World Tribune.com

U.S. is in no rush to rebuild collapsed Iraqi security forces

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

The U.S. military plans to take its time rebuilding Iraq's security forces.

U.S. officials said the Defense Department and the military's Central Command will employ lessons from the collapse of the Iraqi security forces during the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgency in Iraq in April. About half of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps fled during the fighting.

Central Command plans to establish 45 ICDC battalions, officials said. At first, officials said, the effort was to have been completed in early 2005. But officials have since deemed the original timetable as unrealistic.

Officials said the ICDC has been included in 300 out of 2,000 patrols conducted daily in Iraq. ICDC operations have included joint patrols with U.S. and other coalition troops, Middle East Newsline reported.

The U.S. goal has been to ensure that each of the ICDC battalions would be able to operate independently of U.S. forces. Officials said the rebuilding effort will require a set of benchmarks to ensure that the force can return to the field without coalition support.

"We're not trying to rush that," Maj. Gen. John Sattler, Central Command operations director, said. "It'll be event-driven. It'll be based on their performance, and it'll be based on the assessment and the capability of which areas they do go into, [and] how large and tough a mission they might take on. All those [factors] will fit into that equation."

At a May 28 briefing from Qatar, Sattler said several ICDC units have mastered military tactics, techniques and procedures. He did not say what proportion of the ICDC has achieved this.

"We've had a number of ICDC warriors who have fought extremely well," Sattler said. "They have proven themselves on the battlefield, and many of them have paid by being severely wounded or lightly wounded, and some have paid with their lives."

In addition, ICDC troops have been conducting an additional 150 independent patrols a day in Iraq. Sattler said the U.S. military seeks to expand this capability by creating a partnership between the Iraqi police force and the ICDC.

"But the bottom line is," Sattler said, "the goal, as we move toward sovereignty here, and as we transition into sovereignty as a partnership will be to continue to work with the police force and the ICDC to get to where at least 50 percent, working up to 100 percent, of our patrols are, in fact, joint -- where no patrol goes out, no operation is conducted, without an Iraqi alongside of a coalition member."


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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