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From Stars and Stripes a story headlined More Iraqi troops participating in raids:
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? In a move that U.S. commanders hope will push more day-to-day peacekeeping responsibilities over to Iraqis themselves, the Army is organizing raids to hunt down terrorists using overwhelming numbers of local paramilitary troops.
On Monday, about 35 members of the Florida National Guard provided security and intelligence for an operation into Baghdad conducted by about 80 members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
American troops hope such operations will be steps toward a nominally normal Iraq. The occupying coalition has spent $3.3 billion in tax dollars to establish the defense corps as well as an army, border patrol and other institutions.
?This is a complete role reversal,? said Capt. Rodney Sanchez, commander of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 124th Infantry of the Florida National Guard. Typically, the number of Iraqis would mirror the number of Americans on such a mission. Ramping up the participation of Iraqis essentially doubled the captain?s forces.
?We?re not there to run the mission,? Sanchez said inside his compound, a former officers club used by the Republican Guard. ?We?re there to just observe.?
?We don?t expect [resistance], but we always plan for it,? Sanchez said. ?We?re looking for a specific person and we don?t know which house he?s in.?
Upon deploying the team springs into action:
They banged and clanged against two huge iron gates, turquoise and heavy, but the threshold remained fast. An older man in a greatcoat and tie eventually turned up. He offered to fetch his machine gun and pistol.
?Sometimes they?re a little overly helpful,? said Sgt. 1st Class James Gilleon. ?They?ll put out a weapon, and you?re like, ?Whoa-hoa! I?ll find it.? ?
The man, the owner of the house, told Gilleon he is a former diplomat. His daughter lives in San Francisco.
?That?s great,? Gilleon replied.
The retired diplomat did his best to be diplomatic.
?You do very well,? he said of the search. ?It?s for my sake.?
The man joked that his Aladdin fairy tale gates could keep out anything, save a tank. He knew full well the soldiers, of course, could arrange that.
It's actually easier to be diplomatic to large groups of people with guns than you might think. Still, this seems like a very nice group:
If someone seems legitimately out for the evening, the soldiers still bust in, but take before-and-after pictures and leave a note asking for the bill.
?You try to do as little damage as possible,? said Sgt. Jerry Walden. ?But you gotta do what you gotta do.?
An odd nicety, and a reminder that while in Baghdad you are through the looking glass.
At its end, the joint raid netted only the few automatic rifles ? the ones troops returned to their owners ? and an intelligence tip the coalition already had.
But before it was finished, once the street opened wider and brighter, people gawked at the soldiers and paramilitary Iraqis. They waved from shops selling eggs, soft drinks and carpets. A boy soon zipped along the march on his bicycle.
Despite the masks, despite the rifles, no one seemed afraid.
And there you have it. An awkward group of allies, apparently with the early indications of a still somewhat uneasy support of the people. Working together for a common goal.
Not too impressive, perhaps, when viewed through the filter of comparison with our own such forces, but amazing when the incredibly short time we've been there is considered.
Baby steps. Gotta crawl before you can walk.
Part II here