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ARLINGTON, Va. — Thanks to the Baghdad security plan, U.S. troops working in the city’s vast northern sector are dealing with 40 percent fewer roadside bombs these days, their commander, Army Col. Paul Funk, said Friday.

“I used to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 [improvised explosives] a month,” he said. “Now I’m down to less than 65 to 70.”

Funk, who leads the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, spoke with Pentagon reporters in a remote briefing from his headquarters at Camp Taji, Iraq.

He said that the drop has occurred since the 3,800 soldiers of the “Iron Horse” Brigade Combat Team deployed to Taji from Fort Food, Texas, in November 2006.

To date, the brigade has found a total of 330 roadside bombs since formally taking over the sector in the early part of December, Funk said.

Funk said that he believes the reason that his troops are encountering fewer bombs is because “the enemy doesn’t have time to do as thorough a reconnaissance as they used to when they put them in.”

Overall, Funk said, “security in our operating environment is assessed as moderate to holding steady.”

“We are seeing that the enemy, based on [Baghdad security plan] operations in the city, has to start moving around,” Funk said. “And as they move around, we’re being much more successful in capturing or killing them,” but that there are still “continuing issues” with insurgents moving weapons and personnel through his sector.

The area the Iron Horse Brigade is responsible for patrolling in northern Baghdad is 900 square miles and has a population of nearly 2 million, the majority of whom are Sunni, according to Funk.

In addition to a decrease in roadside bombs against coalition troops, Iraqi civilian murders have also dropped, he said.

“I probably averaged, when we first got here, as many as eight extrajudicial killings a month,” Funk said. “Now we’re down to one or two a month.”

Funk said that he thinks the reason murders are down “is directly related to getting out with the population, living with them, and communicating with them every day.”


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