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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Attacks in Iraq Down 80 Percent Since June 2007, General Says

From Multi-National Force - Iraq:

An Iraqi Army Soldier from 9th Iraqi Army Division provides security, along side U.S. Army Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, during a dismounted patrol in Abu Atham, Iraq. Improved Iraqi Security Forces are considered one key reason for the improved security throughout Iraq. Photo by Tech Sgt. William Greer.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — The number of weekly attacks in Iraq has dropped from about 1,200 a week in June 2007 to about 200 a week now, the commander of the tactical unit responsible for command and control of operations in Iraq said June 23.

Mirroring this reduction in violence has been a 70 percent decrease in roadside-bomb attacks and an 85 percent spike in the number of weapons caches Coalition forces have found over the past year, Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq, told reporters via satellite from Baghdad at a Pentagon news conference.

“I attribute most of these hard-fought gains in security to a few key factors: our Coalition forces aggressively pursuing the enemy, the improving capability of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Iraqi people participating in the rebuilding process of Iraq,” he said.

But the general tempered his optimism, characterizing security improvements as fragile gains that coalition troops are attempting to solidify as they build the capabilities of their Iraqi counterparts.

“While the improved security is a great achievement, we clearly understand that our progress is fragile, and we continue to work to make this progress irreversible,” he said.

The general praised coalition troops for having al-Qaida “on its heels,” yet he identified the organization as the “primary threat” remaining in Iraq. The terrorist group yesterday launched an attack in Baqouba that killed at least 15 people, including several police officers, and wounded dozens of others.

“Even though we assess that they are on the run, they are still capable of launching spectacular attacks,” Austin said, noting yesterday’s bombing in the Diyala province city. “As a result, our operations in the north are focused on defeating their capability to perform these attacks.”

Austin cited recent operations in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, as examples of the increasing capabilities and effectiveness of Iraq’s security forces. Combined forces in the Ninevah province city over the past four days detained 16 suspects, including four high-ranking al-Qaida operatives.

“We continue to aggressively pursue al-Qaida and to take away their safe havens and to close off all their escape routes when they try to flee,” he said.

Austin, who assumed command of Multinational Corps Iraq in February, said coalition forces will continue helping to develop Iraq’s national security operators under his leadership.

“I'm absolutely confident, based on the indicators from the last few months, that they'll continue to make significant improvements, and we will be with them, side by side, as they progress,” he said.

Though they have made significant progress, Iraqi security forces in many instances are not yet prepared to take over day-to-day operations, thereby allowing coalition troops to assume an overwatch role, the general said.

Before Iraqi forces become autonomous, he said, they need to develop “combat enablers” with the capability of calling in and integrating fire support into formation. They also be capable of supporting themselves logistically, and begin using their own surveillance and reconnaissance to cull intelligence, then plan their own operations, the general said.

“We are working hand in hand with our coalition partners in all parts of the country,” he said. “They have improved significantly, but we've been clear about saying that they're not there yet.”

As Iraqi security forces mature in the midst of combating al-Qaida and Iranian-backed “special groups,” they meanwhile are gaining the support and confidence of Iraqi citizens, the general said. The majority of Iraqis have rescinded allegiance to extremism, he added, praising the efforts of civilian security groups like the “Sons of Iraq.”

“Now the overwhelming majority of the population has turned against the insurgents and the criminals,” Austin said. “Iraqis understand that al-Qaida and outside influences are not in the best interest of their country.”

Dovetailing with Iraqi security forces’ rise in public status has been a reduction in the number of people being held in detention. A coalition-led detainee release program has freed roughly 4,000 people who combined forces have deemed nonthreatening.

“[It] demonstrates that the coalition is committed to the welfare of the Iraqi population and to reconciliation,” he said.

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WATER RELIEF - U.S. soldiers hand out water bottles to people who live in the landfill near Al Sabiat, a village northwest of Baghdad, June 15, 2008. The soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, Multinational Division Baghdad, U.S. Army photo by Capt. Ronnie Geronimo

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In Today's News - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the Day
"Courage is more exhilarating than fear
and in the long run it is easier.
We do not have to become heroes over night.
Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up,
seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared,
discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Blast Breaks Shiite Militia's Silence
Iraqi Police Lead the Way in Fallujah’s Khadairy District
One for the Road: Battalion Security Detachment Completes Last Mission
U.S. Blood Saving Iraqi Lives
Al-Qaida Leader Among Four Killed in Mosul

Operation Enduring Freedom
Afghan army commander hailed for innovations

Homeland Security / War on Terror / Hamas-Hezbollah Happenings
Rocket Attacks Threaten Mideast Truce - VIDEO
Gaza truce falters, Israel plans Hezbollah swap
Canada terror suspect faces first legal setback

Fallen Heroes
DoD Identifies Army Casualty (Baqubah)

Other Military News
A Real Army Wife Speaks!

Worldwide Wackos
Iran: EU 'Carrots and Sticks' Won't Stop Nuke Pursuit
U.S., Europe May End Aid to Iran Over Nuke Dispute

Politics / Government
McCain Camp Shakeup? - VIDEO
Divided Town Builds 'Unity' Ahead of Obama, Clinton Visit
McCain to Visit Colombia Next Week
Clinton returns to Senate to tears, cheers
McCain runs into opposition over offshore oil plan - Video
McCain faces opposition over oil plan
Obama accused of distorting Bible
Obama dismisses Dobson criticism about Bible
Blog: Could Obama-Edwards win?
Bill Clinton backs Obama, but through spokesman
House fails to pass gasoline price gouging bill
Video: McCain aide regrets comments
McCain calls for energy efficient government
Barack Obama Obama O'Messiah?
End of an era
Senate seen approving housing rescue bill
U.N.: Fair Presidential Vote in Zimbabwe Impossible
Defying pressure
Timeline: Tsvangirai pulls out of poll
Factbox: What next in Zimbabwe?
Blog: A fatal mistake for Tsvangirai?
Israeli Officer Shoots Self at Sarkozy Departure - PICS

In the Courts / Crime and Punishment / Law and Order
Murder Suspects Describe Two Killings in $2 Robbery
Judge: Naked Cowboy Can Continue Lawsuit Against Blue M&M
Kids Fed 'Silly Pills,' Forced to Perform Sex Shows in Shocking Abuse Case
Man Gets Life in Cocaine Overdose of Teething Son
Texas Father Charged With Capital Murder After Discovery of Dead Children
Case of Brit Charged in Death of Wife, Child Goes to Jury
Girl, 12, Charged With Distributing Nude Pic of Classmate
Rejecting the drug war
Video: Sympathy for drug mules
Calderon bogged down in bloody war
Mexico's war on drug gangs
Mother, daughters caught smuggling
Britney Spears back in court over child custody
NBA star Anthony pleads guilty to driving impaired
Anne Hathaway's ex arrested on fraud charges - Video
Dennis Rodman pleads no contest to spousal battery
Police: Walker went 'willingly' with Vegas robbers

Adventures in Political Correctness
Uproar Sparks Kiss of Death for Gay Mayonnaise Ad

Media in the Media / Bloggers in the News / Watching the Web
Don Imus: Racial Comments About NFL Star Were 'Sarcastic'
Yahoo shares yo-yo with reports on Microsoft talks
Blog: Microhoo: reading the tea leaves
Visa business network boosts Facebook's ad efforts

Science / Medicine and Health / Technology
NASA Scientist: Put CEOs On Trial for Global-Warming Lies (Un-flipping real)
Grandmother, 47, Gives Birth to Naturally Conceived Triplets
Astronomers May Be on Verge of Finding Earth Twin
Microsoft said slow to fix glitches
New estimates show diabetes affects 24 million
Study suggests colon cancer vaccine possible
Floods, droughts make mild diseases deadly: study
Study suggests colon cancer vaccine possible
Expert says worms and parasites drain U.S. poor
Radio frequency identification in hospitals could pose risks
Nokia buys Symbian, opens up smartphone software - Video
Virgin Mobile offers $79.99 call plan; shares fall
Matsushita seen sizing up OLED TV market
Brain injuries cause half of seniors' fall deaths
Wireless hospitals systems can disrupt med devices
Girl, 3, uses song lyrics to call 911 for mom
CDC: About 8 percent of Americans have diabetes

Mother Nature
Bush Pledges Aid for Typhoon Victims - PHOTOS
Alligator Eats Teen's Arm During Late-Night Swim
Activists Try to Free Indian Widower Jailed for Raising Orphan Bear
Lightning Sparks 800 Wildfires - PHOTOS - TRACKER
Crews battle lightning-caused California wildfires
No New Evacuations as Another Levee Fails - PHOTOS
Flooded Midwest asks White House for more aid - Video
Waterlogged levee under pressure from Mississippi
Climate change to create "plant refugees": U.S. study
Britons fear the carbon cops are coming: survey
Biofuels pushing 30 million into poverty: Oxfam
Global warming moves Costa Rica coffee land higher
Florida to buy chunk of Everglades from sugar firm
Video: Gorrillas celebrate name day
U.S. man attacked, eaten by mountain lion

News from My Neck of the Woods
Pregnant Mass. teen says there was no pact

Thousands of Dutch Prepare for 2012 Apocalypse, According to Report
Man Slits Throat During City Hall Hearing
Window Washer Survives 9-Story Fall, Jokes About It

Other News of Note
Little 'Barbie Brat' Bullies Become Concern in Schools

Fox News
More Generous Than Ever
FOX Business: Home Prices Fall 15.3% This Year
Venus Williams Wins Wimbledon Opener - PHOTOS
'Noose Prof' Likely to Lose Job for Plagiarism - PHOTOS
Pop Tarts: Bedroom Mischief Causing Health Problems for Hugh Hefner
Americans: My Faith Isn't the Only Way to Heaven
Borat Was Right: Angelina Jolie's New Movie Proves It
Spitzer Scandal Call Girl Ashley Dupré Thanks Fans, Critics

House prices, confidence dive
Factbox: Price change by metro area
Sharapova dons white tuxedo top
Wimbledon under fire for pigeon cull
Video: Straight sets for Federer
Florida offer for U.S. Sugar came as a big surprise
Judge blocks Justin Gatlin bid to compete
Fed starts policy meeting, rates seen on hold
Market drops as data, UPS fan economic fears - Video
Ballmer in spotlight
Bargain hunters too hasty?
Where is the easy money?
Audio Blog: Hope you like vanilla
Video: Asian property market still strong
Let's make a deal
Global Finance: The blame game
Personal Finance: Tapping home equity
Global Finance: No stomach for inflation fight
Lehman Brothers brings back former executives
Blockbuster shares rise on talk of deal bust
BlackRock sees global slowdown worsening in 2009
Delta, Northwest pilots reach tentative labor deal
Hot market lures new generation of Brazil investors
UPS shares at 4 1/2-year low after profit warning - Video
Circuit City may have several bidders: investor
Pier 1 withdraws bid to acquire Cost Plus
Heather Locklear seeks medical help for depression
Film shows Beatles "reunited" for Las Vegas show
HBO plans encores programs of George Carlin comedy - Video
Happy hours: good times but no promotion: survey
Rotating skyscraper plans for Moscow, Dubai -- N.Y.? - Video
East meets West for Armani men, D&G Riviera style
Video: "Moving" building set for Dubai
Ducks owner suspended indefinitely by commissioner
Woods undergoes successful knee surgery
Judge blocks Justin Gatlin bid to compete
NBA star Anthony pleads guilty to driving impaired
Venus storms through, Davydenko flops

Associated Press
AP IMPACT: Kenyan children abducted, tortured
'Valkyrie' portrait flap was mistaken photo ID
Angry kids protest gas prices after losing cable TV
Tiger has knee surgery; doctor says 'no surprises'
Melrose leaves booth to become Lightning coach
States turn down US abstinence education grants
Davenport hobbles into 2nd round at Wimbledon

News Blaze
Hoosier Fellows Learn Military Leadership
Initiative for Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone
Soldiers' Angels and Patriot Guard
Iraq News
Operations in Iraq
FOB Warhorse Memorial Photos

Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone service center opens
Marines train Iraqi police in Fallujah
Rise in police recruits improves security in Ramadi
Soldiers train Iraqi police in first aid

USJFCOM commander stresses the need to improvise
Read Day 1's liveblog - Read Day 2's liveblog - Read Day 3's liveblog
ACC commander addresses dominance, relevance and readiness at Joint Warfighting Conference
Metz says IEDs being used strategically against U.S. forces
U.S. Southern Command commander stresses importance of ideas
USJFCOM deputy commander kicks off 2008 Joint Warfighting Conference
For the future: Task force supports youth conference planning
Task force assists Iraqis with municipal power
Task Force Ramadi helps free enterprise take hold in Iraq

Multi-National Force - Iraq
MND-B Soldiers detain suspected criminal (Rashid)
Iraq Army detains 44, seizes cache (Hillah)
IA, INP, MND-B Soldiers seize munitions in Baghdad

Bush Commits Navy Support For Typhoon Victims
General Cites Steady Progress With Afghanistan Security, Governance
President Nominates Dunwoody to be First Female Four-star General


Guard Aircraft, Crews Battle Wildfires
U.S., Africa Work on Maritime Security
Special Forces from 17 Nations Compete

Signal Soldiers Wire Forward Operating Base


Afghan Army Lead Response to Prison Break
Civil-Military Center Opens in Helmand Province


Navy Ships Bring Goodwill to Nine Nations


Lieutenant Mentors Soldiers


Lake Michigan Cruise Recognizes Veterans

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar

Ansbach Aschaffenburg Berlin Berlin-Tempelhof Berlin/Schonefeld Bremerhaven
Darmstadt Frankfurt Frankfurt/Main Freiburg/Breisgau Garmisch
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Geilenkirchen Gelnhausen Giessen Kitzingen
Hanau Am Main Heidelberg Mainz Mannheim Nurnberg Stuttgart Trier
Wiesbaden Wurzburg


Agana Agana Heights Agat Andersen AFB Asan Barrigada

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut
An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Kadena Air Base Okinawa Tokyo Yokohama

Today in History
- At the Battle of Bannockburn, Scotland regains independence from England.
1322 - Jews are expelled from France
1509 - King Henry VIII of England is crowned.
1540 - Henry VIII divorces his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
1793 - In France, the first republican constitution is adopted.
1813 - Battle of Beaver Dam (War of 1812)
1861 - Tennessee becomes the eleventh, and final, state to secede.
1898 - American troops drive Spanish forces from La Guasimas, Cuba.
1930 - Radar detection of planes is first used in Anacostia NAS, DC.
1932 - In Thailand, a coup ends in the establishment of an absolute monarchy.
1939 - Pan Am Airlines makes its first U.S.-to-England flight.
1940 - France signs an armistice with Italy.
1947 - While searching for the wreckage of a U.S. Marine transport plane, civilian pilot Ken Arnold reports sighting nine unknown objects over Mt. Rainier; reporters term them "flying saucers" - it sticks.
1948 - The Soviet Union begins the Berlin Blockade; the Berlin Airlift begins.
1966 - The period of (relative) peace following WW II exceeds that following WW I.
1968 - The deadline for redeeming silver certificate dollars for silver bullion.
1977 - The IRS reveals that Jimmy Carter paid no taxes in 1976.
1982 - The Equal Rights Amendment is defeated; Soyuz T-16 lifts off.
1983 - Chalenger 2 lands at Edwards AFB after the 7th Space Shuttle mission.
1985 - Discovery 5 returns after the 18th Space Shuttle mission.
1986 - In Alabama, Guy Hunt is elected (the first Republican governor of that state in more than 100 years).

1842 - Ambrose Bierce US, satirist (The Devil's Dictionary)
1946 - Ellison S. Onizuka, Major, USAF/astronaut (STS 51C, 51L-Challenger disaster)

1908 - Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th U.S. President
1922 - Dr. Walter Rathenau, German foreign minister, killed by anti-semites
1971 - Kenneth Washington, actor (Sgt Baker-"Hogan's Heroes')

Reported Missing in Action
Van Campen, Thomas C. , US Army (CA); wounded and separated from unit when it came under enemy sniper fire, believed KIA, body not recovered.

Ellis, William, US Army (SC); disappeared while going to get help for a wounded Soldier.

Sherman, Robert C., USMC (IL); Died in captivity November 1968, remains recovered March, 1985

Carpenter, Nicholas Mallor, USN (OH); A6A shot down, remains returned September, 1990

Mobley, Joseph S., USN (IN); A6A shot down ( ejected), released by DRV March, 1973 - alive as of 1998

Beekman, William D. USAF (OH); F4 shot down, released by DRV March, 1973 - retired as a Colonel - alive as of 1996

Grant, David B., USAF (TN); F4 shot down, released by DRV March, 1973 - retired as a Lt. Colonel - alive and well as of 1998

Jackson, Charles A. , USAF (WV); F4D shot down by air-to-air missile, released by DRV February, 1973 (injured) - alive and well as of 1998

McCarty, James L., USAF (TX); F4D shot down by air-to-air missile, remains returned September, 1990 - ID'd June, 1997

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