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The Iraqi Police and Continuing Operations

In the immediate wake of the double suicide attack on the police recruiting station in Ramadi, which claimed over eighty lives and injured over seventy, the Sunni police candidates lined back up to volunteer while the carnage was still fresh. The police continue to be a main target of al-Qaeda’s intimidation campaign, as a concerted effort is being made to stand up the national and local police forces in 2006, just as training the Iraq Army was the main effort in 2005.

On Thursday, one week after the horrific attack in Ramadi, another police recruitment drive was conducted. Captain Jeffrey Pool, the Public Affairs Officer for the 2nd Marine Division, which is headquartered in Ramadi, reports “the recruits returned en masse today.” Four Hundred Iraqi Police candidates transitioned to the Baghdad police academy, and “Half of the men were recruited from the Al Qa’im region in western Al Anbar and the other half from the provincial capital, Ar Ramadi.”

The Los Angles Times reports on the the recruiting in Ramadi and motivations Ali, a volunteer who made the cut during today’s police recruitment; “A few months ago, Ali saw masked gunmen shoot his cousin — a former police officer — four times in the head.” Ali refuses to be intimidated by the terror tactics of al-Qaeda and the insurgency; “We’ve been scared for a long time. We’ve had enough… I want to try to secure my city.”

While the police recruitment drive continues in Ramadi and the western run of the Euphrates River Valley remains relatively quiet, the bulk of the day-to-day fighting and operations has now moved to Baghdad and the regions north of the city. The bulk of the casualties, Coalition, Iraqi Security Forces and the insurgency are now coming from this region. Multinational Forces - Iraq press releases show the trend.

In During one raid in Baghdad, a large weapons cache is discovered, six insurgents are killed and one is detained. At least two are likely to be al-Qaeda terrorists, as they were wearing explosive laden suicide vests, a tactic used by the jihadis. Another raid resulted in a firefight where one suspect was detained and another cache was uncovered.

A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter was shot down in Mosul. Near Balad, just north of Baghdad, a failed roadside bomb attack resulted in the capture of four insurgents. A variety of incidents around Samarra, Balad and Mosul resulted in the capture of two insurgents and the death of two others. Iraqi Army and Coalition forces uncover five caches near Muqdadiyah, Kirkuk, Balad, Tal Afar and Mosul , and another insurgent dies when the roadside bomb he was planting explodes prematurely.

Iraqi Army and police units are intimately involved in the fighting in Baghdad and the north. And as more Sunnis join the police forces in these regions and along the Euphrates River Valley, the fight will only get tougher for al-Qaeda and the insurgent holdouts. Just as the Iraqi Army has yet to meet its full potential, so to are the Iraqi police forces still working to fully form up. Yet they are beginning to make their presence felt. For this reason, they will be the target of al-Qaeda’s wrath.

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"We'll have these forces trained by the end of 2006," dubbed the year of the police by US officials, "and I have full confidence that they will begin to assume control of security in Iraq".

US Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, the ex-linebacker responsible for training 200,000 Iraqi police

Efforts intensify to train Iraqi police

Bill,

Am I missing something, or has the "baseline violence" gone away?
Surge is still there, to be certain.

Soldier's Dad -

I have noticed the same thing and wondered as well. This may not be an accurate indicator, but in past months there were fatalities every day. So far in January there have been fatalities only on the 1st, 5th, 7th and 13th. On those days the fatalities could be substantial, e.g., 11 on the 5th and 18 on the 7th, but still we haven't seen this kind of spacing since February 2004.

Iraq Coalition Casualties for January 2006

Soldier's Dad -

In reading the news further this morning maybe it's not as hopeful as I had wished. This article indicates the terrorists have now switched to targeting civilians, though that still doesn't explain the drop in American fatalities.

‘‘We have determined a significant change in who the insurgents are targeting,’’ said Maj. Richard Greene, the executive officer of Flynn’s unit. ‘‘Up to the elections, they were targeting the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army. They don’t want to tangle with us. Now we’ve noticed a lot of the violence seems to be intimidation of civilians.’’

Troops get tea, but little information

Will the political situation be resolved soon? If so, what happens in Ramadi then?

Marlin,

I read the Nick Wadhams article as well. Insurgents intimidating local populations is not something new. It may be for that particular neighborhood.

Significant insurgent activity, without noticable intimidation of the local residents would be bad news.

Mohamed over at IraqTheModel is reporting that the AlQueda Welcome Mat in Ramadi and Sammarra has been rolled up and put away.

I am not sure if icasualties.org can be trusted. They double report civilian deaths, and put terrorist deaths in air bombing to the account of civilians.

The medical profession is a favorite profession of the Islamofascists. Zawahiri is an MD. When the Ramadi doctor complained that the 80 deaths at the police recruiting line is the job of the Americans, his fellow Sunnis beat him up! Then icasualties.org liberally goes and tallies such MD-lies to the account of the US.

In any case, if you go to their website, and click on "Iraqi Military and Civilan casualtes", you will see in the past week, Iraqi casualties have come to almost a stop. Also, AP and al-reuters are not reporting much daily carnage.

Looks like the neo-Baathists have pulled back, while al-Qaeda is having difficulty executing operations and seems to be stammering. If they are attacking civilians (including locals), that must be because al-Qaeda is being turned in.

I hate to be prematurely optimistic ....

I tend to look to icasualties.org for a feel rather than hard numbers. I agree, their tracking of civilian deaths leaves a little to be desired.

I look at

1) Number of incidents
2) Whether the incident was a low or high cost incident(mortars and IED's are low cost for the terrorists, suicide bombers and gunman are high cost)
3) Location

I have also held a suspicion for quite some time, that a portion of Suicide attacks can be attrtibuted to a SOP within AlQaeda that when a cell becomes compromised, they all blow themselves up. Bill had a post about 13 suicide bombers in one day,with almost zero effectiveness.