Iraqi Security Forces rally to reduce violence in northern Iraq

Source: Sgt. Shawn Miller
Source: Sgt. Shawn Miller

From United States Division – North TASK FORCE MARNE

Story by Sgt. Shawn Miller 
109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
USD-N PAO, COB Speicher

SALAH AD-DIN PROVINCE, Iraq – Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army leaders met alongside directors of numerous security agencies from across the province in a collaborative effort Oct. 20 to reduce violence and extremist attacks across northern Iraq.

What started this summer as a grassroots effort to foster intelligence sharing between Iraqi police, military and intelligence agencies developed over time into a weekly meeting between the local Iraqi Security Forces to share information and collaborate security efforts.

"I assessed that that was one of my roles as a battalion commander," said Lt. Col. Donald Brown, commander of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. "If we were going to do anything to set the Iraqi Security Forces up for success post-2011, it was getting them to synchronize what they were doing, share intelligence, and coordinate their efforts in the counter-terrorism fight."

In the wake of multiple violent attacks earlier in the week, several of which targeted military and security forces, the leaders focused the meeting on how to be better prepared and root out the perpetrators.

"People rely on us to protect them," said Maj. Gen. Hamid Namis Yasin Musa, Provincial Director of Police for Salah ad-Din.

While some agency leaders voiced concern during the meeting about a lack of funding and resources, the group worked toward building interagency trust and cooperation.

"The Iraqi Security Forces have made tremendous progress during that time from what I have seen," said Brown, who was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005-2007. "It is putting the mechanics in place for the various Iraqi Security Forces and the intelligence agencies to synchronize their efforts and share intelligence in a transparent manner that is very unlike how they have operated in the past."

As the meetings continue to grow, the Iraqi security leaders control the agenda and continue to share information with U.S. forces as they continue their advisory and support role.

One goal discussed by the leaders included development of a unified targeting approach across boundaries and cultural barriers in which the different security and intelligence entities can track and defeat suspected extremists.

Such an approach could help ISF prevent violent attacks such as a recent bombing of an Iraqi Police leader, Oct. 19, said Lt. Col. Brown.

"While this may have temporarily shaken their confidence, it has not destroyed it," he said. "The Iraqi Security Forces are strong enough and competent enough that they see themselves as capable of taking this fight to al-Qaeda."