BAGHDAD — U.S. Army Gen. George Casey, commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq, visited Forward Operating Base Loyalty on Wednesday to hear firsthand from soldiers how American and Iraqi troops are progressing to make the new Baghdad security plan a reality.
The security plan divides Baghdad into nine “security framework districts,” five of which are in east Baghdad, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division’s area of responsibility.
Each district has headquarters at a facility called a joint security station, or JSS, which is staffed by a brigade from either the Iraqi army or the Iraqi national police, and has a U.S. military battalion dedicated in support.
East Baghdad is critical to the plan’s success or failure not only because of its size, but because it is home to one of the most persistent, entrenched and deadly of the militias that are plaguing Iraq’s security: firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi, or Mahdi Army, which is based in Sadr City.
Arriving on a cloudless, briskly cool day in early afternoon and wearing his trademark well-worn leather shoulder harness for his pistol, Casey walked the short distance from the helicopter landing pad to the brigade’s tactical operations center with Col. Jeffrey Bannister, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s commander.
Once inside, the four-star general, who is scheduled to soon succeed the retiring Gen. Peter Schoomaker as the next Army chief of staff, received a classified brief on the 2nd BCT’s responsibilities under the plan, such as which units will support specific Iraqi police or army units, and where that will take place, according to brigade spokesman Maj. Sean Ryan.
After the briefing at FOB Loyalty, Casey climbed into a Humvee and moved with a convoy to visit one of the new JSS buildings in the Karada security district.
The district, which is located in an East Baghdad neighborhood called Zafraniyah, is supported by the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
The Zafraniyah/Karada neighborhood is one of several whose political boundaries were decided as part of the framing of Iraq’s constitution, but now is being realigned and renamed under the security framework plan.