On Aug. 24, Williams and other advisers from the U.S. Army's 1st
Division met Kurdish security forces to plan ways to protect the northern
Iraqi province of Kirkuk, Middle East Newsline reported. Kirkuk has been seething with tension between
Kurds and Sunni Muslims, the latter supported by the Baghdad government.
Officials said the U.S. military has been helping the 1st Kurdish
Regional Guard Brigade conduct security operations in Kirkuk while avoiding
confrontations with Iraqi Sunnis and ethnic Turks. They said the
coordination was important amid plans for most of the U.S. advisory team to
leave the region over the next few months.
"We talked about a number of issues around the security checkpoints and
how important it is for the 1st RGB to assume more responsibility," said
Williams, the primary adviser to Kurdish Brig. Gen. Shirko Fatih Shwani,
commander of the 1st RGB.
The U.S. military has helped in the establishment of eight Kurdish
brigades, responsible to KRG. The 1st Brigade is the only one in Kirkuk and
regarded as the best-equipped and -manned unit.
"There are internal enemies, which the RGB faces and addresses, but for
their focus the real threat is external forces," Williams said.