Coalition Battles Sabotage, Smuggling of Iraqi Gasoline
By Jim Garamone
personnel are working with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil to head off
gasoline smuggling, sabotage of the oil industry infrastructure
and black-market profiteering. Officials said these continue to
be among the greatest problems facing the Iraqi people.
spokesman Dan Senor and Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the operations
deputy at Combined Joint Task Force 7, briefed the press in Baghdad
today. Senor talked about steps the coalition is making to combat
the gas shortage that is plaguing life in Iraq.
a number of causes to the gasoline shortage, which has made for
long gas lines at neighborhood stations throughout the country.
He said prosperity is one reason. There are 250,000 more cars
in Iraq since the fall of Saddam, he said, and the increase in
demand is one reason for the shortage.
cause is a supply problem. "We are dealing with antiquated,
chronically under-invested oil equipment and infrastructure,"
Senor said. "This infrastructure is highly susceptible to
sabotage and attacks."
He said Iraqi
security forces are working with coalition military personnel
to address those problems. "Iraqi security forces are stepping
up their security at gas stations (and) at production facilities
at these critical areas across the country," he said. The
Iraqis have stopped a number of attacks on gas production facilities,
he said, and have arrested gasoline smugglers in Samarra and outside
across the country have joined the effort to stop attacks and
oil profiteering, Senor said. The clerics have issued strong statements
and, in some cases, fatwas — religious edicts — condemning the
will take time to address the root cause, Senor said, moves are
being made to improve the quality of the infrastructure, to build
in the necessary redundancy and to make the oil industry less
vulnerable to attacks.
coalition forces continue to attack the enemy across Iraq. The
coalition conducted 1,639 patrols, 40 offensive operations and
29 raids, and captured 101 anti-coalition suspects in the past
24 hours, he said at today’s press briefing, which began at 9
a.m. EST. Iraqi security forces participated in many of these
operations, he added.
In the north,
coalition forces conducted cordon-and-search operations. In Mosul,
U.S. soldiers moved against a possible safe house for terrorist
activities. They also conducted a second operation that killed
three enemy personnel and captured three individuals. "Other
operations resulted in the capture of three additional targets,
including the associate of a ranking high-value target,"
forces also reopened two bridges in Sulaymaniyah, a small city
east of Kirkuk.
In a central-area
operation, coalition forces that included Iraqi police, members
of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi Border Patrol captured
forces also found a large weapons cache outside Samarra. Soldiers
found a large number of weapons and bomb-making material. They
also found al Qaeda literature and ceramic body armor.
coalition forces conducted six raids as part of the continuing
Operation Iron Grip, Kimmitt said. Soldiers captured 13 enemy
Kimmitt were grilled on reports that the Iraqi security forces
were not up to the challenge they face. About 70,000 Iraqi police
are on duty now, roughly 7,000 of them in Baghdad. Senor said
people must remember that there were no Iraqi police in May. He
said that despite a robust vetting process for Iraqis joining
the security forces, mistakes are made, and when they are discovered,
they are rectified, he said.
given a choice between having perfectly trained security forces
later vs. "sufficiently trained" forces now, coalition
commanders would go for the latter. He said the Iraqi forces working
alongside coalition personnel provide intelligence, translation
services and can act as the intermediaries. "If you have
to go into a mosque, for instance, you don’t go in with a coalition
soldier, you go in with an Iraqi soldier," he pointed out.
he said, "the commanders would come back and say the decision
to not wait until we had the perfect solution was the wise one,
was the prudent one and one that has probably saved a significant
number of coalition lives in the process."