New U.S. plan: 20,000 Iraqis trained for paramilitary force

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The United States has drafted a revised plan that calls for the establishment of Iraqi security forces to combat insurgents.

The plan authorizes the training and equipping of more than 20,000 Iraqis for paramilitary missions. Officials said the missions would involve joint operations with British and U.S. forces against insurgents mostly in the Sunni Triangle.

The Sunni Triangle is the area of Sunni communities north of Baghdad where the majority of Sunnis live. The Triangle is along the Tigris River and moves west. It includes such cities as Faluja, A-Ramadi, according to a report by Middle East Newsline.

"We're starting this week to raise an Iraqi civil defense corps," the U.S. administrator in Iraq L. Paul Bremer said. "We're likely to get better intelligence about who it is we're fighting. We have to know who these people are then we've got to seek them out [and] either capture them or kill them."

Bremer said the new Iraqi force will be under U.S. military command "to help us basically with the armed part of the work we're doing." He did not disclose the size of the militia.

The Iraqi forces would be organized in battalion-size groups in counter-insurgency missions. Officials said they would participate in combat as well as provide intelligence, policing and support missions.

The plan represents a revision of the original U.S. project to create an Iraqi army. Officials said a new Iraqi military would take up to 2006 and fail to address the current Sunni insurgency war.

The first stage of the security force plan would comprise the establishment of at least 10 battalions. Each battalion would be attached to a U.S. division or battalion. The two sides would engage in joint training and prepare for operations within 45 days. In all, there would be 7,000 Iraqi security troops.

The U.S. administrator said Washington has moved along three fronts. They include the recruitment of a new national army, training of a 65,000-member police force and formation of an Iraqi border guard unit.

"The Iraqis want to be in the fight," U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid told the Washington Post. "We intend to get them in the fight."

Abizaid said Central Command would revise its configuration of forces by September. He said the focus of the coalition force structure would be on mobility.

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