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22 August 2003

Coalition Soldiers Try To Learn from Baghdad Terrorist Attacks

Defense Department Report, August 22: Iraq operational update

Washington -- In the wake of the August 19 attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and the August 7 attack against the Jordanian Embassy in the city, U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Kenneth Preston says, American soldiers serving in Iraq are trying to learn from the techniques and tactics "the enemy has used to conduct these terrorist attacks."

The morale of U.S. soldiers serving as part of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is still high, according to Preston, who spoke to reporters at the Pentagon via video teleconference August 22. These soldiers, he said, "understand the threat and the environment which they work in and, you know, they walk with death every day out on patrols."

Terrorist acts can occur anywhere in the world, Preston said, not only in Iraq, but in places like Afghanistan and Germany. Whenever such an attack occurs, he said, "It's one of those things ... we learn from." Lessons learned are passed back to follow-on troops who will replace those now in Iraq during the next planned rotation, he added.

Preston, of the Army's Fifth Corps, said what the enemy fails to understand is that "the more they attack us, the more fight we'll take to them." The soldiers' resolve is great, he added. Command Sergeant Majors are the most senior non-commissioned officers in the Army and answer directly to their commanding generals about the welfare of the enlisted soldiers.

Asked about the need for additional troops, Preston said the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is working on an initiative that is bringing coalition forces into the theater of operations. In building a team of coalition forces, he noted that many units are already on the ground while others have sent in advance parties, specifically mentioning his recent visit to a division of Polish soldiers. He also expressed a desire to see the new Iraqi Army in place so that it can carry out missions along the nation's borders.

Another participant in the videoconference -- Army Command Sergeant Major Charles Fuss of the 4th Infantry Division -- pointed to training under way with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and said it is going very well. Preston added that the Civil Defense units are being trained to secure Iraq and "to help us to get things under control." He also indicated that the Americans and Iraqis are learning from each other.

Army Command Sergeant Major Michael Bush of the 1st Armored Division, who also took part in the conference, said it is good "for the local population to see Iraqis in there with us going on patrol" -- a joint force of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police officers.

All three spokesmen said logistics in Iraq are improving, but power generation remains an issue.

Meanwhile, CENTCOM reported earlier in the week that Taha Yasin Ramadan al-Jizrawi, the former Iraqi vice president is now in custody. Kurdish forces captured him and turned him in to the 101st Airborne Division.