Soldiers in Northern Iraq Re-Check Security Procedures
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2003 -- Noting there has not been an increase
in incidents in his area of operations in the last couple of days,
the commanding general of the U.S. Army's 4th
Infantry Division in northern Iraq said he has re-checked procedures
and re-briefed soldiers to help ensure their safety and security.
"(We've) looked at what we're doing in order to make sure we
protect ourselves against vehicle-borne explosive devices as well
as individuals who might have explosive devices on them," Maj. Gen. Raymond T.
Odierno told reporters here today from his headquarters in
Tikrit. "We've also talked to our counterparts in the Iraqi police
force and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to make sure they're prepared
and understand that they are also vulnerable to attack."
The general said he was proud and honored to lead the soldiers
of Task Force Iron Horse. "We've accomplished a tremendous amount
in the last two months," he added.
The progress, added Odierno, comes with a price. "We honor those
heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice to liberate the Iraqi
people, and we carry on with each of them in our hearts. They are
courageous Americans who loved their country and what it stands
for. They will never be forgotten."
Odierno said the task force's soldiers come in daily contact
with terrorists, former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and
common criminals. He said they continue to improve security and
stability by conducting search-and-attack missions and presence
patrols, as well as a series of aggressive operations to "disarm,
defeat and destroy hostile forces as well as capture midlevel former
regime members responsible for organizing anticoalition activities."
Since Sept. 10, Operation Ivy Focus, a series of aggressive offensive
raids to maintain pressure on enemy forces, has resulted in the
capture of 123 midlevel former regime members, 43 improvised
explosive device makers and six financiers, said Odierno.
Soldiers also have seized $1.5 million "suspected of being used
to finance attacks on coalition forces," he added. They have confiscated
340 AK-47 assault rifles, more than 1,000 grenades, 1,340 mortar
rounds, 1,200 blasting caps and 5,000 rounds of various munitions.
A second phase of Ivy Focus -- Commander's Engagement -- includes
developing relationships and dialogues with local civic, religious
and tribal leaders to "promote trust and cooperation," said the
general. More than 800 such engagements have taken place, he said.
As an example, the general cited the task force's support of
Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which includes lifting curfews
to allow Iraqis freedom of travel and increased sensitivity to
local traditions on the part of American troops. The general said
soldiers have been asked not to eat, smoke or drink in front of
Iraqis who are fasting.
Odierno said coalition efforts have resulted in 883 completed
rebuilding projects, with another 105 under way. The projects include
repairing banks, security services, health clinics and hospitals,
water treatment plants, utilities, courthouses and telecommunications.
"We're rebuilt or renovated 480 schools; 96 percent of the hospitals
and health clinics are open; 25 water treatment plants are undergoing
repairs, and power generation has increased 300 percent since the
start of the war," he said.
While progress has been significant, the general said the road
ahead is challenging.
"Our soldiers are professionals," he said. "They will persevere
and complete this mission with the same motivation and dedication
they have displayed from the beginning. Our soldiers will not let
up, and every day we are one step closer to establishing a free
Iraq run by Iraqis."