Monday, July 02, 2007

Leaders meet to discuss south Baghdad security

Maj. Web Wright
2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division (LI) PAO

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Leaders from the local government, Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, National Police and coalition forces met to discuss security policies and strategy at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq June 16,
Brig. Gen. Ali Jassem al Frejee, commander of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y. chaired the meeting which covered a detailed assessment of combined operations conducted in the last month, current disposition of forces throughout south Baghdad and recruiting strategies to increase the number of Iraqi police officers in the area.
The invitees included the Mahmudiayh District Iraqi Police chief, Brig. Gen. Abed Mohamed al Abadi, Mr. Mouyed Fathil al Ameri, mayor of Mahudiyah and the commanders of each of the battalions of the 4/6 IA and 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI).
Kershaw began the meeting with remarks acknowledging the rise in suicide attacks with in the area of operations.
“We’ve seen two suicide vests, a truck borne improvised explosive devise totaling over 14,000 lbs. of explosives and a suicide bombing that destroyed the checkpoint 20 bridge. The trends indicate changes in al Qaeda tactics and are increasingly targeting U.S. and Iraqi security forces.
He stated that this meeting was important to bring the major security parties together to review the changing dynamics and to understand the responsibilities of each of the forces.
Ali spoke initially regarding the situation around the bridge bombed on June 10, after which 4/6 IA was charged with security.
Ali stated that this area had been known as a place where kidnapping was common, but stated that since the 4th Brigade took over, no kidnappings have taken place.
He also stated that he believed that the bombing was in retaliation to the security gains made by 4/6 IA.
“We have been mounting pressure on the enemy for some time,” he said. “They had to cut the road.”
Ali continued to highlight successes of his other battalions.
“First Battalion conducted a company sized operation in Lutifiyah, Iraq last week that resulted in the killing of several terrorists as well as capturing five in the middle of a meeting,” said Ali. “One we believe to be the propaganda chief of the area.”
Ali’s last assessment covered the ongoing security operation to assist the Ministry of Oil repair the pipelines damaged near Lutifiyah.
Since being charged with the security operation by the Ministry of Defense, Ali reported that several engagements with terrorists in the area had taken place, resulting in the killing of eight terrorists and the confiscation of several weapons to include a Dragonov sniper rifle.
He continued, proudly recounting the use of coalition rotary air power by the Iraqi Army force.
“In my three and a half years of working with the coalition, this is the first time that the IA has called the shots in using the attack aircraft,” he said. “The U.S. forces gave us a lot of help through air support to defeat the enemy near the pipeline.”
“By 6 p.m. we controlled the area and were able to bring in the repair crews. The repairs will continue until they are complete,” said Ali.
The topic of discussion then moved on to the plan to increase recruitment of Iraqi Police officers in the area.
Abed began his portion of the meeting by stating that he was encouraged by the partnership between the IA and the IPs south of Baghdad.
“We have worked very hard to remove distractions and have seen a lot of cooperation between the Army and the police,” he said. “And God willing it will continue.”
He briefly ran through his plan to begin with a recruiting drive in Lutifiyah and detailed the joint effort to screen the candidates’ qualifications.
“The minimum qualifications are that these candidates have no security issues. They will have no ties to extremist political or religious groups.”
“They may not be currently employed by any other security force, for example, an IA jundi will not be able to join the police force is he is currently on the payroll.
“Finally, he must be 20 to 35 years old, have a ninth grade education and be willing to move and serve at the needs of the government.”
“We will work with the IA and the mayor to question these candidates and look into their backgrounds,” he stated. “I have spoken with Mayor Mouyed; we will review the list and remove the names for those we deem not appropriate.”
Mouyed then took the opportunity to speak about the future of Iraq.
“Reconciliation is the only chance for the future,” he stated. We must put Iraq first before individual needs.”
“I am afraid though, that there is no common vision. There are too many individual opinions.”
“Reconciliation will not happen from one person, locally or from outside. It involves far more involvement from everyone.”
Kershaw then concluded the meeting with his comments.
“We stand ready to provide assistance as required. We have seen vast improvements.”
He added that he believed that the IP recruiting drive in Lutifiyah was a good move to continue improving security.
“This is a good move to get the Iraqi Police manning the checkpoints in the area to allow the Iraqi Army to get back to the job of fighting the terrorists in the countryside.”

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