New plan for greater security
By Sgt. Mike Pryor
2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Coalition and Iraqi security forces are moving towards a solution for the conflict in Iraq, bringing new ideas and areas into the ongoing operation to secure Baghdad.
Sadr City, formerly perceived as a stronghold for radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s militia is being included in negotiations through efforts on all sides.
Commanders from the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, and 2nd Brigade Combat, 82nd Airborne Division met with a civic leader of Sadr City, Raheem Al Darraji, on March 1 in order to discuss upcoming security plans for Sadr City and the infusion of national level Iraqi security forces. The meeting took place at a police station in Sadr City that will soon become the area’s first Joint Security Station, manned 24 hours-a-day by all elements of the security forces including U.S. forces.
“It was a very positive meeting,” said Col. Don Farris of Lone Star, Texas, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., “They’ve shown they are willing to reach out to the government of Iraq and coalition forces.”
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division is the first of several BCTs that will flow into Baghdad in the coming months as part of the troop surge to combat sectarian violence. They are already having an impact in the key area of Sadr City.
Farris’ unit has been establishing small bases called combat outposts on the edges of Sadr City since early last month, positioning themselves for a significantly increased presence in the densely populated six square mile area.
That move, which at one time would have been politically unthinkable for the Iraqi government, is now becoming a reality.
This time rather than barricade them off, it appears that leaders in Sadr City are ready to work with coalition forces when they come.
Weary of a cycle of violence and militia activities, as well as al-Qaeda attacks in the area, Mr. Raheem Al Darraji stressed again and again during the meeting that he welcomed the presence of Iraqi and U.S. forces, and the help they could provide his people.
“We want you here sooner, rather than later,” Al Darraji said.
Initial reports indicate the overall Baghdad Security Plan – which has placed thousands of additional troops on the streets of the Iraqi capital – has achieved reduced levels of violence thus far.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of the 8th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, a joint partner said there is no reason why the successes of the security plan in other parts of Baghdad can’t be replicated in Sadr City.
“We will do the same as we did in Adhamiyah. It is one nation and no one is above the law,” Kareem said.
Farris also stressed that point. The Iraqi Government and its coalition partners have the authority to go after criminals, extremists, and insurgents wherever they are located.
“There are no sanctuaries, anywhere,” Farris said.
Lt. Col. Richard Kim, commander of 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of the 6th Iraqi National Police Division, have a conversation on the steps of the Al Jezaaer Police Station in Sadr City March 1. The units held an initial meeting with Sadr City’s civic leader about establishing the first permanent coalition base in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)
Col. Billy Farris, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, meets with Raheem Al Darraji, the civic leader of Sadr City, to discuss the establishment of the area’s first joint security station March 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)