Third Infantry Officer Praises Performance of Iraqi Security Forces

Iraqi soldiers on patrol.
Iraqi soldiers on patrol.

With training and support from the Third Infantry Division, members of the Second Battalion, Fifth Iraqi Army Brigade patrol the streets of Baghdad. They look for anything suspicious, trying to prevent the next suicide attack.

"We've been training about three months. Pretty heavily," said Staff Sgt. Yerbot, a Third ID soldier working with the Iraqis. "These guys went from doing about two or three hours of work a day to pretty close to 12 hours...they've come a long way, they're ready to hit the streets."

Iraqi security forces hit the streets Thursday, when two suicide bombers were spotted in central Baghdad.

We spoke with Lt. Col. Bob Roth via satellite today. He's with the Third ID's Fourth Brigade, and has been been involved with the training. He had high praise for the performance of the Iraqi security forces.

"A car bomb detonated and two suicide bombers then approached very quickly toward Iraqi security forces," he said. "What they were trying to do is like trying to hug you, if you think of your enemy trying to come up and hug you and then explode themselves and create mass casualties. The Iraqis prevented both from reaching their targets."

One detonated out of range, and Iraqi police wounded and captured the other. An Iraqi explosive ordinance detonation team was called in and disarmed the would-be bomber's suicide vest.

US Army officials say the cooperation of various Iraqi security forces and lots of training for units like Second Battalion are paying off.

"Several weeks ago, they just started patrolling outside in local communities, and I'll tell you what, it's surpassed my furthest expectations," said Lt. Col. Roth. "They're doing a great job."

A job they'll one day be able to do without us.

"They are stepping up to the plate and they are wanting to take this on themselves," Lt. Col. Roth said. "They want more control, they want responsibility. They are not shying away from this at all."

On a personal note, Lt. Col. Roth wanted us to let the families and citizens at home know that their support has been invaluable. He says if the fans are a football team's 12th man, then the people on the home front are the Army's.

Reported by: Charles Gray,