Continue to Move Forward, General Says
soldiers patrol a check point in Abu Sayda, Diyala
province, Iraq during Operation Raider
Navy Photo by Sean Mulligan
than 31,000 citizens now providing security assistance to
coalition forces in southern belts of Baghdad and the
southern provinces of Iraq, the Iraqi people continue to move forward, a
U.S. commander said.
local citizens man more than 1,400 checkpoints and have pointed
out more than 400 weapons caches and improvised
explosive devices, Army Maj.
Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Center, said during
a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers.”
“We are working to establish a sustained security presence
and bring Iraqi security forces into specific areas,” Lynch
When Multinational Division Center arrived in
Iraq 10 months ago, there were on average 25 attacks per day
in the division’s
area of responsibility, Lynch said. Now there are less than five
per day. And of those five, only one, on average, results in
casualty or damage to equipment, he noted.
The Iraqis also have provided intelligence that has led to the
capture of several high-priority targets the coalition had been
seeking over the last 10 months, the general added.
Lynch said he believes this to be a result of the Iraqi citizens
taking responsibility for their own country.
“I’m convinced that what happened was they just
got tired of the violence, they got tired of the intimidation,
they got tired of being told what they could and couldn’t
do,” he added. “So now they’ve risen up.”
The 31,000 citizens helping with security work in about 150
groups at the local level.
“What we’re finding is this amazing identification
as Iraqis, not Sunni or Shiias,” said Lynch. “All
of them talk about being Iraqi and doing the right thing for
the people in their areas.”
Now, with the citizens feeling more secure, the coalition is
focusing more on a new campaign plan called Marne Fortitude II.
“Marne Fortitude II allows us to focus on economic development,
job development, and at the same time maintain security where
it is now,” Lynch explained.
“None of (the citizens) are worried about security,” Lynch
said. “All of them are worried about services such as power
and the economy. They’ve organized themselves at the local
level through a governing body, and they want connectivity with
the provincial governments, so we’re working on that.”
The coalition and the concerned local citizens are working together
to ensure that they establish irreversible momentum, Lynch said.
“To keep from moving backwards and keep this window of
opportunity open, we’re spending a lot of time working
with the Iraqi security forces to improve their capacity, and
then do things like work on local governance and local economic
development to maintain forward progress,” he said.