More Independent Iraqi Army Operations
The Iraqi Army conducts two separate battalion sized operation & gain control of a bigger slice of the battlespace
The Iraqi Amy is taking over a larger portion of the battlespace, as well as conducting independent security operations. Major General Richard Lynch recently stated Iraqi Army units are involved in over 70% of the operations, and are conducting 25% of these operations independently.
Jason Vansteenwyk points to slides of the progress of Iraq Army in taking control of regions. The Increase in responsibility from September of 2005 to January of 2006 is significant. And Mr. Vansteenwyk also points out the Iraqi troops are securing the most densely populated regions of Iraq.
Over the past week, Iraqi units have conducted two independent battalion-sized operation in central Iraq. The 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army detained four suspected insurgents in a raid west of Baghdad. The only U.S. participation came from Special Operations Forces, who were acting in an advisory role.
The 2nd Battalion 2nd Brigade, 5th Division of the Iraqi Army arrested 102 suspected insurgents, killed two and uncovered a significant weapons cache in two separate strikes in Diyala Province. The operations were driven by specific intelligence, and 25 insurgents on the Iraqi Army's most wanted list were detained. Again, the only Coalition assistance was in the form of Special Forces advisers. CENTCOM provides additional details on the fighting qualities of an Iraqi sergeant:
During the raid on the first target, an Iraqi Army assault team encountered four armed insurgents when the team began searching a house. Under heavy fire, the assault team exchanged small arms fire with the insurgents but was forced to withdraw outside of the house for cover. But one of the team's sergeants stayed in the house and in the fight, killing one and wounding two of the insurgents before falling back to regroup with his team and assault the house again.Stars & Stripes reports Iraqi soldiers were crucial in saving the lives of ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt. The Iraqi troops reacted to the ambush that followed the bombing of the Iraqi Army vehicle, according to First Sergeant John McFarlane, one of the advisers of the Military Transition Team.
"I had a bunch of jundis kicking ass and taking names," McFarlane said, using the Iraqi word for "private." "I saw hatches being opened and soldiers pouring out and clearing flanks and returning fire in a disciplined manner," Jason said. "We were getting shot at from four different directions and we were walking around - walking around - because the Iraqis had our backs. I thought we were looking at some show for congressmen. It was that perfect."
1stSgt McFarlane and Major Mike Jason also relate their experiences with working with the Iraqi Army.
Both are a little impatient with talk about a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, corruption in the ranks or ties to terrorism, saying it doesn't reflect their experience. Although most of their soldiers are Shiites, much of the leadership is Sunni, and they say the two groups work together well. Although they patrol some Sunni areas, the Shiite soldiers are respectful to that population, the U.S. advisers say.
This matches my experience with the Iraqi Army. While they have far to go before they are mistaken for American Marines or soldiers, the Iraqi troops display a level of proficiency that is not reported in the media. They are learning their soldiering skills under difficult conditions of a brutal insurgency, and will be a better fighting force in the long term because of this.