The Corner

This Sounds Like Some Good News from Iraq

It’s hard to be optimistic at all about Iraq, but folks on the ground do labor on, and thankfully so. Via the State Department :

Majority of Iraqi Police Trained, Equipped, General Says

(Iraqi army, police security forces, both national and local, called key to

success) (470)

Washington — Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have reached 92 percent of a

planned strength of 188,000 troops, the commander of the coalition’s

Civilian Police Assistant Training Team says.

The Iraqi police included in that total are 90 percent trained and 83

percent equipped, according to Major General Joe Peterson. The National

Police, which used to be called the Special Police, are 98 percent trained

and 92 percent equipped, he continued. Peterson briefed along with Army

Major General William Caldwell, spokesman for Multi-National Force – Iraq,

from Baghdad, Iraq, August 14 via videoconference to the Pentagon.

Also included under the Interior Ministry are Department of Border

Enforcement police, which are now 92 percent trained though just 56 percent

equipped, Peterson said. He explained that the border police lag because

resources have gone more to those forces in contested areas.

“[W]e estimate that all of this will be completed by December of this year

[2006],” Peterson added. “So that’s all on track.”

In his opening remarks, General Caldwell said that the “Iraqi security

forces are the key to the success in this country, both the Iraqi army and

the police forces, both the national and the local. … that is a key

ingredient … for the coalition forces to draw down their presence.”

However, Caldwell continued, the military and police components are not

enough.

“It’s going to take the commitment of the Iraqi government through

governance, through economics and most importantly, the will and

determination of the Iraqi people themselves,” he said.

Caldwell noted that Baghdad needs long-term solutions, and that the

extremists there will be defeated neither easily nor quickly.

“Challenges will ensue, but efforts will march forward block by block,” he

said.

According to Caldwell, what really matters is businesses reopening and

staying open, refurbishing the stalls in the marketplace section by

section, improving drainage, removing rubbish and allowing children on

summer break outside to ride bicycles and play. (See related article .)

Caldwell began the briefing by noting a series of explosions that occurred

August 13 on the Karrada peninsula at the Zaafaraniyah district. In spite

of speculation that the cause was a car bomb, he said, a U.S. explosive

ordnance disposal team examined the site and made a preliminary assessment

that an initial natural gas explosion led to subsequent explosions.

Further investigation is ongoing, Caldwell said, but available evidence so

far points to an internal gas explosion that set off a series of other

explosions at that location...

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