Iraq has taken responsibility for three out of four army divisions in the north.
The Middle East Newsline has learned that three of the four Iraq Army divisions in the north have come under the control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. They said the Iraqi command of these divisions have enabled U.S. combat units to assign additional manpower to training, reconstruction and intelligence issues.
“They still need to make improvements in their overall manning, their equipping and their general professionalism, and we continue to work that each day,” said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of MultinationalDivision North.
Mixon said Iraq Army units in the north have achieved 85 percent manpower level. He said the Iraqi units continue to experience significant equipment shortages.
In contrast, officials said, U.S. troops have been serving in what they termed an “advise-and-assist role.” They cited operations against suspected al-Qaida leaders, financiers and improvised explosive devices cells.
In a briefing, Mixon said the Iraq Army was expected to take responsibility for its fourth and final division in the summer of 2007.
Mixon has added nearly 400 U.S. soldiers to his military transition teams and 33 additional teams to help train the Iraq police.
A weak point in the Iraqi Forces remain those responsible for border security. Officials also cited the strategic infrastructure battalions, those that secure critical oil refining and delivery infrastructure.
Many of the officers in the Iraqi strategic infrastructure battalions were deemed as corrupt. Officials said dozens of them have been dismissed for working with insurgents or stealing oil.
In mid-March, officials said, the U.S. Army has added 700 troops in the Diyala province, the worst of the four northern provinces. They said coalition forces have killed more than 175 insurgents since early January.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.
©The Bulletin 3/16/2007 Iraq Now Controls Three Out Of Four Army Divisions