Also, seven of the 18 provinces, highlighted in yellow, are under provincial Iraqi control, meaning that Iraqis are responsible for their own security with coalition force overwatch in these areas. Today as we conduct our assessments, the potential exists for eight additional provinces to achieve provincial Iraqi control by the end of the year.
That means the possibility of 15 of 18 provinces under full Iraqi control by the end of the year.
The strategy of the Surge (and COIN):
The key difference of our ongoing operations is that we are not giving up any of the hard-fought gains. We are staying until the Iraqi security forces have the ability to control that battlespace. In this respect, we are working extremely hard with the government of Iraq to establish locally recruited police as well as coordinating with the Iraqi army to ensure long-term stability. This is a tough task and will require the concerted efforts of the government of Iraq with coalition support.
That my any definition is a new strategy. And what does that mean?
We are seeing other promising developments throughout Iraq like:
• People clearly rejecting al Qaeda and assisting coalition and Iraqi forces in liberating their towns and villages
• Large numbers of Sunni tribesmen volunteering for the police and army
• A decrease in sectarian violence and displacement of individuals
• An increased willingness of armed groups to establish and observe cease-fires with coalition forces and Iraqi security forces
• Some displaced families returning to their homes
• Growing confidence and professionalism of the Iraqi army
• Decreased effectiveness of militias operating in and around Baghdad
• An increased sense of security by residents in several different locations inside of Baghdad in Baqubah, Al Anbar, and specifically the Arab Jabour region
• A significant increase in intelligence provided to coalition forces and Iraqi security forces at our joint security stations and combat posts, as well as Iraqi command-and- control headquarters
• The Iraqi people are starting to have more confidence in their own army now that hundreds of extremists no longer can terrorize them
And that growing confidence is leading to what?
We are witnessing an opportunity right now with shifting attitudes, specifically the rejection of al Qaeda. The Awakening movement born in Al Anbar many months ago is now spreading into more diverse provinces like Diyala, Salahuddin, Nineveh and North Babil.
• Ramadi, once the al Qaeda capital of Iraq, is averaging less than one attack per day now, compared to October 2006 with over 40 attacks a day and February 2007 with over 30 attacks today.
• In Abu Ghraib, local leaders decided they were done with al Qaeda and turned to the coalition for help several months ago. o Tribal leaders vetted almost 2,000 of their own to provide security, and today they are being integrated into Iraqi police forces. o As a result, violence in Abu Ghraib has been cut in half and continues to decrease.
• In Amiriyah, self-proclaimed freedom fighters have reached out to and are assisting coalition forces in clearing their once-violent Baghdad neighborhood. o As a result of their assistance, 13 al Qaeda operatives have been detained as well as numerous weapons caches, IEDs and VBIEDs over recent weeks.
• In Taji, neighborhood watch groups attacked al Qaeda targets over 24 times in June alone, leading to the detention of four operatives and no activity since June 19.
• Tips from citizens in Radwaniyah led to numerous caches found that included nitric acid, 120-millimeter artillery rounds, chlorine tanks and an 85 percent IED ‘found and cleared’ rate, allowing the Zaidon Radwaniyah Quarter to be completely trafficable for the first time in almost a year.
• In our Multinational Division-Center area of operation south of Baghdad, over 2,000 Iraqi men are standing in line to join local police forces, wanting to ensure security and freedom for their families.