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American Forces Press Service

Anbar Province Still Dangerous But Getting Better, Marine Commander Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2007 – Life in Iraq’s Anbar province is still dangerous, but security is improving, the senior commander for ground operations in the province said yesterday in Baghdad.

For example, 22 joint security stations in the town of Ramadi now are helping to tamp down violence, Marine Brig. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, ground forces commander for Multinational Force West, said during a news conference.

“As security continues to improve, we don’t think that there will be a need for all of those security stations,” Gurganus, whose jurisdiction includes Anbar province, said.

Much success has been achieved in reducing violence in Anbar province, Gurganus said, although he acknowledged that conditions there can still be precarious for residents as well as for Iraqi and coalition forces.

“There are still dangerous things going on there,” the one-star general said. “While we have achieved a great deal of success, there still are dangers.”

Gurganus cited Anbar residents’ growing disapproval of and hostility toward al Qaeda and other terrorists as an indicator of an improving climate across the western province.

“We clearly see that the Iraqi citizens have grown tired of what the insurgency has to offer; they do not want any part of it,” Gurganus said. Iraqis living in Anbar province want a cessation of violence, he noted, and a secure future for themselves and their families. Iraqi citizens in Anbar are increasingly providing information about insurgent operations to Iraqi security forces, he said.

A second indicator of success in Anbar is illustrated by the brave Iraqi army and police that serve across the province, Gurganus said. Although challenged by danger, Iraqi security forces in Anbar province “come back to work” each day, he said.

“They know that they are the solution for the future,” Gurganus said of the security forces.

There’ll be additional success against insurgents operating in Anbar, Gurganus predicted, noting U.S. and coalition forces now enjoy a “full partnership” with Iraqi security forces serving across the province.

Also, recruitment for Iraqi security forces is up across Anbar, Gurganus said.

“Now, the sons of al Anbar have stood up and are stepping forward to join the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police,” he said.

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