Forgiveness and Horses
Excellent piece on Danny Dietz in Denver Post

Good News from Iraq Report- The FishWrap

LT Fishman serves up the open source good news in the weekly FishWrap.

US nabs top al-Qaeda militant
April 8, 2007 10:40  - (Agence France Presse) Baghdad - US forces captured a leading al-Qaeda militant on Sunday whom they hold responsible for a wave of deadly car bombings in the capital, the military said in a statement. It did not name the suspect but said he was a close aide of al-Qaeda's Baghdad commander. A US military spokesperson told AFP the captured militant acted as a point man for the al-Qaeda commander. He was a "gatekeeper, somebody through whom you needed to go to meet the leader," he said. The military statement said the captured militant had ties to several senior al-Qaeda figures and was suspected of involvement in a series of deadly vehicle bombings in the capital. It said he was detained along with two other known al-Qaeda militants.

Good News Iraq Weekly Report 8 April- Lieutenant Jarred Fishman, USAFR

1) Baghdad curfew eased as surge scores successes 

  Sharon Behn THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published April 4, 2007 BAGHDAD –

American and Iraqi soldiers yesterday killed six terrorists and captured another 41 insurgents and death-squad suspects in operations in Baghdad and outside Fallujah, military officials said. The raids were part of the ongoing enormous effort by U.S. and Iraqi security forces to break the backs of the various armed groups warring in Iraq. The Iraqi government cited the success of that operation yesterday in announcing that the nightly curfew will be pushed back by two hours. In Baghdad, a U.S. Stryker battalion and an Iraqi battalion fanned out in east Mansour, an area of the city where Shi'ite death squads have been forcing Sunni families out of their homes and replacing them with followers of Muqtada al-Sadr's radical militia. Directed by Iraqi and American intelligence sources, the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team raided houses overnight, capturing nine members of what they said was a known death-squad cell. "We think they are responsible for the deaths of 22 Sunnis in this area, as well as [rocket-propelled grenade] and small-arms attacks," said an intelligence officer involved in the operation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. In separate operations, coalition forces killed six al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists and captured 13 other "facilitators" yesterday morning south of Fallujah and in al Qaim, on the border with Syria, the U.S. military said. The men arrested in Baghdad were swiftly flex-cuffed, blindfolded and hauled off to one of the city's detention centers, where they sat with their backs against a wall waiting to be screened by U.S. medical personnel. One man came in whimpering and limping on the arms of two American soldiers, his arm and leg bandaged after trying to escape the raid by jumping over several walls. Altogether, 28 detainees were brought into the holding center from raids across Baghdad. 

The raids were part of the stepped-up U.S. security presence in Baghdad, but the significance is hard to judge. Although the military actions yesterday interrupted one death squad, the intelligence officer said, the long-term impact could be determined only by "going back to the neighbors and asking them if they feel safer now." Iraqis say several neighborhoods have improved since the security plan went into operation almost eight weeks ago, an appraisal reflected in pushing back the start of the nightly curfew to 10 p.m. Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the spokesman for the Baghdad security operation, said the decision was made "because the security situation has improved and people needed more time to go shopping." However, residents of other neighborhoods say they are seeing a return to sectarian executions.A father of two girls said he was moving out of his area after he and his family listened from their house as a teenage neighbor pleaded in the street for a Shi'ite death squad to spare his father's life. They killed him anyway. "The Shi'ite militia are making trouble," said Hassan, who asked that his full name not be used. "They are idiots, stupid." After almost four years of war and a week of finding corpses outside his door, Hassan said, he has to move. American forces, such as the Stryker brigades operating across the capital and in Diyala province, are working 12- to 14-hour days to clear both Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhoods block by block and house by house. They also are trying to work side by side with the Iraqi army and police in order for them to establish trust among the local population. He thinks progress has been made. "Even coming to an agreement to not kill each other is a step in a positive direction; it has happened in some neighborhoods," he said. Layla, a Kurdish woman who lives in Baghdad, said shops were beginning to reopen on the shell-pocked main street of her neighborhood, which once bustled with juice stands, coffee shops, hamburger restaurants and small kitchenware stores. "They attacked [the Zayoona neighborhood] several times in the last three or four months, but now people feel safe enough to open their stores," she said.  It is "not exactly" safe to go to the market, she said. "You don't know who is going to kill you, or kidnap you." While most Iraqis are withholding judgment on the security surge, a cross-section of women and men said the U.S. military was the only thing preventing complete chaos. "If they retreat and leave everything to the Iraqis, at that time the civil war in Iraq will start," Hassan said.

2) First Iraqi Water Bottling Company Opens in Sulamaniyah http://www.moderaterisk.net/2007/04/robot_video_from_iraq.php Salar Fakhri. Refugee, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Iraqi Kurd. Working to make a future in Iraq.  We got in touch with our fixer and he arranged things so that a few days after noticing the imprint, we were standing next to the machine making them and the man who got things working in Iraq, Salar Fakhri. The factory Salar built was unremarkable to me at first because everything seemed perfectly in order. Then I remembered that my personal standard for factories is my experience at Intel circuit board and computer production plants in Oregon. Salar has brought high technology standards to Iraq. People moved around the machinery in lab smocks taking care to keep the line moving smoothly. There was no yelling over the equipment noise, no frantic action to avert disaster at the last minute, no hint of grime on the equipment, and nothing to suggest that this was anything but a modern industrial plant. Salar was open in sharing his story with us on video. One of the many Kurdish refugees from the 1976 Saddam-Shah-Kissinger diaspora, he found a home in the United Kingdom where he pursued his engineering studies. He found work in a variety of computer engineering positions including Apple. When it became apparent in late 2002 that this President Bush was serious about getting rid of Saddam for good, Salar decided to commit to making Iraq work. Noting the critical shortage of bottled water production capacity in his old homeland, he decided to become an expert in the field. The rapid pace of the high technology world produces people who can learn new skills with incredible speed, and before long Salar had a clear idea of what would produce the most competitive product. Then began a four year odyssey to get a factory up and running with his life savings. Transportation of the first equipment load to Iraq went smoothly from Aqabah, Jordan up to Iraqi Kurdistan, but then bandits and terrorists closed that route. The second load waited on the dock for several months before coming in from Turkey. With all the equipment in place, struggling with the local government for a place to set up the factory took years of delays. Eventually, an abandoned Pepsi plant was made available. After that, the problem of getting the Taiwanese engineers to come to Iraq was the roadblock. It was difficult to convince the engineers that the Kurdistan region was the safe part of Iraq. Then power availability dropped to two hours a day while fuel prices for the generator skyrocketed. Next came training people with no manufacturing experience how to operate precision machinery in extreme aseptic conditions and instill in them a genuine appreciation of quality production. With production underway, actually selling the water in competition with Iranian product that does not face any quality standards for importation or sale. Teaching Iraqi consumers about the importance of quality water is Salar's next challenge. Video of the Plant in operation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXrYFq_XCb0&eurl=

3) US and Iraqi forces battles Al Mahdi militia in Iraqi city http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6535591.stm April 7 BBC NEWS

US and Iraqi troops have been engaged in a second day of fierce fighting with Shia militias they are trying to oust from the central city of Diwaniya. The fighting is part of an operation to extend the recent security drive beyond Baghdad to other parts of the country. Jets and tanks have been supporting ground troops in the offensive against militiamen loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. 'Terrorising residents' US and Iraqi forces launched Operation Black Eagle at dawn on Friday on Diwaniya, 180km (110 miles) south of Baghdad. A curfew was imposed and leaflets were dropped telling residents not to go out. At least one fixed-wing air strike has supported tanks and troops engaged in close-quarter fighting, with militias responding with rocket-propelled grenades. US military spokesman Lt-Col Scott Bleichwehl said one person was killed in the air strike on a hostile target "initiated by a tip that was called in by a local citizen". Col Michael Garrett of the 4th Brigade Combat Team said three US soldiers had been injured so far in the clashes and that two Humvees had been destroyed. Iraqi sources reported fighting in Salim Street and the southern districts of Nahda and Wahda. Up to 30,000 new US troops have been assigned to Iraq for the security crackdown on militias, which began two months ago. Diwaniya has seen many clashes between militias and security forces over the past year. BBC world affairs correspondent Jonathan Charles in Baghdad says the US now believes Moqtada al-Sadr is a bigger threat to the stability of Iraq than Sunni insurgents. Our correspondent says Moqtada al-Sadr's men are accused of terrorising residents in Diwaniya, killing many, including women who are said to have offended their interpretation of Islamic morality. The US is also making it clear that this will not be the last city to see such action, he says.

4) Senior Iraqi Cleric Dismisses Talk of Civil War (This is an IRANIAN news story!) http://www.farsnews.com/English/newstext.php?nn=8601180271

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Friday Prayers leader of the Iraqi city of Najaf here in Tehran on Friday stressed that there exists no civil war in his country and that the present unrests are originated and led from outside Iraq. Addressing Tehran's international conference on Islamic Unity, Sadroddin Ghabanchi said that unity, independence and free political system set his country's political principles, and reminded, "A 35-year-old dictatorship has been toppled down in Iraq and this is a great development that has taken place in Iraq and the entire region." "Everyone should know that this development has some requirements. The goal is replacement of the former autocracy with a liberal system. We want all Iraqi peoples and tribes to have a share in Iraq's political system. We have even asked those who we believed did not seek Iraq's interests to come and cooperate in the establishment of the new political system in our country," he continued. The cleric underlined that no civil war has occurred in Iraq, "rather a number of Takfiri groups, which have been imposed on us from outside, have come into harmony with the Ba'thist groups and kill Iraqi Shiites and Sunnites." Dismissing the reports promulgated by satellite news channels about the critical and worrying conditions in Iraq, he underscored, "… therefore, we do not worry about Iraq's conditions, because there exists no domestic war in Iraq except for the activities of the alien Takfiri groups." He further underscored that the Iraqi nation is asking for the free presence of all groups on the country's political scene. Elsewhere, the Iraqi cleric said, "It will be impossible for the occupying troops to stay in Iraq for a long time, neither our religion, nor our patriotism allow this to happen. We are approaching the final days of occupation. Efforts are being made to procrastinate deployment of occupying troops in Iraq, but the said efforts and moves will be faced with the firm determination of the Iraqi nation." "The same way we toppled down Saddam Hussein, we are striving to cement our unity," he said, mentioning that execution of Saddam took place as a result of national resolve and not in compliance with the will and aspiration of a specific group in Iraq." He further lashed out at those satellite channels which started mourning for Saddam Hussein after his execution, reminding that Saddam was the person who massacred thousands of Iranians, Kuwaitis and Iraqis.

5) Anbar Salvation Council continues to fight Al Qaeda

http://www.alsabaah.com/paper.php?source=akbar&mlf=interpage&sid=40028

6) New units of Iraqi Army Move into Baghdad from Kurdistan http://www.alsabaah.com/paper.php?source=akbar&mlf=interpage&sid=40124

Al Sabaah Newspaper: Baghdad, April 7. page 1. Al Sabah Newspaper: Sources at Iraqi Army Headquarters revealed that new units of 3rd battalion, 2nd brigade, headed for Baghdad to participate at enforcement of law (Fardh Al Qanoun) plan. The source showed that the force moved from Kirkuk would work beside existent forces in the capital which contained brigades of Arbil and Sulaimania which include 2000 soldiers, deployed among four areas in Baghdad.   

7) Iraqi Sunni Conference Held in Amman Calls for stopping Bloodshed http://www.alsabaah.com/paper.php?source=akbar&mlf=copy&sid=40117

Baghdad, Amman, Al-Sabah, April 7, P4 Several observers for Iraqi affairs have noted that the recommendations which the 5th Sunni Endowment Conference reached in Amman on April 5 will contribute in alleviating the sectarian congestion as well as prevailing the medial balanced conceptions. In statements to as-Sabah newspaper, the observers indicated that the calls which had been the conference reached to such as discarding the sectarian and ethnic disputes as well as condemning the illegal practices targeting innocents and preventing infidelity are meeting with what the government is seeking to implement through the law enforcement plan in order to prevail stability in Iraq and the various national reconciliation projects.

8) The War You Are Not Reading About

By John McCain Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page B07 Washington Post

I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq since 2003 -- and my first since Gen. David Petraeus's new strategy has started taking effect. For the first time, our delegation was able to drive, not use helicopters, from the airport to downtown Baghdad. For the first time, we met with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who are working with American and Iraqi forces to combat al-Qaeda. For the first time, we visited Iraqi and American forces deployed in a joint security station in Baghdad -- an integral part of the new strategy. We held a news conference to discuss what we saw: positive signs, underreported in the United States, that are reason for cautious optimism.I observed that our delegation "stopped at a local market, where we spent well over an hour, shopping and talking with the local people, getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day." Markets in Baghdad have faced devastating terrorist attacks. A car bombing at Shorja in February, for example, killed 137 people. Today the market still faces occasional sniper attacks, but it is safer than it used to be. One innovation of the new strategy is closing markets to vehicles, thereby precluding car bombs that kill so many and garner so much media attention. Petraeus understandably wanted us to see this development. I went to Iraq to gain a firsthand view of the progress in this difficult war, not to celebrate any victories. No one has been more critical of sunny progress reports that defied realities in Iraq. In 2003, after my first visit, I argued for more troops to provide the security necessary for political development. I disagreed with statements characterizing the insurgency as a "few dead-enders" or being in its "last throes." I repeatedly criticized the previous search-and-destroy strategy and argued for a counterinsurgency approach: separating the reconcilable population from the irreconcilable and creating enough security to facilitate the political and economic solutions that are the only way to defeat insurgents. This is exactly the course that Petraeus and the brave men and women of the American military are pursuing. The new political-military strategy is beginning to show results. But most Americans are not aware because much of the media are not reporting it or devote far more attention to car bombs and mortar attacks that reveal little about the strategic direction of the war. I am not saying that bad news should not be reported or that horrific terrorist attacks are not newsworthy. But news coverage should also include evidence of progress. Whether Americans choose to support or oppose our efforts in Iraq, I hope they could make their decision based on as complete a picture of the situation in Iraq as is possible to report. A few examples:· Sunni sheikhs in Anbar are now fighting al-Qaeda. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Anbar's capital, Ramadi, to meet with Sunni tribal leaders. The newly proposed de-Baathification legislation grew out of that meeting. Police recruitment in Ramadi has increased dramatically over the past four months.· More than 50 joint U.S.-Iraqi stations have been established in Baghdad. Regular patrols establish connections with the surrounding neighborhood, resulting in a significant increase in security and actionable intelligence.· Extremist Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr is in hiding, his followers are not contesting American forces, sectarian violence has dropped in Baghdad and we are working with the Shiite mayor of Sadr City.· Iraqi army and police forces are increasingly fighting on their own and with American forces, and their size and capability are growing. Iraqi army and police casualties have increased because they are fighting more.Despite these welcome developments, we should have no illusions. This progress is not determinative. It is simply encouraging. We have a long, tough road ahead in Iraq. But for the first time since 2003, we have the right strategy. In Petraeus, we have a military professional who literally wrote the book on fighting this kind of war. And we will have the right mix and number of forces.There is no guarantee that we will succeed, but we must try. As every sensible observer has concluded, the consequences of failure in Iraq are so grave and so threatening for the region, and to the security of the United States, that to refuse to give Petraeus's plan a chance to succeed would constitute a tragic failure of American resolve. I hope those who cite the Iraq Study Group's conclusions note that James Baker wrote on this page last week that we must have bipartisan support for giving the new strategy time to succeed. This is not a moment for partisan gamesmanship or for one-sided reporting. The stakes are just too high.

9) ABC News Video Report of Progress in Baghdad http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3001578 video from ABC positive signs of surge

10) Meet Iraq's Most Important Man BY ELI LAKE New York Sun
April 3, 2007 URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/51693 The most important man in Iraq is someone of whom most Americans have never heard. He is not the general, David Patraeus, whom President Bush sent to Baghdad to win the war his wise men said could not be won. He is not Prime Minister Maliki, whose commitment to a unified Iraq Mr. Bush's national security adviser questioned in a leaked memo last winter. Nor is he the ethnic cleansing cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has not shown his head in Baghdad since February. Meet Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, the Sheikh who leads the Anbar Salvation Front. The front, a model now being emulated in Diyala and other provinces, could — if it works —win the war. It is an affiliation of 42 local tribal chiefs dedicated to expelling al-Qaeda from Iraq. As opposed to the other Sunni Iraqi leaders, who spent the last four years trying to broker deals between the Americans and the less pious terrorists devoted to destroying any government that failed to reflect the Ba'athist fiction that Sunni Arabs are a majority in Iraq, the Anbar Salvation Front is coordinating its counter-terrorism with both the Marines and the elected government.Mr. al-Rishawi agreed this month to participate in a counter-terrorism task force after Mr. Maliki personally paid him a visit in Ramadi. He also pledged allegiance to the Shiite led government and the office of the prime minister.One officer correspondent tells me that if elections were held this week in Anbar, the salvation front would sweep out the current lot representing the citizens of Fallujah and Ramadi. That's a good thing, considering that two of these legislators last year, Khalaf al-Ayan and Saleh Mutlaq, allegedly approached the Central Intelligence Agency about mounting a coup to topple the government.Part of Mr. al-Rishawi's appeal is that he has lost most of his family to al-Qaeda. This has been written about in a careful February 27 dispatch from of William Roggio, which is accessible at http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/02/alqaeda_on_sunni_vio.php. Like the non-sectarian legislator, Mithal al Alusi, who lost his two sons in 2005, the threats and attacks on Mr. al-Rishawi's family appears to have made the sheikh only more determined to rescue his country from these saboteurs.As he told the AP's Todd Pittman on March 25, "I was always against these terrorists . . . They brainwashed people into thinking Americans were against them. They said foreigners wanted to occupy our land and destroy our mosques. They told us, ‘We'll wage a jihad. We'll help you defeat them.'"The strategic significance of a Sunni Arab leader saying these words cannot be overestimated. Anbar Province was a home base for al-Qaeda before General Patraeus arrived in Baghdad. While the suicide bombs have not yet halted, the new salvation front has forced the terrorists to regroup in nearby Diyala province. If Mr. al-Rishawi can emulate what he did in Anbar to Diyala, no easy feat, al-Qaeda will find it has few friends left among the confessional constituency it claims to represent.To most Democrats, Mr. al-Rishawi should not exist. We have, according to this crowd, lost our chance to persuade the Iraqi people that we can protect them. Thus we have no choice but to betray them to those forces who are already there, whether they are the house to house executioners of the Iranian-inspired Mahdi Army or the recruiters of adolescent truck-bombers of al-Qaeda. The genie is out of the bottle.For a while, it looked like the second-guessers were correct. The words of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, slow to recognize there was even an insurgency, rang ever more hollow as the corpses of politicians, civilians and soldiers mounted. As honest critics and proponents of the war have to admit today, much of the sectarian division of Iraq has already happened.But in the logic of the withdraw-and-betray caucus, the dissolution of Iraq is solely the fault of the Americans, the invaders. But many forces have invaded and infiltrated Iraq, and unlike American soldiers, are interested only in prolonging the fratricide and insuring the country's dissolution.Mr. al-Rishawi's enemies in Anbar have benefited from a global network whose spiritual and tactical leaders reside in Waziristan, Pakistan. They receive cash from dummy bank accounts in allied capitals like Amman, Jordan.Hundreds of volunteer "martyrs" are, before they infiltrate Iraq, indoctrinated in camps just over the border in Syria. An Egyptian satellite provider, Nilesat, is the primary carrier for al-Zawraa, the station that only until five weeks ago was broadcasting the propaganda of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Cash and weapons for both sides of this war have been provided by Iran's Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard.This is not to say that Mr. al-Rishawi is not fighting Iraqis in Anbar. Rather it is to recognize that those Iraqis he seeks to destroy are fighting for the agenda of foreign powers. Too bad the reality-based community here can't see that for itself.

11) Signs of Progress under General Petraeus

RE: Petraeus Talks to Op-For Blog  [W. Thomas Smith Jr.] http://tank.nationalreview.com/ “I have always had every confidence in Gen. Petraeus. Still do. Remember, this guy literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency.So aside from all the complexities of fighting and putting down an insurgency, what is he doing different from General Casey? One thing is Petraeus's approach to a given area of responsibility. Previously, Casey's subordinate commanders would move their forces in, kill, capture, or run the bad guys out; bring in some infrastructure for the community; and then leave. And the bad guys would come back.Petraeus's approach is to do all those things, but never completely leave. His commanders are responsible for ensuring their areas of responsibility are progressing. And U.S. soldiers are staying. In Sadr City for instance — as dangerous as it is — U.S. soldiers are literally living there, bunking side-by-side with their Iraqi counterparts.These things take time. And being here I can see that you have to look through a lot of nastiness and daily setbacks to see the progress. But make no mistake, the progress is here. And I believe it is taking root, though it is a daily struggle against those who are trying to uproot it.”

12) Rep. Mike Pence reports on progress in Iraq April 3, 2007

I reported to Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday morning to begin my fifth journey to the war in Iraq. Let me say at the outset of this account, we have a long way to go in Iraq. There is tough, difficult work ahead. But let me also say, with conviction that we are making progress on the ground in Baghdad and Ramadi, and I believe there is reason for cautious optimism about the President’s surge.  Despite all you see and hear in the media, as I saw on the faces of hundreds of ordinary Iraqis on the streets of Baghdad, there is a springtime of hope beginning in Iraq. On my first trip to the region, I traveled with the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. I have led several trips with other members of Congress. This trip would be at the side of the most stalwart voices in Congress supporting the war in Iraq, Senator John McCain. Sheikh Sattar greeted him in Ramadi with the words, “we know of you and know of your proud family of warriors and we respect you.” It was an extraordinary privilege for this small-town boy to travel with this national figure for his first visit to Iraq since the surge began. This would be a journey of firsts.Our delegation included Senator McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi. We flew over in a Gulfstream 5 Air Force jet and spent the many hours in planning sessions and rest in anticipation of two full days in Iraq. Arriving in Kuwait, we boarded a KC-130 cargo plane and flew to Baghdad. From the moment of our arrival, I could sense that things were different in Baghdad. General David Petraeus met us at the airport, and, instead of boarding helicopters to the Green Zone, we boarded vehicles and drove into town. I hadn’t done this since my first trip several years ago. We usually took a helicopter downtown, but not this time. During our briefing we learned of the progress of the surge of U.S. and Iraqi forces into Baghdad. For the first time ever, U.S. and Iraqi forces have set up dozens of joint security stations throughout this city. They live at these stations and patrol from these stations together for weeks at a time. We learned that, while the fight is far from over, violence is down in large parts of Baghdad. Then we went and saw the progress for ourselves. We took a short helicopter ride across the river to a joint operating center in the heart of Baghdad. Below us we could see streets filled with cars, people bustling about their daily affairs…hardly the war zone that one expects to see from the majority of press coverage of the war. We saw a number of large, open-air markets teeming with shoppers. Thanks to the placement of barricades to prevent car bombs, the vendors and the buyers are returning to these markets. General Petraeus invited us to board a few humvees and do a little shopping ourselves. We pulled up to a bustling marketplace whose card tables, tents and shops lined either side of this street now closed to all but foot traffic. This was the site in February of a horrendous car bomb that killed more than 100 innocent Iraqis but with the barriers up, the people are back, We exited the vehicles and, along with a squad of military security, we spent more than an hour mixing and mingling with the locals. While we were instructed to leave our bulletproof vests on, General Petraeus took off his helmet and urged us to leave our helmets in the vehicles. Senator McCain threw himself into the crowd like he was in New Hampshire. I followed as he bought a ball cap, and haggled over rugs with a few Iraqi merchants. Before I left for Baghdad, my 12-year-old daughter asked me to buy her a souvenir and I had responded by reminding her gently that I was visiting Iraq and that wouldn’t be possible. As I stood on the street, I decided to come through after all. I bought my kids some rugs in Baghdad, Iraq. The merchant almost refused to take my money. He kept touching his heart and shaking his head no. His eyes, like so many others, radiated with affection and appreciation. He wanted to give me the rugs. I insisted that he accept my ten dollars and, happily, he relented. And so it went, up and down the street, in between tents and tables, squeezing past pedestrians to inspect the offerings in one booth after another, we milled around this marketplace in downtown Baghdad for more than an hour. I told reporters afterward that it was just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime. I didn’t mean that Baghdad was as safe as the Bargersville Flea Market; I just meant that that was what it looked and felt like…lots of people, lots of booths and a friendly relaxed atmosphere. We were the first group of American dignitaries ever to tour parts of Baghdad since the beginning of the war. While the fact that we were able to do so was remarkable, the people impacted me the most. When I am home in Indiana people who know I have been to Iraq often ask, “But do they appreciate what we’ve done?” That day, as we milled around this open-air market, I encountered nothing but warmth and friendship. Three little boys lined up just to shake my hand as I walked by, with their mother smiling nervously behind them. As we passed shop after shop, people waved, touched their hearts and expressed a greeting in Arabic and many just said “hello.” We paid our respects at the site of the February bombing and I breathed a prayer for the names listed on bed sheets fluttering in the wind. The scars on the buildings went up six stories on both sides of the street. It must’ve been a horrific explosion and yet, thanks to the security provided by U.S. and Iraqi forces, the people came back to the market. As we boarded our vehicles, I hoped for the day I might come back without a security detail, the day ordinary Americans could come to visit this fair city and receive the warmth and gratitude we experienced. As I dwelled on that thought, I noticed a young man standing by the curb wearing a baseball cap with the Indiana Pacers logo on it. I smiled to myself and felt hope for the first time in a long time and, with all my heart, I think many of the Iraqis I met are feeling hope as well.

While we dined with the Vice President of Iraq, Cabinet officials and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, as always, my meals with Indiana soldiers meant the most to me personally. We flew to Ramadi on Monday and, after meeting with U.S. and Iraqi military officials about the progress we are making across Al Anbar province, In Ramadi, I met again Chaplain Jim Russell of Anderson, Indiana, a stout and courageous man of faith who I have met here and at home several times. He asked me to pass along birthday wishes to his daughter Megan on Friday…she’ll be 14, just about the age of my oldest daughter. Wearing the uniform, a half a world away, missing his daughter’s birthday and no complaints. I told him I would take care of it.Then there was 2nd Lt. Walls, a medical officer from Evansville, Indiana. I told her I would be in Evansville next week and would try to give her folks a hug. She told me of the hard part of her job: “the kids.” Little children brought in, the victims of enemy car bombs and gunfire. She told how the clinic took in a newborn injured by insurgent violence but had no baby formula. She emailed her folks about it and, to no Hoosier’s surprise, the care packages of baby formula, diapers and toys descended on that clinic from Evansville like an avalanche. I love Indiana.I got so caught up getting a picture taken with these heroes in front of a Colts poster that I didn’t see our delegation leave When we arrived in Tikrit, I had dozens of Hoosiers waiting to chat in a conference room. All these brave men worked in support and logistics for the U.S. Army in Tikrit. A common theme there, as at lunch in Ramadi, was “the American people are not getting the whole story in the media.” I had one soldier tell me, “when I go home on R&R, I tell people ‘it’s nothing like what you see on TV, there’s a lot of good happening over here that never gets reported.’”. They asked about the debate in Congress over timelines for withdrawal. They were very aware of the flagging support for the war in Congress so I turned it back on them and asked, “How does a timetable for withdrawal affect you operationally?” The first Hoosier to speak said, “It really hurts morale.” Another soldier said, “My family back home likes all the talk of ending the war, but it really makes me mad.”I got so caught up in our chat, as before, I was running late and the staff yanked me out. As our KC-130 lifted off, I was more proud than ever to represent the United States of America and the extraordinary men and women of the Armed Forces serving Indiana in Iraq. We have profound challenges standing between us and the peace and democracy for which the people of Iraq yearn. There are tough and heartbreaking days ahead, but I have hope. I have seen the impact of the surge firsthand, I have walked among the Iraqi people and spoken with elected leaders, generals and sheiks, and I have seen determination in the eyes of the American soldier. Freedom can win in Iraq if we do not grow weary in doing the good things that our soldiers and the Iraqi forces are doing with new strategies and new leadership…if we do not lose heart as the enemies of freedom and civilization unleash their violence and hatred of freedom.

13) US air strike destroys explosives factory http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21497434-38201,00.html

From correspondents in Baghdad April 03, 2007 Agence France-Presse A US air strike destroyed two large buildings south of the Iraqi capital used to make and store explosives. "Ground forces called in for air support when they found large amounts of chemicals and improvised-explosive-device making materials in two buildings," in the town of Arab Jubur, south of Baghdad,  the military said today. Since the launch of a massive security operation in Baghdad in February, Iraqi and US troops have reduced execution-style killings in the capital, but car bombings carried out by suspected Sunni militants remain a major headache. In a bid to stop the flow of explosives into the city, the military is now focusing on detecting bomb-making facilities, which are believed to be largely located on the outskirts of Baghdad.

14) Spartan Chassis' expertise helps keep soldiers safe By Barbara Wieland: Lansing State Journal (Michigan)

A new combat truck with a V-shaped bottom designed to withstand blasts from roadside bombs is performing with such success in Iraq that the U.S. military wants more. That is good news for Spartan Motors Inc., the Charlotte company building part of its future on military work.For the past two years, Spartan has been helping with the development of mine-resistant vehicles built on V-shaped chassis - the underpinnings of a vehicle. That shape is designed to deflect explosions, protecting the soldiers inside the vehicle.And the vehicles apparently do their jobs very well. Capt. Jeff Landis, spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., said no Marine has died while in one of the trucks."This is the best vehicle available for safety and survivability," he said. "The MRAP vehicle supplies troops with the greatest protection we've had."That's the best compliment Spartan could receive, said Richard Schalter, president of Spartan Chassis, a Spartan Motors subsidiary.Spartan Chassis was tapped to do subcontract work on the mine-resistant vehicles through an arrangement with Force Protection Industries in Ladson, S.C."We're very pleased that they are performing so well," he said. "They're performing well enough in the field that they're saying they need more."Spartan was awarded a $16.4 million subcontract last month. It will build chassis and components for 155 military vehicles - 80 Category I 4x4 units and 75 Category II 6x6 units.About 200 prototypes of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected, or MRAP, vehicles have been deployed in Iraq since 2004, Landis said. Force Protections built the prototypes.Within the past few months, the Pentagon awarded about $210 million in contracts to Force Protection, Oshkosh, Wis.-based Oshkosh Truck Corp. and three other companies in the United States and Canada to manufacture nearly 400 more vehicles. Landis said the military hopes to receive them by the end of the year. These days, work for the armed forces accounts for about 20 percent of Spartan Chassis' sales. In addition to the MRAP subcontract, Spartan builds chassis for the Cougar military vehicle and BAE Systems' ILAV military vehicles..The success of Spartan's military program might herald even more growth.

The key to the MRAP vehicle's success is the truck's V-shaped steel body, which flares like the hull of a boat, Oshkosh Truck spokesman Joaquin Salas said."The shape channels the full force of a blast up the sides of the vehicle rather than through the floor," Salas said. "It's all physics. Vehicles with that shape are extremely effective."Since the war began, more than 3,160 U.S. service members have died in Iraq. Roadside bombs account for 70 percent of U.S. deaths and injuries in Iraq, according to Defense Department records and testimony. The Pentagon has been criticized for supplying insufficient armor for Humvees, the standard vehicles used for transport.The military has since fitted thousands of Humvees with additional armor. But most of the surfaces on a Humvee's underside are flat, creating a large area that catches the force of land mine blasts.The new vehicles also have tires that can be driven on even when flat.Commanders in Iraq originally said the military would need 4,100 mine-resistant vehicles, but they raised their request to 6,738 in mid-February after seeing how well the trucks protected occupants, Landis said. Those requests are subject to approval by Congress.In addition to Force Protection and Oshkosh, the other contractors are Protected Vehicles Inc. of North Charleston, S.C.; a unit of Great Britain's BAE Systems PLC; and General Dynamics Land Systems, a unit of Falls Church, Va.-based General Dyamics Corp.The trucks come in three categories, from the small - a 7-ton truck that holds six passengers - to the colossal - a 22 1/2-ton mammoth that carries 12 passengers. By comparison, Detroit auotmaker General Motors Corp.'s Hummer H3 weighs about 3 tons and a military tank around 71 tons.

15) Iraq Report: Kirkuk, DeBathification and around Iraq

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2007/04/iraq_report_kirkuk_debathifica.asp Daily-Iraq-Report-Logo-thumb.jpgWeekly Standard Magazine. There have been no major attacks inside Baghdad since the suicide bombing in the Shia market on March 29. The Iraqi government has eased the curfew in the capital as security is seen to have improved since the commencement of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid February. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been striking at the seams as U.S. and Iraqi forces move forces from the provinces to secure Baghdad. The attacks in Khalis, Tal Afar and Kirkuk are directed at gaps in security, and are designed to stir up ethnic tensions. In a press briefing this morning, a spokesman from the Iraqi government announced that operations modeled after the Baghdad Security Plan will occur in both Mosul and Diyala. Kirkuk has been a target for al Qaeda over the past week. Since the announcement to "relocate and compensate thousands of Arabs who moved to Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein's campaign to push out the Kurds" by the Iraqi government on March 31, al Qaeda is working to ignite the violence in the city. On April 2. A suicide truck bomb killed 12 and wounded over 150 civilians. On April 3, another suicide truck bomber struck a police station and killed 13, including 10 civilians, 2 Iraqi police and a U.S. soldier, and wounded 180 civilians, 17 Iraqi police and 2 U.S. soldiers. Today, 9 civilians were wounded after 3 roadside bombs were detonated in Kurdish neighborhoods of Kirkuk.

The Iraqi government has committed to pressing forward with the reconciliation process, which is vital to cleave the moderate elements of the insurgency from al Qaeda in Iraq. The reconciliation process requires economic incentives, the reformation of the legislative system and a change in the controversial "De-Baathification laws" which excluded anyone that was a member of the Baath party from working with the government. Sistani's spokesman "stressed that his office had warned before of relying on statements linked to His Eminence Mr. Sistani without being documented and sealed by the office." On the economic front the Iraqi government has allotted $92 million to development projects and emergency aid to the northern province of Niwena. A similar aid package was granted to Anbar province after Prime Minister Maliki and General Petreaus visited Ramadi. Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to conduct operations against al Qaeda and insurgent groups. Today, Coalition captured 9 al Qaeda during raids in Mosul, Habbaniyah and Karma. On April 3, 6 al Qaeda were killed and 13 captured during operations in Fallujah and Al Qaim, near the Syrian border. On April 2, 6 more terrorists were killed and 10 captured in raids in Mosul, Baghdad and Karma. U.S. and Iraqi forces also discovered a terrorist training facility and large weapons cache in the Diyala River Valley. On April 1, Iraqi police captured 9 insurgents in Lutifiyah, while Coalition forces captured 4 al Qaeda and killed 1 terrorist "while conducting an operation near the Syrian border." A four day operation in Arab Jabour has resulted in 8 insurgents killed and 13 captured, and the discovery of multiple weapons caches, which included 6 DShK anti-aircraft heavy machineguns.

Operations against the Mahdi Army continue as well. On March 31, Iraqi Special Forces captured two members of the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. On April 1, Iraqi police arrested a suspect "alleged to be responsible for weapon smuggling and improvised explosive devices activities" in Kut in the South. The U.S. is shying away from labeling them as Mahdi Army fighters, however, as it is taking advantage of the split between Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army to peal away significant elements of his support base. The signs of the cracks in Sadr's organization continue to appear. Sadr has dismissed two politicians "for meeting the occupiers."

16) General Petraeus Goes to Market By Maj. Kirk Luedeke http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom2/FrontPage%20Stories/General%20Petraeus%20Goes%20to%20Market.aspx Central Command

BAGHDAD, April 4, 2007 — U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, visited the Dora Market March 31 and saw the significant improvements made there since December.“Chai for everyone,” Petraeus exclaimed with a smile as he placed some money on the counter at a small tea shop to buy tea for all who accompanied him on the trip and then some. Later he sipped tea with an Iraqi Army battalion commander and Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, whose unit is responsible for securing the Dora Market area. They discussed the visible progress in what was, just four months ago, a dangerous cluster of ramshackle buildings full of roaming death squads and criminals.Photo: U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, Multi-National Forces - Iraq commander, conducts a tour of the revitalized Dora Market in Baghdad, March 31, 2007. In late December, there were three shops open for business, but on the day of the visit, 141 stores were open. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Kirk Luedeke“This is still not pretty, but it has made substantial strides,” Petraeus said, noting that many of the dilapidated storefronts and houses in and around the market still show signs of the December violence in the once-vibrant economic hub of some 700 stores and kiosks. On Dec. 23, there were three shops left.“There will be challenges here. This is an area that al-Qaeda continues to go after because it does represent success for the Sunni Arabs, and they (al-Qaeda) don’t want to see cooperation with the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces,” Petraeus said. The market now has 141 stores and stands open for business, with room for many more as the situation improves. Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Forces - Iraq, was a welcome visitor to the market for Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Najm Abdul Wahed Motleq.“I’m very honored to have the general here today to come and observe the situation on the ground here at the market,” Najm said. “This market was dead in the past and brought back to life with our presence here and with coalition forces securing this market.”

Najm’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division has received high marks from its U.S. counterparts for its professionalism and willingness to take on the responsibility of securing the market.“They’ve done a great job and have taken ownership for the market,” said Capt. Ben Jones, whose Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment shares responsibility for security with the Iraqi Army. The Fort Carson, Colo.-based unit is attached to the 4th Brigade. Jones, a native of Meridian, Miss., and his rifle company have set up shop in the market, establishing a combat outpost that his unit, nicknamed the Gators, affectionately calls “the swamp.” “People are coming back,” Jones said. “You talk to the people here, and a lot of them send their women to the market because they’re afraid to go out.” He described a dynamic that he and hissoldiers, along with the troops of the Iraqi Army, are working diligently to change. By occupying the first such combat outpost of several for his battalion, the Alpha Gators hope that their daily presence and professionalism will lead to trust between them and Dora’s population. Gibbs said the Dora Market is only the beginning of productive inroads planned in Southern Baghdad.“We have over 50 projects across the Rashid District with many more on the way,” the Harker Heights, Texas native said. “One of those integral to the Dora Market’s revitalization is a fence that will keep the criminals and violent elements out, while allowing the law-abiding merchants and citizens to conduct their business without interference.” As Petraeus continued his tour, he stopped at a kiosk and purchased a tube of toothpaste. “Five dollars for toothpaste,” one bystander asked incredulously. “Anything to help the economy,” Petraeus replied as he handed the cash to the proprietor and moved on, toothpaste in hand.

17) ANBAR DISPATCH: Iraq's Real 'Civil War' http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009900 Sunni tribes battle al Qaeda terrorists in the insurgency's stronghold. International Herald Tribune
BY BING WEST AND OWEN WEST Thursday, April 5, 2007 ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq--Last fall, President Bush, citing the violence in Baghdad, said that the U.S. strategy in Iraq was "slowly failing." At that time, though, more Americans were dying in Anbar Province, stronghold of the Sunni insurgency. About the size of Utah, Anbar has the savagery, lawlessness and violence of America's Wild West in the 1870s. The two most lethal cities in Iraq are Fallujah and Ramadi, and the 25-mile swath of farmlands between them is Indian Country. Imagine the surprise of the veteran Iraqi battalion last November when a young sheik, leader of a local tribe outside Ramadi, offered to point out the insurgents hiding in his hometown. "We have decided that by helping you," he said, "we are helping God." For years, the tribes had supported the insurgents who claimed to be waging jihad. Now, citing the same religion, a tribe wanted to switch sides. Col. Mohammed, the battalion commander, accepted the offer. "The irhabi (terrorists) call themselves martyrs. They are liars," he said. "I lost a soldier and when I pulled off his armor, there was the blood of a martyr." With Iraqi soldiers and Marines providing protection, the sheik and his tribesmen rolled through town, pointing at various men. The sweep netted 30 insurgents, including "Abu Muslim," who was wanted for the murder of a jundi (Iraqi soldier). "He was just standing there waving at us with all the others," one jundi said during the minor celebration at the detention facility. Six months ago, American intelligence reports about Anbar were dire. Although the Marines won the firefights, insurgents controlled the population--the classic guerrilla pattern. Among the groups, the extremists called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had achieved dominance. In 2004, AQI briefly held Fallujah, where they whipped teenagers who talked back, bludgeoned women who wore lipstick and beheaded "collaborators"--hapless passersby and truckers. AQI preached a persuasive message: Our way or the grave. In Anbar, AQI became the occupier, shaking down truck drivers and extorting shop owners. In the young sheik's zone, AQI controlled the fuel market. Each month, 10 trucks with 80,000 gallons of heavily subsidized gasoline and five trucks with kerosene were due to arrive. Instead, AQI diverted most shipments to Jordan or Syria where prices were higher, netting $10,000 per shipment and antagonizing 30,000 shivering townspeople. No local cop dared to make an arrest. The tribal power structure, built over centuries, was shoved aside. Sheiks who objected were shot or blown up, while others fled. In late 2005, acceptably-trained Iraqi battalions began to join the persistent Americans in Anbar. AQI resorted to suicide attacks and roadside bombs, and avoided direct fights. Sub-tribes began to kill AQI members in retaliation for individual crimes, and discovered that AQI was ruthless, but not tough. Near the Syrian border, an entire tribe joined forces with the Marines and drove AQI from the city of al Qaim.

By the fall of 2006 AQI had become the oppressor, careless in its destructive swath, while the American and Iraqi forces persisted with their mix of force of arms and civil engagement. When an AQI suicide car bomb attacked an Anbar market in November, killing a Marine and nine civilians, the Marine battalion commander and his Iraqi counterpart offered medical care at the local clinic for the entire town, including the first gynecological examinations many local women had seen. This was not an isolated event, and the people noticed. With a war-weary population buoying them, 25 of the 31 Anbar sub-tribes have pledged to fight the insurgents over the past five months, sending thousands of tribesmen into the police and army. Led by Sheik Abu Sittar, who has called this an "awakening," the tribes believed they were joining the winners. Politics in Baghdad have swirled around reinstating former Baathists to their prior jobs, thereby supposedly diminishing the insurgency. The central government, though, has given Anbar such paltry funds that jobs are scant, Baathist or not. In Anbar, reconciliation theories count far less than that eternal adage: Show me the money. When the sheiks delivered thousands of police recruits, they consolidated their patrimonial power by providing jobs, plus pocketing a fee rumored at $400 paid by each recruit. The tribal police then provided security that permitted American civic action projects profitable to contractors connected, of course, to the sheiks. Our Congress has just appropriated an emergency supplemental for our troops that included millions to grow spinach and store peanuts; in Anbar, the sheiks are filling potholes that can conceal IEDs. There remain problems that require military solutions, however. Neither the coalition nor the Iraqi government is prepared to imprison the sharp increase in killers like Abu Muslim who are being netted in the surge in Baghdad and the tribal awakening in Anbar. No one wants to take the heat from the mainstream press that would accompany the construction of prisons and the indefinite incarceration of several tens of thousands of insurgents. To the sheiks, it is both naïve and deadly. The Iraqi judicial system in Anbar is nonexistent. Locals are quick to relate stories of killers who returned to murder those who snitched. So it's no surprise that while most insurgents are arrested, some simply disappear. The American command in Anbar has issued a clear order barring support to any unauthorized militia. But guidance from the Iraqi ministries has been vague. If the insurgents have a complaint, they can take it up with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In recent weeks, al Qaeda has struck back with suicide bombers, blowing up a Sunni mosque in the young sheik's area, killing 40 worshipers, and then detonating a series of chlorine truck bombs in residential neighborhoods outside Fallujah. They hope that if they murder random groups of women and children, the tribes will fall back in line. These tactics have locked AQI in a fight to the death against the tribal leaders. It reflects an enemy who has lost popular support for his jihad, clinging to fear alone. Had any American analyst predicted AQI would attack local Sunnis with weaponized chemicals nine months ago, he would have been laughed at. In itself, the tribal shift is significant but not decisive. The intensity of tribal loyalty varies across the province and is weakest in the cities. While perhaps only a quarter of the males in Anbar heed the orders of the sheiks, their cohesion gives them larger sway. Others will follow their lead, provide tips or stay out of their way. Numerical estimates aren't possible because there has been no systematic effort to identify via biometrics the military-age males in the Sunni Triangle, a gross military error in combating an insurgency. The tribes aren't trained fighters. They occasionally engage AQI in a melee, but they need American or Iraqi soldiers to destroy insurgent bands, especially when holed up in houses that serve as concrete pillboxes. The real value of the tribes lies in providing specific information and recruits for the police and army. The tribes openly acknowledge that it has been the personal behavior, strength of arms and persistence of the American forces that convinced them to join the fight. "The American coalition is the only thing," Sheik Abureeshah of Ramadi said, "that makes the Iraqi government give anything to Anbar." The tribes want their share of oil revenues, more power and a cut of the American contracts. With American combat forces likely to leave within a year or two, it is the Iraqi Government that must determine the modesty of the demands. But to put the state of the province in perspective, six months ago the head of Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, told the Congress that "Anbar was not under control." Last week the U.S. commander in Anbar, Maj. Gen. Walt Gaskin, said he was "very, very optimistic." Gen. David Petraeus, the top general in Iraq, recently persuaded Mr. Maliki to visit Ramadi and meet with the tribes. That was the start of the bargaining. The Iraqi government faces a classic risk-versus-reward calculation. The reward is that the tribes will provide the information, recruits and local policing that shrinks the area where AQI operates. With less area to search, the Iraqi Army can concentrate wherever al Qaeda tries to rest or regroup, eventually drying up the swamp. The risk is that, if the Shiite-dominated government refuses reasonable terms, the tribes use their military muscle to reach a truce with AQI and the province reverts. Baghdad is the critical battleground. But it is only in Anbar that the Congress agrees with the president that U.S. forces must combat the AQI terrorists. The tribes will learn to play that card to keep pressure on the central government not to neglect them. Civil war between the Sunni tribes and the extremists has broken out in Anbar Province, the stronghold of the insurgency, and the U.S. and Iraqi government should support it. Anbar is like the American West in the 1870s. Security will come to towns in Anbar as it came to Tombstone--by the emergence of tough, local sheriffs with guns, local power and local laws.

18) Iraqi Police Graduates Key to the Future http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom2/FrontPage%20Stories/Iraqi%20Police%20Graduates%20Key%20to%20the%20Future.aspx Central Command

By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith 3 April 2007 BAGHDAD – Recruits of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division graduated from training at Forward Operating Base Falcon, March 28. This is the first group of “shurta,” Arabic for police, to come onto a U.S. forward operating base and receive complete, 24-hour-a-day training by a National Police Training Team. Photo: Staff Sgt. Andrew Palmer, a trainer with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Brigade National Police Training Team from Charlotte, N.C., makes adjustments to a recruit’s prone firing position during pre-marksmanship instruction in Baghdad, March 24. In addition to marksmanship, recruits also trained on drill and ceremony, ethics, and physical fitness. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs)Capt. Scott Hubbard, the operations officer of 3-6 NPTT from Vassar, Mich., said the initial focus of the team was not to train.“Immediately when we took this mission on, we noticed the biggest problem was that they (Iraqi National Police) were not trained,” Hubbard said. “Training is not what we thought we would do, but we had to put a huge band-aid on the situation so they would not endanger themselves or the coalition forces they are working with.“Our job is to teach them to teach themselves.”Hubbard said that after noticing the initial deficiencies, the team came up with a two-week training program that would empower the police to perform their primary mission of protecting the neighborhoods.The training program includes weapons marksmanship, drill and ceremony, physical training and ethics classes. Once the recruits execute those tasks to standard they move on to team exercises such as precision room clearing and conducting raids.The trainers, who prepared for their deployment at Fort Riley, Kan., all have some form of experience training U.S. Soldiers, from reserve drill sergeants to instructors in advanced individual training. Likewise, many of the recruits have prior experience in the Iraqi army.Abd Al-Ameer Kadum, a graduate from the class who also served in the Iraqi army since the Iran-Iraq War, said he appreciated the training.“During this time that we spent here on this (base), we got good training,” the Baghdad native said. “They care about us a lot. We want to say thanks for our American brothers.”Hubbard said instructing the recruits was made easier due to the fact that they embraced a key element in training: discipline. Discipline is embraced by the Iraqi people, the operations officer said. This cultural attitude motivated the shurta to do their best in training.
“The men were excited and very proud to get formalized training like this,” he said.
One of the key points Hubbard said he wanted the new police officers to take away from their training cycle is how to treat the Iraqi people.“The way they treat them as policemen will decide whether (local residents) go against the Iraqi government or if they come on board,” he said. “These people are here to protect them and they need to understand that.” Hubbard said that police staying involved with their local community is vital to the success of their mission.“They need to embrace their community, and start doing the right thing from this day forward,” he said. “I believe that they’re ready to do that. They understand this is the key to victory.”

19) Iraq extends new security drive

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6528095.stm BBC NEWS

Iraq says it is extending the current security drive beyond Baghdad to areas outside the capital. Efforts to bring the security plan to the northern city of Mosul began on Tuesday, officials said, and Baghdad's outskirts would also be targeted Officials have expressed optimism about reduced sectarian violence in Baghdad, and have decided to ease the curfew. But the US military said car bombs were a major concern and nationwide the scale of violence was worse than hoped. On Tuesday, gunmen abducted 22 shepherds from the desert near the central city of Karbala. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Operation Fardh al-Qanoon was now in place in Mosul. "The efforts are now extending beyond Baghdad to provide peace and security to other provinces," he said. Mr Dabbagh said security improvements in Baghdad meant that from Wednesday the daily curfew had been eased by three hours and now applied between 2200 and 0500 (1800 GMT to 0100 GMT). "Security is improving and we now also plan to lift concrete barriers in some areas to facilitate movement of people," he said. The US has this year brought in about 30,000 more troops to bolster the security drive. US military spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell said sectarian killings in the capital were down 27% in March compared to February. But he said car bombings were still a major concern, with hundreds dead in the past week. "There has been a drop in overall casualties within Baghdad," Gen Caldwell said. But he added: "When you look overall at the country at large you have seen... not a great reduction that we had wanted to see thus far." US President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki discussed the situation by videoconference on Monday. Mr Bush reportedly expressed concern that two unexploded suicide vests had been found near a rubbish bin inside Baghdad's security Green Zone. An Iraqi official said Mr Maliki told Mr Bush this was expected as "some politicians are involved in terrorism". Separately, Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr reportedly fired two senior members of his movement who failed to walk out of a dinner once the US military chief Gen David Petraeus arrived. One of the men, Salam al-Maliki, denied they had been sacked but the other, Qusai Abdul-Wahab, confirmed it. Both were representing the Sadr movement in parliament.

20) Latest in Baghdad: More heavy Armor on the Streets http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/04/baghdad_report_heavy_armors_in.php

“Evacuate all houses in the area around the Americans’ base for we shall attack it soon… Those occupiers will soon be gone from this land. Who will protect you then?”These were roughly the words in a leaflet the “mujahideen” distributed in Adhamiya a few days ago. A distant relative who lives there received one.This message reveals that terrorists and insurgents were planning attacks on some of the joint security stations that American and Iraqi forces have established in that section of Baghdad. And, in fact, one such attack happened just this morning. The news reports here said that a joint security station (or JSS) was attacked with a car-bomb. The location was given as Sadr city though, not Adhamiya. Around Baghdad today, there’s a notable increase in the presence of armored vehicles on the streets, — and I mean heavy armor. Humvees are usually everywhere. Stryker vehicles come second and are more occasionally spotted. The much more serious Bradley’s and tanks are usually quite rare, but today they too are abundant particularly in Rasafa, the eastern half of the Baghdad.We’ve witnessed patrols of three to four Bradley vehicles rumbling through the streets; at times passing the same street more than a few times. Exactly what this increase in activity portends is always difficult to know until afterwards. The security forces do not share their motives and movements beforehand.The Iraqi army too has deployed a number of tanks to reinforce some of the major checkpoints around town. My father reported he saw a few tanks added to the bunch of BMP’s that usually group on station at a large checkpoint on the main highway in eastern Baghdad.An intensified and reinforced security cordon was also visible today around Adhamiya, as well as the adjacent neighborhoods of Raghiba Khatoun, Seleikh and Qahera.Meanwhile in western Baghdad the Iraqi forces continue adding concrete walls around hot neighborhoods such as Amiriya and Ghazaliya. The walls were to complete the sealing in of these areas. They also function to separate them from adjacent neighborhoods with only one or two guarded entrances that “allow better control on traffic and deny freedom of movement to terrorists” according to an Iraqi officer.Perhaps among the most significant successes recently made by the troops was the discovery and destruction of bomb-making facilities in Arab Jubour with an air strike.Throughout the city it is widely believed that this area of farms and palm grooves is where many car-bombs are made and sent to Baghdad. The report on the Arab Jubour action states that the destroyed facilities contained large amounts of bomb-making components. It suggests that this reduction in resources will reduce the terrorists’ access to explosives as well as reducing their ability to distribute their deadly bombs as frequently as they have so far.

In Mosul to the north the governor, Duraid Kashmoula, announced that Nineveh province has just launched its own “Imposing Law” operation. Kashmoula did not give many details and did not state whether additional Iraqi or coalition troops were either provided or requested to assist in conducting the operation. Finally Baghdad’s seen a reduction of curfew hours in Baghdad from 10 to 7 (10pm to 5 am instead of 8pm to 6am). Nothing indicates this is related to a change in the security situation. It’s apparently an adjustment to the daylight saving change that became active 2 days ago. But it’s good the government acted quickly. Otherwise it would be awkward to have a “nighttime curfew” that begins before it’s actually dark.This morning Al-Sabah published a report in which they interviewed some Baghdadis who talked about their experience with the security operation. The people intrviewed said they felt the operation is softening up and had begun to loose momentum.I don’t agree with that take. The developments on the ground and the increased presence of armor actually indicate the troops are still very alert, if not even planning for more action. But still, maybe those Baghdadis live in neighborhoods where they see different things than I do, or perhaps it’s just that people tend to get used to what they see everyday. As in many things in this life during wartime, what you see as unusual a month before, today becomes just a routine, usual scene. And in Baghdad these days, any increase in security just leaves you wanting more.

21) AIR STRIKE DESTROYS EXPLOSIVES FACTORIES IN ARAB JABOUR April 2, 2007 MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ

http://www.mnf-iraq.com703.270.0320  Release A070402b
BAGHDAD, Iraq – A Coalition Forces air strike destroyed two buildings housing  large caches of explosives materials in Arab Jabour Monday afternoon. While searching the targeted building, ground forces discovered large amounts of chemicals and improvised explosive device-making materials. Coalition Forces called in for air support to destroy the buildings to prevent the material from being used against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi military and Coalition Forces in the future.“No civilians were hurt during the demolition of these buildings,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.  “A careful analysis was conducted prior to the strike, and every possible precaution to avoid unnecessary collateral damage was taken.”

22) New Iraqi Army Divisions being created- Fourth Rail blog

Significant changes to Order Of Battle http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/04/iraq_security_forces_1.php

• Iraqi Support Command (SUPCOM) The Iraqi Military has create a Support Command headquarters (SUPCOM) that is based in Baghdad to provide National level command of the National Support Depot at Taji and the Regional Support Units (RSUs) in Al Kasik (Mosul), Habbaniyah, Kirkuk, Nasiriyah, and Numaniyah The RSUs and National Depot support the Iraqi divisions in their sectors. A National Maintenance Depot will form this summer.

• Two new divisions are forming. The Iraqi security froces are forming two new divisions: the 11th Iraqi Army Division, which will be based out of Kirkuk, and the Rusafa Area Command, which will be based in east Baghdad. The final organization of these Divisions is unclear.

• The 11th Division is currently forming and will consist of at least two infantry Brigades, each with three infantry battalions and Brigade Special Troops Battalion. The 11th Division will also have a Special Troops Battalion, a Motor Transport Regiment, a Base Support Unit (Battalion) and an Engineer Battalion.

• The Rusafa Area Command (RAC) will be a joint Iraqi Army and Iraqi National Police division based out of Samarra. While the makeup is still unclear, it appears the RAC will absorb the 2nd Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Iraqi National Police Division plus a new Joint MP Brigade that may be the template for all of the brigades of RAC. The division will likely have a Special Troops Battalion, a Motor Transport Regiment, a Base Support Unit (Battalion) and an Engineer Battalion.

23) General Caldwell talks with Bloggers: “Progress being made”

http://time-blog.com/real_clear_politics/2007/04/report_from_iraq_1.html

Yesterday I took part in the Defense Department's Roundtable, a weekly event that allows members of the new media to talk directly with defense officials. Wednesday's spokesman was Major Gen. William Caldwell, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects in Iraq. Printed below are some interesting parts of the discussion. Real Clear Politics Blog

RCP: I was wondering if you could shed any light on when you are going to start getting worried about a lack of funds.

Gen. Caldwell: You know, it's interesting you asked that question. I just walked out of a press conference that we do -- we started to do at least one a week over here. That question was not even asked, and I really had anticipated that probably being a primary question.

It's interesting. I link up with you all, and you all -- right away, that's the one thing that -- (laughter) -- and I'll tell you, if you watch the debate back in the United States, you know, I'm an Army guy. My chief of staff, you know, taking off my Joint hat, the chief of staff of the Army back there has stated that, he's been very clear on when that's going to start having an impact on the United States Army. And that's relatively soon, according to him. And I think he has always been a very straightforward caller, like no-nonsense kind of guy. So I would put a lot of credence into whatever he said back there.

Again, I don't know because I'm not back there. But I can tell you from over here, it's going to have an immediate impact in the sense that the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq element that we have is charged with building, equipping, helping to develop the Iraqi security forces, and that is going to have an impact on them. Now to what degree? You know, we can get into a lot more specifics, but they are already starting to feel the effects of not having this funding.

Again now, from the U.S. combat forces on the ground, it has not had an impact on us. We still have what we need to conduct our operations. But MNSTC-I, which is charged with, the Title X responsibilities associated in very simplistic form with the Iraqi security forces -- it does have an impact today and will only get more pronounced with time.

Victoria Coates: Just to follow up on that quickly, the idea of the Iraqi Security Force bearing the immediate brunt of the funding lack -- I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about their performance over the last two months, and how integral they've been to the Baghdad security operation, and how effective you think you can be if their readiness starts to deteriorate.

Gen. Caldwell: I've been here almost a year now. And I can tell you that from a year ago when I first got here to now, and I'm out, you know, every week someplace, having the ability to get out and go around the country -- that, you know, they continue to get better all the time.
From better equipment, more capable leadership and the quality of their young soldiers as they develop the professionalism inside their force, it's going to still take time, but is beginning to take hold. Obviously, they're not going to be anywhere near the capabilities and the professionalism of our force any time soon, but they're moving forward, which is the important thing, and they are getting better all the time. Obviously, we count on them very much. As part of this Fard al-Qanun, they brought into the city about 4,500 extra troops, nine battalions, with some headquarters, but they brought in nine additional infantry battalions. And again, when I go back a year ago, the idea of even trying to move one Iraqi battalion was unheard of. About six months ago, if we attempted to move Iraqi army battalions, it was a significant challenge and we were not always successful; and when we did move them, it was very painful and it was unsustainable. Today they've moved nine battalions into the city, as they said they would. They got them there. They've come in at varying levels of overall strength, some very good, some needing additional troops brought in to bring it up to strength. But they've moved all nine, and they're already starting to work the plans on how they would do the rotation out of those nine and bring nine more in. I mean, that is just an incredible step forward, to have developed that capability over the last year from non-existent last year this time to today they've moved nine in and they're going so far as now talking about rotating those nine in and out, which is just an incredible step forward for them to have that planning, discussions, mapping it out and then going and executing it. Obviously, we would like to see the Iraqi security forces continue to grow and develop. There's plans on the shelf, as you know, to kick it up. You know, the prime minister has some initiatives out there that he's going to grow the size of the Iraqi security forces, and that's all been funded and planned for, and everybody's moving out on that.

24) U.S. Airmen Help Iraqi Air Force Fly

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,130549,00.html Air Force News

KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq -- The Iraqi air force is taking off once again with the help of U.S. Air Force Airmen who serve with the Coalition Air Force Transition Team in Iraq. "The Iraq Army is matured, and they are almost ready to carry out operations without the U.S. Army," said Col. Gary Kirk, CAFTT training advisor to the IAF. "However, the air force started (rebuilding) later, and this will take longer." At Taji Air Base, Iraqi airmen recently took delivery of several refurbished helicopters, and Kirkuk Air Base is about to receive new aircraft at the end of March. With new aircraft coming into the IAF inventory, expectations can get ahead of training. However, the proper steps will be followed to make sure all qualifications are met before actual missions are flown. The four squadrons in the IAF perform different missions throughout various regions of the country. Their missions depend on the needs of their geographic locations and the type of aircraft assigned to each squadron. At IAF Squadron 70 in Basra and IAF Squadron 3 in Kirkuk, Iraqi airmen fly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over oil pipelines and other areas of interest, all the while keeping an eye out for insurgent activity. "They protect the oil pipelines and infrastructure, and perform general counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering," said Maj. Gary Lyles, CAFTT intelligence and surveillance program manager. "They have the game plan, and now they are starting to run with the ball." At IAF Squadron 23 located at New Al Muthana Air Base in Baghdad, Iraqi airmen fly C-130E aircraft missions to deliver troops and cargo in support of the Iraqi government. As the largest and most seasoned IAF squadron, Squadron 23 has about 45 aircrew, 120 maintenance and 130 support personnel assigned. "The C-130 program is the most advanced," said General Hoog. "It's been in place for two-and-a-half years, and we've been training Iraqi pilots side-by-side with our Air Force advisers. They fly each and every day doing cargo missions, and they are already flying troops in from Basra and Irbil." Squadron 23 originally stood up at Ali Base in 2005 and moved to Baghdad about a year ago. The unit's aircrew members were first sent to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., for initial training before returning to Iraq. Now they are training their own recruits. At Taji Air Base, home of IAF Squadrons 2, 4 and 12, helicopters are flown. These units' Iraqi airmen are advised by the largest military transition team in the CAFTT program. Squadron 12 has three flying squadrons, operating Bell 206 Jet Rangers, UH-1HP Huey II's and Mi-17 helicopters. Squadron 12 trains Iraqi helicopter pilots in the Bell 206 Jet Ranger. Over the past six months, five Iraqi student pilots flew solo in the Jet Rangers and logged more than 188 combat hours, including three aerial reconnaissance missions Huey II helicopters, gifted from Jordan in 2003, and completely retrofitted at a plant in Alabama, are flown by Squadron 2. Aircraft were delivered last month and have logged more than 62 flying hours. The Hueys have completed five operational missions, including the first operational test and evaluation mission and the first distinguished visitor transport missions for the new IAF helicopter wing. Squadron 4 received delivery of the Mi-17 aircraft and have logged 67 flying hours, including two operational missions. They are training to perform air transportation missions later this year.

25) US, Iraqi forces sweep into Shiite city south of Baghdad before dawn

By BUSHRA JUHI 06 April 2007 (AP Worldstream) http://www.iraqupdates.com/p_articles.php/article/16243

Iraqi forces backed by American soldiers swept into a troubled, predominantly Shiite city south of Baghdad before dawn Friday, and the U.S. military said as many as six militia fighters had been killed.

Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a U.S. military spokesman, said between three and six militia fighters had been killed, eight were wounded and five detained. There were no reports of civilian casualties in the assault on Diwaniyah, code-named "Operation Black Eagle," he said. Residents reported heavy fighting between the U.S. and Iraqi forces and gunmen of the Mahdi Army militia. The powerful cleric, who reportedly ordered his militia to disarm and stay off the streets during the Baghdad security crackdown, now in its eight week, has nevertheless issued a series of sharp anti-American statements, demanding the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Dozens of people have been killed in Diwaniyah over the past weeks and the attacks have been blamed by residents on the Mahdi Army. Many women, accused by the hard-line and fundamentalist militiamen of violating their interpretation of Islamic morality, are among the dead. Also targeted have been police, residents who work for coalition forces at a nearby Polish army base, journalists and the wealthy, who have been kidnapped for ransom then killed. The military said the assault on the city, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Baghdad, was led by Iraqi soldiers of the 8th army division backed by U.S. paratroopers of the 25th Infantry Division. The US military released a statement announcing that Operation Black Eagle had been launched in Diwaniyah, involving Iraqi forces supported by US troops. "The decisive actions taken by the 8th Iraqi Army Division is just the beginning of the government's plan to re-establish security in the area and create an environment where the government can improve the quality of life for the people of Diwaniyah," said US commander Colonel Michael Garrett, whose unit is assisting in the operation. On Wednesday Iraq said that Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing Law), launched in Baghdad in mid-February, was being extended to other flashpoint regions. The plan was introduced in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday. Friday's clashes in Diwaniyah left one person dead and 19 wounded, said Hamid Gaati, head of the local department of health, and a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity. At least 1,400 Iraqi soldiers arrived from neighboring towns such as Kut, Babel and Najaf to raid gunmen's hideouts in Al-Askari, Al-Jumhuri, Al-Iskan in the northern parts of Diwaniyah, an Iraqi military officer said. Iraqi troops were supported by US helicopters and ground forces, he added. All entrances to Diwaniyah were sealed off until further notice "to help us to carry out security plan Black Eagle to impose the law," said an Iraqi security source in the city.

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