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Archive for February, 2009

Obama Praises Troops, Families Who Bear Burden of Sacrifice

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 27, 2009

Obama Press Conference

Obama Press Conference

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2009 – As President Barack Obama today set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, he praised the military troops and families who have volunteered to “bear the heaviest burden.”

Addressing an audience at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., the president praised the work of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq who have contributed to a substantial drop in overall violence, dealt al-Qaida a “serious blow” and bolstered Iraqi security forces.

“You make up a fraction of the American population, but in an age when so many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly, so many of you did the opposite,” he said. “You volunteered to bear the heaviest burden.”

Nearly six years into Operation Iraqi Freedom, Obama today set the time line for significantly drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq for the end of August 2010.

“America’s men and women in uniform, so many of you, have fought block by block, province by province, year after year to give the Iraqis this chance to choose a better future,” he said. “Now we must ask the Iraqi people to seize it.”

Obama said the situation in Iraq has improved in large part because of the service and sacrifices made by troops and their families. But he added that the war does not end upon a service member’s return home.

“It lives on in the memories of your fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gave their lives. It endures in the wound that is slow to heal, the disability that isn’t going away, the dream that wakes you up at night, the stiffening in your spine when a car backfires down the street,” he said.

Obama said it’s now the responsibility of a grateful nation to carry out its duty to U.S. service members and their families. This obligation underlies Obama’s decision to allocate funding in his budget proposal to increase the size of the Army and Marines to lessen the burden on those serving, he said.

In the same vein, he also has requested funding to expand veterans health care, continue building wounded warrior facilities across America and make advances in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“We also know that service does not end with the person wearing the uniform,” said Obama, noting that his wife, Michelle, has learned firsthand about burdens borne by military families. “I want you to know this: Military families are a top priority for Michelle and me, and they will be a top priority for my administration.”

While the United States has engaged in debates about the war in Iraq, there should be no disagreement on what the men and women of our military have achieved, the president said.

“We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government and you got the job done,” he said. “And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement. That is the prospect that you have made possible.”

Obama added that each member of the armed forces has his or her own story, which is part of the greater history of the United States.

“America is a nation that exists only because free men and women have bled for it, from the beaches of Normandy to the deserts of Anbar, from the mountains of Korea to the streets of Kandahar,” he said. “You teach us that the price of freedom is great. Your sacrifice should challenge all of us, every single American, to ask what we can do to be better citizens.”

Obama acknowledged the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also highlighted Marines from Camp Lejeune deployed with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force in Afghanistan and the 8,000 Marines preparing to join the fight in Afghanistan.

“We have you in our prayers. We pay tribute to your service. We thank you and your families for all that you do for America,” he said. “And I want you all to know that there is no greater honor or greater responsibility than serving as your commander in chief.”


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USS Ronald Reagan

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 27, 2009

Ronald Reagan

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more about "USS Ronald Reagan ", posted with vodpod

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McKiernan On Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 25, 2009

Afghanistan Troop Increase

Afghanistan Troop Increase

by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden American Forces Press Service

Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Feb. 19, 2009) – The commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Wednesday that while he’s pleased with President Barack Obama’s authorization to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, tough times are ahead.

Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, said at a Pentagon news conference that the reinforcement fulfills about two-thirds of his request for additional forces and will provide enough manpower to sustain security through the summer. “Those forces, of course, are aimed at being operational by the highest part of the insurgent fighting season this summer, and to be in place and operational before the projected elections in August of 2009,” McKiernan said.

The additional forces also are needed “to give us a security foundation that will allow the other lines of operations in governance and socioeconomic progress to take place and change what I’ve called a stalemate in the south,” the general said. The additional forces will focus their efforts in the south and along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan to combat insurgents. However, the lack of a strong central government for three decades, combined with high illiteracy and poverty rates and a resilient enemy, doesn’t offer a quick solution for Afghanistan, McKiernan said. “Even with the additional forces, I have to tell you that 2009 is going to be a tough year,” he said. “While this will give us a security foundation, we certainly need additional contributions — civilian capacity-building programs that will enable people in Afghanistan to feel hope and to develop their abilities to take the lead for their governance.”

About 38,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, including about 6,000 reinforcements from the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and a contingent of Marines who arrived last month. Another 19,000 troops from 42 other countries make up the balance of allied efforts there. The 17,000 additional troops are made up primarily of soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Lewis, Wash., and Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The incoming troops, as well as those currently in Afghanistan, can expect a “dual mission,” McKiernan said, noting he asked for a Marine expeditionary brigade and an Army Stryker brigade because of their versatility. He wanted units with counterinsurgency capabilities that also could provide security for the population and partner with Afghan forces, he explained, adding that Afghan border and national police forces need trainers and organizers, which the additional troops also will provide. “[The additional units] are battle-space owners conducting counterinsurgency operations, but they’re also developing capacity and capability in the Afghan policing forces,” he said. “Training and mentoring … will be part of the units’ mission.”

When McKiernan took command in Afghanistan less than a year ago, he requested 30,000 additional forces. Even after the increased U.S. presence takes hold, he still will need 10,000 to 12,000 more, whether they come from allies in NATO or the United States, he said. He told reporters he probably will not ask for any more troops beyond that, but he stressed that the additional forces are not a short-term proposition. “This is not a temporary force uplift. … It’s going to need to be sustained for some period of time,” he said. “I can’t give an exact number of years that it would be, but I’m trying to look out for the next three to four or five years.”

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Navy Ethos

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 24, 2009

Are You Navy Material

Are You Navy Material

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Guantanamo Complies With Geneva Conventions

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – The detention facilities at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, meet all standards of humane treatment and are in compliance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the vice chief of naval operations said today.

Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, vice chief of naval operations, briefs Pentagon reporters on Feb. 23, 2009, about his findings concerning the compliance of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the stipulations contained in the Geneva Conventions. DoD photo by R.D. Ward

Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh was chosen by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to head a team to review and report on the facilities at Guantanamo as part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued Jan. 22.

The review team conducted more than 100 interviews with Joint Task Force Guantanamo personnel over 13 days of investigation in Cuba . The team conducted multiple announced and unannounced inspections of all camps, reviewed paperwork and observed many aspects of daily operations, Walsh said.

“Collectively, we talked to a number of detainees and observed daily activities, including [use of feeding tubes] and interrogations,” Walsh said during a Pentagon news conference.

The team looked at shelter, clothing, food and water, practice of religion, recreation, the detainee discipline system, protections against violence, sensory deprivation and humiliation, human-to-human contact, health care, interrogation and access to attorneys and outside entities. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention prohibits violence to life and person, taking of hostages, outrages upon personal dignity and passing of sentences without judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court.

“From our review, it was apparent that the chain of command responsible for the detention mission at Guantanamo consistently seeks to go beyond the minimum standard in complying with Common Article 3,” he said. “We found that the chain of command endeavors to enhance conditions in a manner as humane as possible, consistent with security concerns.”

The team also recommended ways to improve conditions at the detention facilities. While Obama wants the facility closed by next year, until it does close, conditions must meet all humane standards, Walsh said.

“We do not intend to suggest that these recommendations are items that the department must pursue to satisfy Common Article 3,” he said. “Rather, they are items that we view as consistent with the approach of the chain of command to continually enhance conditions of detention.”

Socialization, or interaction among detainees, is important for the detainees because of the length of time they have been detained, he said. In certain camps, more socialization is needed. The team called for more “human-to-human contact, recreation opportunities with several detainees together, intellectual stimulation and group prayer,” the admiral said.

The review team recommended better health care, and the task force leaders appreciate the role health care plays at the facility, Walsh said.

Finally, as long as the facility remains open, it must have the requisite resources, the admiral told reporters.

“The most significant activity in this regard involves the continued support for camp improvement projects currently under way that affect the ability to provide socialization opportunities,” he said. “Of significant concern is that the department continued to properly resource Guantanamo until every detainee departs.”

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Violence in Iraq Drops to Six-Year Low

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – Violent attacks in Iraq are at their lowest levels since August 2003, a U.S. commander in Iraq said yesterday.

Army Maj. Gen. David Perkins, director for strategic effects at Multinational Force Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad the downtick in violence marks a 90-percent decrease since the surge of U.S. troops began in 2007.

Perkins added that on Feb. 20, no Iraqi civilians were killed or even targeted in attacks.

“This is a very significant event, and we are seeing more and more days like that throughout Iraq,” he said.

Contributing to the improved security are the growing Iraqi security forces, which have increased the size of their ranks from 463,000 last year to 618,000 now – a 25-percent boost.

“It’s not only an increase in the size and numbers, but the capability such as planning, orchestrating these very complicated operations, and then leading throughout the country of Iraq,” Perkins said.

He added that Iraqi forces led and planned security for the countrywide provincial elections last month, in which some 7 million Iraqis participated in balloting that featured 14,000 registered candidates.

“On election day this year, there were no attacks which resulted in any disruption to any of the voting that went on,” Perkins said. “This is in comparison to the last national election period in 2005, where we had hundreds of attacks on election day, with 44 deaths.”

Election results are being widely accepted by victors and vanquished alike, he said.

“If you take a look at emerging democracies, historically, it is generally the second election that is sometimes more difficult than the first election,” the general said. “By the time the second election comes, those who may have to lose power or give up power are not necessarily as excited about doing that.

“But the fact that we’ve had this second election and a very large number of people participating, both as candidates and as voters,” he continued, “shows the enthusiasm that Iraqis have for the democratic process here in Iraq.”

The downturn in violence comes as U.S. forces begin transferring a greater share of power to Iraqi forces in keeping with the status-of-forces agreement that became effective Jan. 1. The agreement between Washington and Baghdad stipulates that American combat forces pull back from cities and villages to major bases by June 30.

“There is no doubt that we will be out of the cities by June, and we are working this day by day,” Perkins said. “And you can see many of these facilities we have already transferred, as well as the upcoming ones, are part of this plan to move out of the cities.”

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Turkey, Singapore Join Efforts to Combat Piracy in Gulf of Aden

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique K. Hilley
Special to American Forces Press Service

AT SEA ABOARD USS VELLA GULF, Feb. 23, 2009 – Turkey and Singapore recently committed forces to join Combined Task Force 151, a naval coalition dedicated to conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Turkey and Singapore will join other nations — including the United States, the United Kingdom and Denmark — that have conducted operations as part of the task force.

“Coalition ships are a critical part of our mission,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, commander of CTF 151, said. “The very nature of some of our operations, as well as the success of those operations, is often predicated on our ability to work effectively with our partners and allies.”

International law obligates all nations to cooperate to the fullest extent in the repression of piracy. Coalition forces have taken action necessary to repress piracy in the region in accordance with international law to ensure free and secure use of the world’s oceans by legitimate mariners, task force officials said.

“The presence of international navy vessels in the region demonstrates our commitment to regional security and stability,” McKnight said. “To continue to counter and deter destabilizing activities successfully, coalition efforts must be complemented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional governments and the international community.”

The task force has worked with and emphasized the important role merchants can play by taking proactive measures to prevent boardings, such as traveling at speeds greater than 15 knots, reporting suspicious activity and pulling their ladders up to prevent access to the ships.

Even with increased naval forces in the region, coalition vessels have not always been close enough to a help a ship that was being attacked.

“The bottom line is that piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution,” McKnight said. “We are committed to continuing operations that counter and deter piracy and other destabilizing activities in the maritime arena to create a lawful maritime order.”

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Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – On location in the Middle of Nowhere, Iraq, filmmaker Jake Rademacher focuses his lens on a unit of young reconnaissance troops with whom he’s embedded.

David Scantling, chief executive officer of private equity firm Scantling Technology Ventures; Producer Norman S. Powell; Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher, actor Gary Sinese and filmmaker Jake Rademacher pose for photos after an advance screening of “Brothers at War,” a film that documents Jake Rademacher’s experience in Iraq as he sought to understand what motivates his two military brothers. The sneak preview took place Feb. 20, 2009, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The film releases at theaters across the country March 13. DoD photo by John J. Kruzel

For five days they wait in the desert near Syria, watching idly for smugglers bringing weapons, cash or foreign fighters across the border. Conversation is the only thing that colors the monotony of the blank horizon.

One soldier says he joined the ranks to make his father proud. Another is confident his duty will benefit posterity. And a crew-cut junior enlisted troop says through a wad of chewing tobacco he’s not sure why wears the uniform.

“If you find out, let me know,” he tells Rademacher.

At the heart of Rademacher’s documentary “Brothers at War” are the kind of open-ended questions many civilians have about what U.S. servicemembers do and why. Using his own family as a microcosm, Rademacher paints an intimate portrait that seeks to understand the commitment and sacrifice attendant to military service.

The Rademacher clan represents a compelling cross-section, with two of Jake’s brothers, Isaac and Joe, serving as active-duty soldiers.

The film follows Jake to Iraq, where he shadows Isaac, a captain in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, on his second deployment in Mosul. Jakes also walks a mile in the shoes of Joe — a 23-year-old staff sergeant sniper and Army Ranger also in the 82nd Airborne — when he joins snipers at “hide sites” in the Sunni Triangle.

The culmination of Rademacher’s multiple journeys to Iraq amounted to 35 interviews, 25 missions and 400 hours of tape, which he distilled into a feature-length film. Brothers at War releases nationally on March 13.

“I wanted to dive right into the front lines,” Rademacher said at the National Press Club here last week after an advance screening of the film. “And I learned about my brothers through their brothers in arms.”

On the home front, the documentary illustrates the effects that repeated deployments have on spouses and children. But the film is far from a social commentary, and there is a distinct absence of a political or moral agenda.

After the Feb. 20 screening, Isaac revealed that Jake’s motivation for making the film was two-fold. He wanted to document Isaac’s life as a memento for his young daughter, Hunter, in case Isaac didn’t return from duty.

Jake also wanted to open the eyes of the American public to the reality of the front lines, Isaac said.

“I’ve never seen anything that shows so much truth and then steps away,” he added.

Gary Sinese, one of the film’s executive producers, attended the screening along with a group of soldiers recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Sinese was eager to sign onto the project after it was screened for him last year, he said.

“Brothers at War presents such a positive depiction of military families,” he said. “It’s a great American documentary that speaks my language.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Pineiro, a liaison for wounded troops recovering at Walter Reed, said he could see the emotion worn on the faces of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers with him at the screening.

“Rademacher did an excellent job representing what the soldiers go through while stationed in Iraq,” Pineiro said. “And you could see it on the faces of the soldiers over here.

“Some of them you could see some emotion, some of them were reliving what they went through over there,” he said. “It was pretty emotional.”

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New Clinics, Schools, Supplies Improve Life for Iraqis

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

On the Ground:
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – In ongoing humanitarian operations, Iraqi and coalition forces recently celebrated the opening of a medical clinic and three schools and delivered wheelchairs to Iraqi children.

lrs_090218-a-8333l-001Lt. Col. Tahseen, right, an Iraqi army commander, and Saad Hamid Schnater, manager of the Adwaniyah Clinic, donate a wheelchair Feb. 18 to the family of a girl with a nerve condition that makes walking painful. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers and their Iraqi partners donated wheelchairs to Iraqi children. U.S. Army photo by Justin Watson

About 30 people gathered for the grand opening of the Tovo Medical Clinic on Feb. 12 in the Kani Karweshkan foothills in Halabja, Iraq.

The clinic, named in honor of Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth Tovo for his past service in Iraq, will be equipped with more than $25,000 of medical equipment and will significantly improve the region’s medical care and provide essential services throughout the Kurdish autonomous region, a coalition forces advisor said.

The clinic provides centrally located access for nearly 500 residents from six surrounding villages to a medical facility and a staff of three full-time doctors.

Potential long-term projects include paving the clinic route to make it more accessible, drilling wells to provide water to the clinic, establishing nearby electrical lines for communication, and expanding clinic services, officials said.

“The opening of this clinic is just one of several planned to promote local participation and demonstrate the government’s commitment to maintaining security while encouraging social and capital development,” Army Col. Bill Buckner, Multinational Corps Iraq spokesman, said. “Projects like this one create short-term benefits and long-term potential consistent with the intended goals of the Iraqi and [coalition forces] partnership.”

People in northern Iraq had more reason to celebrate as regional government leaders there and coalition forces on Feb. 12 inaugurated the first school in the mountainous region of Kani Mayor Village.

The new school supports growing educational needs and serves as a platform for the future economic stability of the Kani Mayor Village and surrounding communities of Panjwin.

“When decent schools are not available for their children, parents have traditionally packed up and moved from their villages to the city. After awhile, due to the exodus of people, the village’s economy begins to suffer,” an area tribal leader said.

“By putting brick on brick, it is proof you are not only protecting our people from terrorists, but also caring for our children’s educational future,” the regional education director said. “Thank you for giving the children a place to study and have a future.”

The modern schoolhouse is fully equipped with five classrooms, two bathrooms, new desks, textbooks and overhead lighting. Additionally, in an effort to attract and retain the most qualified educators, a separate building was constructed to serve as living quarters for the instructors.

Village children expressed sincere appreciation and were happy to leave behind their temporary schoolhouse, a chicken coop loaned from a local farmer.

“It’s nice to finally be rid of that old school and not have to share [my new school] with chickens,” said a 13-year-old girl, who is excited to get back to school and continue her Arabic lessons.

Future improvements include hiring additional instructors, digging a well for the school to have running water and expanding the instructors’ living quarters.

Two more newly refurbished primary school buildings opened in Umm Qasr Feb. 19.

The two U.S.-funded operations, totaling $271,100, outfitted the Al Nashaa and Al Marfaa schools with new paint, windows, electrical systems, plumbing, reconditioned bathrooms, roofs and desks. Local officials, town council members, Iraqi troops, coalition civil affairs representatives, school staff and students were on hand for the opening.

“Today we open this school to be the future light for the students,” said Abu Ali, headmaster of Al Marfaa. “The first three words of the Koran means to ‘read.’ The scripture says it wants everyone to be educated. Education is the duty of every Muslim person.”

Because of poor upkeep, the schools in Umm Qasr suffered from leaky roofs, broken windows, desks that were splintered and falling apart and other structural problems.

“Our main reason for these restorations was to provide the children with a safe learning environment,” Army Sgt. Adam Kirschner, project manager from 42nd Military Police Brigade at Camp Bucca, said.

Kirschner said projects like these are important to the future of Umm Qasr, because the town is growing rapidly due to economic development generated by the country’s only deep-water port.

Seven schools in the area have been refurbished in the last 12 months with help from Kirschner’s unit. Umm Qasr Secondary School is next on the list and should start in about two weeks, he said.

Later this month, soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad and their Iraqi army partners provided a life-changing experience to Iraqi children with the Feb. 18 delivery of more than a dozen new wheelchairs in Adwaniyah.

Seeing that many families could not afford wheelchairs, Iraqi soldiers worked with U.S. troops to acquire and deliver the wheelchairs.

In another humanitarian operation, coalition forces traveled to a small town in the Maysan province of southern Iraq on Feb. 20 to deliver food and household products to 150 families.

The 4th Battalion, 38th Iraqi Army Brigade, led the humanitarian mission, along with U.S. soldiers.

“Many improvements can be made in this area,” said Maj. Ali, an Iraqi army company commander in charge of the mission. “The citizens of Al Maymunah still lack basic necessities, such as clean water and consistent electricity.”

Ali and his unit handed out bulk packages of sugar, flour, beans, soap, toothpaste and hygiene products to the citizens of the impoverished neighborhood. The delivery was one of the largest in several months, as the soldiers also distributed blankets, tarps and more than 300 first aid kits. Children were given hand puppets, teddy bears and comic books.

The assistance comes at a time when many Maymunah residents are living without shelter and a consistent source of income to buy basic necessities.

“I was happy to receive a tarp to cover the holes on my roof,” said Mustafa Jasim, a vehicle repairman. Others told the Iraqi soldiers they would be able to feed their families for several weeks with the supplies they were given.

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Progress In Baghdad Continues On All Fronts

Posted by Larry Barnes on February 23, 2009

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – Almost two months after the new status-of-forces and strategic framework agreements took effect in Iraq, a brigade commander in Baghdad today reported record-low violence as Iraqi security forces assume ever-increasing responsibilities.

“We’ve been constantly amazed at the changes that have occurred in just the last four months since we arrived,” Army Col. Joseph Martin, commander of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, told Pentagon reporters during a video teleconference from Camp Victory, Iraq.

The Dagger Brigade’s 3,800-plus soldiers operate in an area in northwestern Baghdad that Martin said is seeing steady improvement in security, economic growth and building projects.

“Violence is at an all-time low since 2004, with record-low attacks against coalition and Iraqi security forces,” he said.

Two years ago, Multinational Division Baghdad was experiencing 25 attacks a day. The current daily rate is 1.5 attacks. “That’s 5 percent of what it was in January 2007,” Martin said. Martin credited the growing partnership between his soldiers and the 6th Iraqi Division and five Iraqi police districts with ensuring the positive trend has continued.

The Dagger Brigade has embraced the partnership, which was solidified in the security agreement that took effect Jan. 1, Martin said.

“Our role is to fully support and assist our Iraqi counterparts,” he said. “We’re seeing U.S. forces move out of selected sites within Baghdad, transferring them to the Iraqi government ministries or security forces as designated by the government of Iraq.”

As a result, Iraqi security forces are stepping up to the challenge and making steady improvement, Martin reported.

In one of the first major tests of the new arrangement, Iraqi security forces maintained the security lead during Iraq’s provincial elections, with coalition troops in support. The elections proceeded with no noticeable uptick in violence.

But despite this progress, Martin cautioned against declaring victory over the insurgency.

“The enemy is severely disrupted, but still present and evolving,” he said. “And our partner Iraqi forces take nothing for granted when it comes to the security of Iraqi citizens.”

Martin praised his soldiers for their instrumental role in the continued progress. “We can’t thank them enough,” he said. “We can’t train them hard enough. We can’t provide them enough of the best equipment on the face of the Earth, because they are at the heart of the mission every day. They are amongst the Iraqi people, standing guard, on point, on patrol, with their security counterparts, ensuring that every Iraqi has the possibility of a bright future.”

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