Friday, July 20, 2007

al Qaeda Loses Its Grip

No, of course there is no al Qaeda presence in Iraq...

Being thanked by Iraqis:

Late last week while I was visiting Diyala province, a citizen in Baqubah relayed to Colonel Townsend, the Stryker Brigade commander there, “You have liberated us from the hold of al Qaeda.” Baqubah joins a growing list of cities like al Qaim, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi, Habbaniya, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and Arab Jabour area that have been liberated from al Qaeda control over the past seven months.

Real Progress:
My observations and the indicators include that the Iraqi people are clearly rejecting al Qaeda and assisting coalition forces and Iraqi force in liberating their towns and villages, large numbers of Sunni tribesmen volunteering for the police as well as the army, a decrease in sectarian violence and displacement of individuals, willingness of armed groups to establish and observe cease-fires with coalition forces and Iraqi security forces.

Some displaced families are returning to their homes; growing confidence and professionalism of the Iraqi army; decreased effectiveness of militias operating in and around Baghdad; an increased sense of security by residents in several different locations inside of Baghdad, in Baqubah, Al Anbar, and specifically the Arab Jabour region; a significant increase in intelligence provided to coalition forces and Iraqi security forces at our joint security stations and combat outposts, as well as Iraqi command-and- control headquarters; improved confidence that the Iraqi people are starting to have more confidence in their own army . As a result, hundreds of extremists are no longer available to terrorize the innocent people; and thousands of Iraqis are better off today than they were just a month ago. Iraqis can be proud of their army and their police, but there’s still some ways to go, and we all know that.

I also want to highlight, though, that the Iraqi security forces do in fact continue to grow and get better. They have shown a willingness to fight and take casualties, which has not always been the case. They have greatly improved their tactical proficiency and have placed more effective command-and-control structures in place, such as the Baghdad Operational Command. Their special operational forces are operating side by side with coalition forces throughout the country.
Recruiting continues to be strong, and manning of the units continues to increase. Professionalism, discipline and esprit de corps continue to improve. Their ability to conduct independent operations increases and continues to be done across the country.

By the numbers:

To date, we have conducted over 85 battalion-level operations, a 50 percent increase over the same one-month timeframe last year. We’ve fired over 300 precision-guided munitions. Almost 600 caches have been found and cleared, over 1,300 IEDs have been found and cleared, over 25 VBIEDs have been found and cleared and eight vehicle factory borne IED factories have been dismantled. Attacks, casualties and IEDs have all decreased since the start of Phantom Thunder.

Over 175 high-value individuals were either killed or captured since 15 June. These high-value targets include the capture of a suspected senior al Qaeda operative with possible ties to the June 2006 and May 2007 abductions of coalition forces, and the downing of a helicopter in April 2006.

(Courtesy, Pat Dollard.)

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