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American Forces Press Service

Iraqi Army Division Takes Step Toward Full Combat Readiness

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2005 The staff of the 8th Iraqi Army Division was certified today in counterterrorism operations and tactics, which means the Iraqis can plan and conduct operations against enemy forces with limited support of coalition forces, military officials reported today.

Division units now are striving to achieve full combat readiness, officials said, adding that final coordination with local and central administration will be completed soon to finalize the process of battlespace transfer.

Long-term training, including exercises and combat operations, officials noted, preceded the certification process. Before the division staff was certified, six battalions and two brigades of the 8th completed their certification processes.

Training for the staff was highlighted with classes in planning and executing counterterrorism operations, which encompassed cordon-and-search techniques, checkpoints, patrolling and convoy protection. Tactical training, such as weapons proficiency, engineering, communication, medical support and logistics, also contributed to the overall certification process, a Multinational Force Iraq statement said.

"The main and final test was to check the capabilities of the division's soldiers during parliamentary elections in December," the statement added.

Division staff, under supervision of Multinational Division Central South military transition teams, planned and conducted operations to provide the security environment during elections. Staff and Iraqi soldiers passed this exam successfully, officials said.

In other news from Iraq, one terrorist was killed and another was severely injured when the improvised explosive device they were attempting to emplace detonated prematurely Dec. 19 near Tikrit.

Tikrit police and soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team responded to the explosion. The police officers performed first aid on the injured bomber, who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The IED was composed of a 155 mm artillery shell and a detonating device, according to an explosives ordnance team investigating the explosion.

Soldiers searching the area discovered another artillery round and several other IED components in a nearby vehicle. In addition to the wounded bomber, two other men were detained for allegedly attempting to help the surviving bomber avoid the responding security forces. Coalition aircraft flew 50 close-air-support missions Dec. 19 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and Navy F/A-18 Hornets struck an enemy position near Salman Pak, strafing the target and dropping precision-guided munitions onto it. Navy F-14 Tomcats provided close-air support to coalition troops near Balad and Hawijah.

Air Force officials noted that 13 U.S. Air Force, Navy and Royal Australian Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. Also, U.S. and Royal Air Force fighter aircraft performed in a non-traditional ISR role with their electro-optical and infrared sensors.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)


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