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US Military in Iraq Shifting Focus to Training

By Alex Villarreal
07 December 2007

A senior U.S military officer says the improved security situation in Iraq has allowed more coalition forces to shift their focus from leading security operations to training Iraqis to do so. VOA's Alex Villarreal reports from the Pentagon.

The director of operations for the senior U.S. military staff, Lieutenant General Carter Ham, told reporters Friday the increased strength of Iraqi security forces has enabled some U.S. and coalition troops to transition into a supporting role.

"Rather than U.S. and other coalition forces being in the lead for providing security, it is increasingly the Iraqi security forces who are providing that security. And so we, then, are, over time, shifting our emphasis from being the security force to being the force that is enabling the Iraqis to provide the security," he said.

General Ham said with more capable Iraqi forces available, U.S. commanders can spare more troops to form training teams to help further improve the Iraqi forces. He said the improved Iraqi troops are having an impact as al-Qaida tries to increase activity in northern Iraq.

"I think what they are finding are increasingly capable Iraqi security forces, both Iraqi army and Iraqi police," he said, "and though al-Qaida is specifically targeting them this time, it appears, they are finding those forces much more resistant to the influences and to the attacks."

On Thursday, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, U.S. General David Petraeus, told reporters in Baghdad the progress by Iraqi security forces and the surge of U.S. troops have helped reduce violence in Iraq by 60 percent in the last six months, to the lowest level in nearly two years.

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