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Defense Department Report, May 23: Gulf Exercise, Iraq Roundup

23 May 2005

Commanding general for Mideast region cites counterproliferation efforts

"EAGLE RESOLVE" FOCUSED ON REDUCING WMD VULNERABILITIES

The six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have made substantial progress in reducing vulnerabilities posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD), says the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia.

Speaking after the conclusion of exercise “Eagle Resolve 2005” – in which Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates participated -- Army General John Abizaid said additional counterproliferation work remains.  “WMD proliferation remains a regional and worldwide threat that requires our continual efforts,” he said.

“Eagle Resolve” comprised a series of seminars and exercises designed to promote cooperative defense against WMD.  Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Walton, who oversaw the exercises, said he expects the Gulf region “will benefit immensely from the lessons learned” from it.

Qatari and U.S. military forces participated along with delegations from the GCC chiefs of staff as well as subject matter specialists from the Council.

IRAQI SECURITY FORCES ROOT OUT SUSPECTED INSURGENTS

Iraqi Army and Interior Ministry forces are leading an operation, with U.S. support, to root out individuals suspected of killing and injuring Iraqis throughout Baghdad.

“Operation Squeeze Play” rounded up 285 suspects May 23 –- the first day of operations.  “This is the largest combined operation with Iraqi security forces to date,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Clifford Kent said.  “The Iraqi Security Forces have the lead in this operation while we perform shaping and supporting roles,” he said.

The Iraqi forces have been trying to alert Iraqi civilians to the dangers posed by suicide bombers and to be on high alert for cars with tinted glass, riding low to the ground or listing to one side, and traveling at high speed with a single driver.

The operation continues to make progress.  Army Colonel Joseph DiSalvo predicts that, by summer’s end, those causing the violence “will be captured, dead,” or, at the very least, have their activities severely disrupted as a result of “Operation Squeeze Play.”

Other military efforts in the Iraqi capital have netted weapons and explosives as well as a chemical-protection mask.  Currency worth $6 million was collected and several terrorist suspects were apprehended.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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