Thursday, July 27, 2006

Securing Baghdad

The Los Angeles Times:
Chiarelli said that pulling back the troops made sense when the enemy was mainly insurgent groups. But now that the violence in Baghdad is increasingly between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, stopping it requires a new approach, he said.

"What we have here is a level of sectarian violence," he said. "And the way you have to fight this is that you have to have presence on the streets. I don't know any other way to fight it."

Under the latest plan, military officials hope to establish zones of security by putting robust U.S. and Iraqi forces in key neighborhoods, then gradually expand those safe areas. Throughout the city, the Americans will try to quickly contain outbreaks of sectarian killing.

Nine thousand U.S. soldiers, 8,500 Iraqi soldiers and 34,000 Iraqi police officers provide security in Baghdad. Military officials plan to bolster those numbers with 4,000 additional U.S. troops and 4,000 more Iraqi soldiers.

But the cornerstone of the new plan is economic development projects, which Chiarelli is known for championing. When he commanded the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad from March 2004 to March 2005, he reduced the violence in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City by putting many of the fighting-age men to work digging a sewer system.

Reconstruction projects have fallen by the wayside as money has diminished and violence has soared. That violence now has given Chiarelli an opportunity to test his ideas on a grander scale.


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