahuddin province.
Enemy use of IEDs, McBride explained, restricts residents' use of roads, which, in turn, negatively affects commerce. However, IED attacks along Main Supply Road Tampa, a key highway that runs through Baghdad, across Salahuddin province and on to Mosul, have declined dramatically, the colonel said.
Today, only one to two IED attacks occur along that highway each day, McBride said, compared to the 10 to 11 daily attacks experienced a year ago. And the IED attacks that do occur "are largely ineffective," McBride pointed out. "And, for that reason, the population is able to travel those roadways." McBride said none of his soldiers traveling on the highway has been seriously injured by an IED attack.
The enemy employs IEDs as a tactic to cause the closure of local roads, McBride noted. However, he said, anti-IED efforts have compelled the enemy to reduce use of the roadside bombs.
"The people believe they are safe on those highways," McBride said.
Roadside-bomb attacks sporadically occur in his area of operations, McBride said, but the use of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles helps to protect soldiers.
Iraqi soldiers, police and "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group members provide most of the security for major and auxiliary roadways in Salahuddin province, McBride pointed out.
"What the people see out there is the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police and the Sons of Iraq securing those roadways," McBride said, noting that U.S. forces can provide intelligence and reconnaissance assets for road-security missions.