U.S. equipment flows into Iraq, 225,000 enlist in military

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The United States has accelerated efforts to equip Iraqi security forces as Washington handed over authority to a new Iraqi government ahead of schedule.

U.S. officials said the Defense Department has shipped 82 military trucks, 24 passenger buses, 170 commercial transports, 500 AK-47 assault rifles, 54,000 rounds of ammunition and 57,000 sets of body armor, officials said. They said additional vehicles, equipment and weapons would be delivered to the Iraqi army and security forces over the next few weeks.

Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, director for strategic plans and policy at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S.-led coalition has made significant progress in recruiting, training and equipping Iraqi security forces. Sharp said recruitment for the Iraqi forces continues to be high.

For nearly a year, U.S. commanders have complained of delays in the procurement and arrival of equipment and weapons for the Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The commanders said the lack of effective equipment was a factor in the refusal by Iraqi troops to fight Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in April, Middle East Newsline reported.

"More than 225,000 Iraqi citizens have taken positions in the various components of the Iraqi security forces," Sharp told the House Armed Services Committee.

He said that by the end of June more than $3 billion will have been committed to Iraqi security forces equipment, infrastructure and training. Within a year all of Iraq's security forces will be fully trained and equipped, Sharp told the House committee on June 16.

[On Sunday, two U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, one of them while he was leaving Baghdad on a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. U.S. officials said the aircraft was hit by small-arms fire and a soldier on-board was killed. The officials said the aircraft was not significantly damaged.]

The official said the Department of Border Enforcement, the ICDC and the Facilities Protection Service will be fully trained and equipped by September 2004. He said the Iraqi military will be trained and equipped by December 2004, and the Iraqi police by June 2005.

Officials said that 90,000 Iraqis were serving in the Iraqi Police Service, another 18,000 in the Department of Border Enforcement, 37,500 in the ICDC, 9,750 in the Iraqi military and 74,000 in the Facilities Protection Service.

On Monday, the United States formally handed over authority to Iraq, two days before the June 30 deadline. U.S. administrator Paul Bremer then left Iraq.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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