U.S. military plans to move to bases outside Iraqi cities

Friday, February 13, 2004

BAGHDAD The U.S. military plans to leave major Iraqi cities as part of an effort to transfer security responsibility to the Iraqi Army and security forces.

U.S. officials said Central Command, responsible for U.S. troops in Iraq and much of the Middle East, plans to construct bases outside of Iraqi cities. The U.S. military presence inside the cities would be replaced by Iraqi military and security forces.

The redeployment would begin in May 2004. The U.S. military has already been constructing bases to accommodate tens of thousands of U.S. troops outside of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, the Iraqi police force numbers about 8,500 officers, Middle East Newsline reported. They are joined by seven battalions of the Civil Defense Corps, launched on Aug. 27, 2003.

Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division, said his unit will move to six camps on the perimeter of Baghdad. Dempsey said the facilities will serve as a substitute for 28 U.S. Army bases in the Iraqi capital by the time the 1st Cavalry Division replaces the 1st Armored Division in the second quarter of 2004.

"They will be on the outside looking in," Dempsey said. "We were very much on the inside looking out."

[On Thursday, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid escaped injury when his convoy was attacked while entering an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps battalion headquarters in Falujah. The convoy came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades, but nobody was injured.]

Officials said the redeployment has been facilitated by the rapid growth of Iraq's military, police and security forces. The total number of such forces approaches 200,000 as thousands of police officers, security cadets and troops are being trained monthly in both Iraq and Jordan.

Dempsey said the U.S. military will maintain a presence in Baghdad with two base camps in the Green Zone. By May 1, the 1st Division presence will be reduced from 28 to eight camps in the city, followed by another reduction later this year.

"I believe the ICDC and the police are capable of handling the threat, based on the way we've attacked it and defeated it over time," Dempsey said.

Officials said the number of police in Baghdad will increase to 10,000 in May 2004 and 19,000 in February 2005. ICDC forces now number 4,000 and will increase to 6,000 by mid-2004.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover