U.S. General: Iraqi Attacks Insignificant
U.S. General Says Iraqi Attacks Militarily Insignificant
(Defense Department Report, June 18: Iraq operations)
By David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The commander of the U.S. Army's hi-tech Fourth Infantry Division says he is seeing Iraqi military activity throughout his division's area of responsibility, but that the activity is "militarily insignificant."
At a Pentagon teleconference from Baghdad June 18, Major General Ray Odierno said that he has 27,000 troops under his command, operating over three provinces of northeastern and central Iraq. "Our area of responsibility stretches from just north of Baghdad to the Iranian border in the east, and stretches north to the oil fields north of Kirkuk and includes Tami, Tikrit, Samara and Ballad, and west to Lake Tartar," he said.
Odierno said the opposition military resistance is "small ... very random ... and very ineffective. ... They're having no impact on the way we conduct business on a day-to-day basis in Iraq."
Odierno provided the media with an update of the current situation in the area of Iraq under his control since his command began operations 75 days ago. He said his soldiers "are involved in almost daily contact with noncompliant forces, former regime members and common criminals."
To defeat these attacks and improve security and stability, U.S. forces conduct "search-and-attack missions, presence patrols and raids to disarm, defeat and destroy hostile forces, as well as to capture the former regime members," Odierno said. A critical step in providing stability, he said, was "orchestrating the peaceful disarmament of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK)," resulting in the "consolidation" of about 5,000 people and 2,000 pieces of military equipment.
Over the past week, the task force has conducted two major operations, Odierno said: Peninsula Strike, which was a combined air, ground and riverine operation to isolate an area considered to be a stronghold of Saddam Hussein loyalists; and Operation Desert Scorpion, a series of more than 50 raids on suspected terrorists, Ba'ath Party members and Fedayeen fighters.
In Peninsula Strike, close to 400 people were detained, and more than 60 have been confirmed as members of the old Iraqi intelligence service, the Fedayeen or as Republican Guard leadership, Odierno said. Desert Scorpion has also detained about 400 individuals, he said, including local leaders of some new radical groups, such as the New Return and the Snake Party -- essentially Ba'athists by another name.
On June 18, four hours before the briefing, Odierno said, U.S. infantry forces raided two farmhouses outside Tikrit, and seized $8.5 million in U.S. currency and 300-400 million Iraqi dinar, along with English pounds and Euros not yet counted, an estimated $1 million in jewels and gems, and Russian-made night-vision goggles, sniper rifles, uniforms and equipment of Saddam's personal guard -- plus 15-20 people associated with his personal security forces.
Then, just before the briefing, Odierno said a vehicle trying to flee from the scene of the farmhouses was stopped, and $800,000 was confiscated.
Apart from military strikes, Odierno noted the provincial government selection process that occurred in Kirkuk in May as a positive step.
"Three hundred delegates representing each ethnic and political group, religious leaders and businessmen representing the province selected the interim Kirkuk city council and in turn elected a Kurdish mayor, an Arabic deputy mayor and three assistant mayors to chair the offices of de-Ba'athification, government design, and resettlement and compensation," Odierno said.
The commander also highlighted results of recent efforts to restore municipal services, which include:
-- Over 4,000 police have been screened and hired;
-- A provisional police academy has opened in Ba'qubah, and a second one is in development in Kirkuk;
-- All police stations were damaged and looted; all have been assessed and equipment requirements identified in all major cities;
-- Joint police patrols are being conducted in every city;
-- All courts have been assessed, and 15 courts have been opened with staff judge advocate military personnel monitoring proceedings;
-- Translated court records have been reviewed for due process, and former Ba'ath Party judges have been vetted and removed from participation;
-- Of 43 banks, 37 have been opened, with all bank records reviewed to ensure account, salary and payroll accuracy.
-- Salaries are being paid to police, government employees, hospital workers, teachers, power plant and water and sanitation workers, as well as emergency payments to pensioners;
-- Food continues to be distributed, and payments for the harvest have begun; and
-- There is no food shortage in the area under 4th Infantry Division's control; World Food Program warehouses are restocked.
In public works, Odierno said the situation is much the same:
-- A 600-meter assault float bridge has been built across the Tigris River, as well as a 400-meter bridge in al Sadiyah -- both critical for civilian and military crossing traffic;
-- A bypass has been built around a damaged bridge pipeline, allowing residual oil to flow from Baiji refineries into Kirkuk;
-- Health policy is being coordinated with the Iraqi health ministry;
-- Twenty-four of 28 hospitals are fully operational and 15 clinics are open and stocked with proper medicines;
-- Infrastructure has been repaired and commercial power restored to three medical facilities, and an immunization program has been facilitated, resulting in 3,000-plus immunizations so far.
-- The Baiji refinery has been put back on line, producing 4.7 million liters of benzene daily, as well as 187 tons of liquid propane gas; and
-- In public education, 98 percent of all schools are open, with year-end exams scheduled for the end of the month; numerous school repair and refurbishment projects have been established.