Irak — Investment in Iraq Creates Opportunities, General Says

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2010 — U.S. invest­ment and sac­ri­fice in Iraq has paid off with ful­ly capa­ble Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces and a par­a­digm shift toward law and order that will allow for a long-term rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries, the U.S. Forces Iraq deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al for advis­ing and train­ing Iraqi forces said today

Investment in Iraq Creates Opportunities
Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Bar­bero, the U.S. Forces Iraq deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al respon­si­ble for the train­ing of Iraq’s armed forces and police, holds a press brief­ing at the Pen­ta­gon, June 18, 2010. Bar­bero said he is con­fi­dent that Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces will be ready to assume the full bur­den of pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty in Iraq when the Unit­ed States ceas­es com­bat oper­a­tions there at the end of August.
DoD pho­to by R.D. Ward
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“The invest­ment and sac­ri­fice we’ve made is cre­at­ing real oppor­tu­ni­ties for a more sta­ble and secure Iraq, and for a long-term rela­tion­ship” with the Unit­ed States, Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Bar­bero told reporters dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon brief­ing.

Iraq secu­ri­ty forces have made “dra­mat­ic” improve­ments, Bar­bero said, with insur­gent attacks down 50 per­cent since Iraqi forces took the lead in secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions a year ago this month. Vio­lence is down 90 per­cent since the height of the U.S. troop surge there, he said.

Still, secu­ri­ty remains a con­cern, Bar­bero said, not­ing there were 11 attacks across Iraq yes­ter­day, and two mem­bers of Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces were killed.

But Iraq is in much bet­ter shape to deal with the attacks, the gen­er­al said. The Iraqi army, navy and air force are the fastest-grow­ing forces in the world, he said, and now com­prise 248,000 ser­vice­mem­bers, includ­ing a grow­ing non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer corps. And, Iraqis now lead much of their own train­ing, he added.

The Iraqi mil­i­tary is increas­ing­ly bet­ter-equipped, Bar­bero said. The first of 140 M1 tanks have begun arriv­ing, and 65 tank crews have been trained. Iraq’s air force has more than 100 air­craft and is grow­ing toward 10,000 air­men, pro­vid­ing essen­tial air­lift and bat­tle­field mobil­i­ty. The navy has more than 50 ves­sels, hav­ing grown by 50 per­cent in the past year. The first of 15 new, U.S.-built patrol boats have begun arriv­ing, and 50 Iraqi sailors are train­ing in Louisiana to man the boats, he said.

The Iraqi army, with 238,000 sol­diers, is well-trained in coun­terin­sur­gency oper­a­tions and now is the best in the region as it becomes increas­ing­ly pro­fi­cient in con­ven­tion­al war­fare, Bar­bero said.

Some of the biggest improve­ments, the gen­er­al said, are with the Iraqi nation­al police, a force that now has 410,000 offi­cers at the cen­ter of Iraq’s par­a­digm shift toward law and order that is unique to the region. The shift includes requir­ing war­rants for search­es and arrests, bas­ing con­vic­tions on sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence rather than con­fes­sions, and main­tain­ing a mul­ti­eth­nic police force.

“In tac­ti­cal terms, the last 100 meters to seiz­ing an objec­tive is the most crit­i­cal, and that is where we are now,” Bar­bero said.

While much hard work remains, Bar­bero said his command’s efforts “are on track to achieve our mis­sion.”

“Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces will be ready on 1 Sep­tem­ber to take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for Iraq secu­ri­ty,” the gen­er­al said. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has set a dead­line for all U.S. com­bat forces to be out of Iraq by Aug. 31.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)