Iraq: February 24, 2004

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The United States is reducing its forces in Baghdad, from a current 36,000 troops to, by May 15th, 24,000. The number of American bases in Baghdad will go from 48 to eight, and most will be on the outskirts of the city. The American troops are being replaced by 12,000 Iraqi police and 3,000 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps security troops. The increased attacks on Iraqi police and security personnel has increased the deaths of Iraqi personnel to about the same level as American troops (263). The greater threat is now terrorist attacks (suicide bombings). Every week, more of these terrorists (most of whom are foreign) are captured, by Iraqi police and American troops. The Americans and Iraqis have separate intelligence organizations, with more information going from the Iraqi police to the Americans than the other way around (because of the continued bribery problem among Iraqi police.) But the Iraqi police are able to flush out foreigners, or information about them, quickly, once there are enough police in a neighborhood to resume regular patrols. But Iraq is a large place, and many city neighborhoods and country towns still don't have much police presence. There are plenty of places where foreigners and strangers can settle in and do whatever they do. Usually its smuggling or other criminal activities, and Iraqis have learned to leave these guys alone, even though some of them may be terrorists.


 

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