Brig Gen Kurt Cichowski, Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy, Plans and Assessment, Multi-National Force-Iraq gave a briefing this morning in which he announced that it has been decided by the multi-nation forces, Iraqi government, and local governments that security responsibly for the province of Al Muthanna will be transferred in full to the governor of Al Muthanna in the coming days. “This is historic, it’s like Delaware being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and become the first state.” the General said via video teleconference from Iraq.
This will be the first province where this has occurred in Iraq and marks the first step of the beginning of security independence for the rest of Iraq. Al Muthanna is a province the size of West Virginia that borders Saudi Arabia on the southwest side of Iraq. The General mentioned that he hopes to have another 7 or 8 transferred by around the end of the year. While security control and responsibility will transfer, multinational force will still be allowed to continue reconstruction and humanitarian efforts. Forces (uk / au) in the governorate will remain, though they will be in “watch from afar” mode and available to assist only upon request from of the governor or Prime Minister. The press in attendance questioned Cichowski about troop level requirements post transfer, the answer to which is best described as saying there is not a strong connection between transfer of responsibility and troop levels, even though they seem directly related at first glace.
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Other quick hits and updates from Iraq include:
- 28 National Police battalions now on Patrol, two of which control territory.
- Three Iraqi Army divisions, 18 brigades And 69 battalions control territory throughout Iraq as of the end of June.
- 69 seats in the 2006 Council Of Representatives (Iraqi Congress) are women, which is the highest proportion in the Arab world, not to mention on par with the U.S. Congress.
- 6 Million children are now in primary school, up from 4.3 million in 2004, which was already higher then under Saddam.
- Iraqi medical schools are graduating 2250 doctors every year
- 800 judges are now on the job, 54 commercial TV stations, 114 Radio station, 260+ newspapers and magazines
But I digress.. In short, despite what you might read, life is much better for the average Joe Iraqi then it was 3 1/2 years ago, every time I stand back and take a look the progress seems amazing in this short amount of time.