Odierno: Parts of Baghdad may be turned over
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Parts of Anbar province and Baghdad will likely be turned over to Iraqi security forces control as early as the beginning of next year because of ongoing improvements in security, the commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq said Saturday.
Haditha, Fallujah, Hit and other former danger zones in Anbar should be ready for turnover between January and the summer, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said.
A security turnover also will likely come for some neighborhoods in Iraq’s capital, he said.
“I think we’ll see it a little bit, in pieces of Baghdad from the beginning of the year through the summer,” Odierno said.
The U.S. military has made several announcements recently showing drops in insurgent attacks.
However, the question on many minds in Iraq is whether the lower levels or violence reflect a short-term rollback or a clear trend.
“We’ve now had 21 straight weeks of decline, so I’d say that it is likely a trend,” Odierno said.
U.S military data indicate roadside bomb attacks in Iraq fell to 20 per day as of Nov. 1, down from more than 60 daily at the beginning of June. Indirect fire attacks coming from rockets and mortars have also fallen sharply each month since June, according to U.S. data.
Odierno said as of the afternoon, there had been only three reported attacks in Iraq on Saturday.
Odierno was visiting the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division headquarters for a briefing on efforts to establish security in areas surrounding Baghdad without any previous U.S. posts.
The 3rd Brigade’s efforts mirror the U.S military’s security strategy since adopting its current counterinsurgency plan. It is building small patrol outposts in Iraqi neighborhoods and organizing groups of “concerned citizens” to help Iraqi police, Odierno said.
These steps are improving security, but Iraqi stability could be set back if its leaders do not take 2008 provincial elections seriously, he said. Multiple Sunni and Shiite factions boycotted the last provincial elections.
Odierno says he believes they won’t want to be left out this time.
“They learned last time they have to participate in the political process,” Odierno said.