Iraqi soldiers from the 7th Iraqi Army Division conduct a cordon and search for weapons caches at Al Anbar University in Ramadi, Iraq.NEWSBYTES4th Iraqi Army to take the lead
BAGHDAD (CENTCOM) -- As further evidence to the continued progress of Iraqi security forces, the 4th Iraqi Army Division will officially assume the lead for security operations Aug. 8 in most of Salah ad Din and Kirkuk provinces, previously controlled by units from the 101st Airborne Division.
The handover of forward operating bases and security lead demonstrates the progress being made by the Iraqi security forces, reiterates successes, and highlights the progress of the legitimate Iraqi government as a positive move toward full national sovereignty and self-reliance, said a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman.
This transfer occurs as the Iraqi security force takes charge and shows it is capable of coordinating, planning and conducting security operations with Coalition forces acting in a support role. According to a 101st Airborne Division spokesman, the 4th IAD has demonstrated it is fully capable of assuming security responsibility by taking over security operations in provinces covering major cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk and Samarra.
The 4th IAD is the fifth of 10 Iraqi army divisions to assume security responsibility, which represents the halfway mark of Iraqi divisions assuming responsibility for providing security in their country. In total, Iraqi security forces are in the lead with five Iraqi army divisions, 22 army brigades, and 76 army battalions, and the Iraqi National Police have two battalions, for a total of about 275,000 trained forces.
According to Coalition officials, 48 of 110 Forward Operating Bases have been transferred to the Iraqis; the result of the increased capacity of the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government.
“This (handover) is a brave quest and significant milestone toward garnering security self-reliance for the Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi security force, and the government of Iraq,” said Coalition officials.
According to a fact sheet released by the 101st Airborne Division, “more than 275,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security personnel work every day to protect Iraq and its people. These numbers continue to grow as more troops are scheduled to assume independent control in the coming months.”
As evidence to the 4th IAD’s capabilities, about 3,000 Iraqi security forces, with support from Coalition troops, recently detained 154 terror suspects and seized a large weapon cache during Operation Gaugamela west of Kirkuk.
The 10-day operation was conducted to search for suspected al-Qaida terrorists in and around the cities of Hawaija and Riyadh.
Following a request from local Arab leaders to rid the area outside Kirkuk of terrorists, the 10-day operation - covering 25 cities and villages spanning more than 900 square miles - began with a series of smaller Iraqi Army operations targeting 20 objectives in the Rashad area, southwest of Kirkuk.
Using their own intelligence information, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division planned and conducted the missions, detaining nine terror suspects and seizing a cache of weapons.
"This was the first time the Iraqis in our area have self-sustained during an operation," said Capt. Krista Jekielek, a U.S. logistics representative to the Iraqi security forces. "It was a significant validation, showing they are capable of moving the necessary personnel and supplies required to perform their mission."
Capt. Lyn Graves, an Army spokesman who patrolled Hawija with the Iraqi security forces during the operation, said the Iraqi forces were extremely proficient and professional.
In addition to taking terrorists and weapons off the street, the discipline of the soldiers involved in the mission truly stands out, according to Maj. Greg Bishop, a 1st BCT spokesman.
“The Iraqi and Coalition Soldiers went into two of the most contentious cities in the Kirkuk province, searched hundreds of homes and buildings and detained more than 150 suspects with no violence whatsoever,” said Bishop. “That’s an incredible success and a true measure of the professionalism of everyone involved in the operations.”JOINT STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD & GEN. CASEY ON 4TH IAD HANDOVERMore News from CENTCOMTags: War, Military, terrorism, Middle East, Operation Iraqi Freedom, United States, coalition, photography, photo, photos, pictures, images, photojournalism, Combat Camera, Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, video, audio, CENTCOM, Dispatches from the FrontGlobal Tags: Washington DC, News and Politics, News, Politics, Current Events, Current Affairs, Life, Culture, Tension