Yesterday, Maj. Gen. James Thurman, commander, 4th ID and Multi—National Division, Baghdad, which includes troops from Macedonia, Republic of Georgia & Estonia, gave a press briefing. Here are his opening remarks:
As you may know, we're approaching our first 90 days in theater as Multinational Division Baghdad. And there are three points I'd like to make.
First, the Iraqi security forces in Multinational Division Baghdad are succeeding in their mission. We are setting the conditions for stability and security in Baghdad, and this is the decisive period in the campaign as Iraq transitions to self— governance.
Our soldiers have risen to the challenge and are performing like champions in one of the most complex and demanding environments that I have seen.
As the operation has progressed, our task organization has changed. We currently have a little over 29,000 U.S. and coalition soldiers; approximately 32,000 Iraqi army, Iraqi national police and Iraqi police that are integrated into our formation with our coalition partners. This makes the mission truly a joint and combined effort.
Furthermore, we have increased the size of our battlespace to approximately 17,000 square miles by adding three additional provinces in addition to Baghdad. We have the Babil province, Karbala and Najaf. That's roughly the size of the state of West Virginia. The Iraqi security forces' assumption of battlespace and ability to protect their citizens has made that possible.
This leads me to my second point. The Iraqi security forces are in the lead. Within Multinational Division Baghdad, seven Iraqi brigades and 18 out of 29 battalions now own battlespace. Only three more brigades consisting of 11 battalions remain to assume battlespace. The Iraqi army has proven that they're trained and capable of protecting the Iraqi people, and their nation recognizes that.
Likewise, the Iraqi police are also poised to assume their civil law enforcement duties and are doing so. The police academies are training new recruits every day as more citizens volunteer to serve and protect the Iraqi people.
The Iraqi people further demonstrate their growing trust and confidence by the use of the national tip hotline. Over 3,000 tips have been received, and more than 2,500 of those tips have led to successful operations.
My last point is that the terrorists are failing. Terrorists failed to stop the elections. They failed to stop the recent seating of the Council of Representatives, which occurred on the 16th of March. And they have failed to incite civil war by the attack on the Golden Shrine in Samarra. In each case, Iraqis rose to the challenge and prevented the terrorists from succeeding. Iraqi and coalition forces continue to disrupt multiple terrorist cells that indiscriminately attack civilians, Iraqi security forces and the coalition.
Since the Golden Shrine bombing on February the 22nd, many are tempted to call every act of violence as sectarian. This is not true. Much of the violence in Iraq can be attributed to desperate acts of terrorism, designed to derail the formation of the national unity government. While sectarian violence does exist, much of the violence is due to criminal activity that existed prior to the Samarra bombing.
In conclusion, Iraqi forces are succeeding. They're in the lead, and they are gaining capability every day.
U.S. and coalition soldiers remain committed to the fight and assisting our Iraqi partners.
We know what is at stake, and we will defeat the terrorists. Our nation can take pride today in the selfless service and the professionalism and the courage of the great men and women that I have the honor and privilege to serve with every day."
For the Q&A session, go here.
John B. Dwyer 4 1 06