General Touts Growth in Iraqi-Run Operations

BAGHDAD, May 18, 2006 - More than 80 percent of operations in Iraq
currently are being performed either solely by Iraqi security forces or in
concert with coalition troops, officials here said today.

In 446 operations during the week ending May 12, Iraqi and coalition
forces cooperated in 223, new coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. William
Caldwell said in his first press briefing. Iraqi army or police forces
handled almost a third -- or 139 operations -- on their own. Coalition
forces performed 84 operations -- 19 percent -- alone during the week.

Even Iraqi forces operating alone still need coalition help in
logistics, transportation, close-air support, and medical assistance, said
Caldwell, Multinational Force Iraq's deputy chief of staff for strategic
effects.

"We know we have challenges still with logistics and resupply and the
like for Iraqi security forces," he said. "But we do have forces that
are organized, that are trained, that are able to go out there and
operate independently."


Caldwell replaced Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch in the job.

The general said he was encouraged by the growing use of the Baghdad
tip line, adding that almost 70 percent of the tips received from Iraqis
are "effective."


He pointed to a recent operation in Baghdad as an example of how Iraqi
forces are maturing. During the operation, U.S. and Iraqi troops
responded when three men in a van fired on them. The van fled to the Abu
Abbas mosque in southern Baghdad, where the men jumped out of the van and
ran onto the mosque compound.

American troops from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain
Division, and Iraqi troops from the 6th Division searched the van and found
it loaded with weapons. "So clearly, these are anti-coalition personnel
who ran into the compound," Caldwell said.

The Iraqi forces gained permission from the imam to enter the mosque
compound, escorted by local officials. They found guns, grenades,
rocket-propelled grenades and RPG launchers, mines, TNT, artillery rounds,
bombs, and other ordnance used for making improvised explosive devices,
and 11 military-age men in the compound. The forces detained nine of the
men.

"The good thing about this operation was they pursued a van; they
didn't just go shooting up the neighborhood, went into the van and found
something in it, which gave them probable cause to continue searching.
They dealt with local officials; they didn't just go bursting into the
mosque area. They were escorted there by somebody, and they treated the
place with dignity and respect, and they accomplished the mission,"
Caldwell said of the Iraqi forces involved.


In another operation in southwestern Baghdad, Iraqi police captured Abu
Jebril, leader of an al Qaeda in Iraq cell and an expert in car bombs.
Iraqi police also captured two of the man's associates and confiscated
about 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate and black powder.

The important thing in both these operations, Caldwell said, is that
Iraqi forces took the lead. "You'd expect that to happen," he said. "And
it is."

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