October 12, 2005:
Despite the controversy over independent operations certification, that has been in the news recently, the Iraqi military has clearly been coming into their own. Iraqi combat divisions have taken over security work in several parts of the country. On October 3, the 6th Iraqi Division assumed formal authority over Baghdad's central and northern districts, where it has been operating for several months. Also operating in the Baghdad area is the Ninth Iraqi Division (Mechanized), which has been teamed up with the U.S. 1st Armor in raiding operations over the major road networks. The Iraqi 4th Division has been conducting raids and cordon and searches along the Tigris River Valley north of Baghdad, up to Tikrit. The Iraqi 2nd Division has been operating with good success in extending control in and around Mosul out to Tal Afar. A battalion of the Iraqi 2nd Division was moved to Tal Afar at the end of August by the Iraqi 23rd Air Transport Squadron (operating C-130 airplanes). This was the first report of the new Iraqi Army supported by the new Iraqi Air Force.
The on-going Anbar (central Iraq) province campaign has been firmly anchored by the 1st Iraqi Division, which is also called the Iraqi Intervention Force (IIF). This Iraqi Division has and continues to conduct operations in and around the gateway cities of the Euphrates River Valley - Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, Rawah, and Al Khalidiyah. Units of this Division have a year or more of combat experience. The Division consists of 4 brigades (each with 3 battalions). The IIF has received intense training for urban operations including the art of street fighting and building clearing. In addition to the Intervention force, the Iraqi Army has two elite battalions. The Commando Battalion is a Ranger-type strike force. The Iraqi Counter-terrorism Battalion is trained for insertion and extraction to conduct hostage rescue or leadership raids. These elite forces are selected for experience and undergo extensive screening and background checks. The operations by their nature are more elusive to track.
The Iraqi 5th Iraqi Division has been undergoing training exercises in and near Kirkuk including raids and mass casualty training. The training includes actual operations. At the end of August, elements of the Iraqi 5th Iraqi Division performed six-day combined operations involving elite Iraqi Special Operations Forces. The 8th Iraqi Division operates and trains on the road network between the two rivers south of Baghdad. Several battalions of this Division have completed initial certification toward independent operations. The training is focused on counter-insurgency operations, cordon and search, check points, and patrolling. The training for independent brigade and division operations is continuing. Like all training beyond basic in the new Iraqi army, "live" action is involved, since Iraqi 8th Iraqi Division units have reportedly conducted over 100 operations capturing weapon's caches and apprehending suspected terrorists.