(by Rowan Scarborough, WashingtonTimes.com) – The U.S. military in Iraq announced yesterday that an Iraqi
ground-forces command will activate in early September, giving the
U.S.-backed government direct control over army, police and border
units throughout the country.
    Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell,
chief spokesman for the U.S. command, said the Iraqi ground
headquarters eventually will take control of all 10 Iraqi army
divisions. The first, the 8th Division, will be moved from coalition to
Iraqi control this week.
    The chain of command will run down
from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to the defense minister, to joint
headquarters in Baghdad, and finally to the Iraqi ground-forces
command. The United States says the emerging line of authority is
crucial to having a self-sufficient Iraqi security force fight the
insurgency and allowing many American troops to go home.
is a significant step in the Iraqi path to self-reliance and security,”
Gen. Caldwell said. “What this means is that the Iraqi minister of
defense is prepared to begin assuming direct operational control over
Iraq’s armed forces.”
    The press conference was part of a
continuing effort by the Bush administration to tell a story that Iraqi
forces are in better shape than they were several years ago, when some
units refused to fight.
    “From the time that I left Iraq last
year to now, the difference between then and now is like night and day
with the Iraqi security forces,” Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, who commands
U.S. transition teams embedded with Iraqi units, told reporters at the
    The talk of progress came as the U.S. and Iraqi
forces continue to fight a crucial battle to take back Baghdad from a
variety of insurgent groups, including al Qaeda in Iraq, Sunni
supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and Shi’ite death squads
linked to the militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
    As he did
last week, Gen. Caldwell displayed a map of the city, with color-coded
neighborhoods to illustrate different levels of violence.
“These slides will show that the insurgents and terrorists are
attacking where we’ve made gains in order to thwart the successes of
the Iraqi security forces and further discredit the government of
Iraq,” he said. “Their methods are simple: Attack innocent Iraqis.”
He added, “We’re actually seeing progress out there. An interesting
sign of progress that has recently been relayed to me is there have
been an unusual number of weddings in the streets of Baghdad recently.”

    There are still reminders that the Iraqi force has problems.
Gen. Pittard confirmed press reports that about 100 Iraqi Shi’ite
soldiers in the south refused to redeploy to Baghdad to fight
insurgents. Some local police officers in the Shi’ite south have
refused to help the Iraqi army fight Sheik al-Sadr’s militiamen.
“I think everybody has got to remember both the Iraqi police and the
Iraqi army are about three years old at the most, and any new
organization is going to go through growing pains,” Gen. Caldwell said.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc.  Reprinted
with permission of the Washington Times.  This reprint does not
constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product,
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1.  Which of the 10 Iraqi army divisions will be moved from coalition to Iraqi control this week?

2.  What needs to happen for many American troops to be able to leave Iraq? 

3.  List the different insurgent groups fighting coalition and Iraqi forces for control of Baghdad.

4.  Describe the insurgents’ methods and motive.

5.  Army Maj.
Gen. William Caldwell describes a sign of progress in Baghdad in
paragraph 10.  What is it and why do you think this is this considered

6.  Critics of the Iraq war say its taking too long.  Do you agree?  Explain your answer.


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