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You might not have heard this week's news from Iraq:
Coalition troops formally handed over control of Iraq's Wasit province to the Iraqi government Wednesday.A side note, missed in the media coverage I've seen: Wasit was home to the Georgian Brigade up until Russia invaded that country.
On Thursday, Iraqis assumed control of Babil province. And last month, coalition troops handed over Anbar province to the Iraqis.
The other provinces that have shifted to Iraqi security control are Duhuk, Irbil and Sulaimaniya in the Kurdish region, and Karbala, Najaf, Qadisiya, Muthanna, Thiqar, Basra, and Maysan in the Shiite south.
Baghdad, Diyala, Salaheddin, Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces remain under U.S. control.
Following the handover, US forces are to retreat to their bases and participate in security operations only at the request of the provincial governor.And here's a story from earlier this week on the handover of Babil Province:
Rubaie announced that "within weeks" Baghdad would go on to take control of the northern oil-rich but ethnically volatile region of Kirkuk and of Salaheddin, the Sunni home province of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
The US military also remains in control of Baghdad, Nineveh and Diyala.
Nineveh and Diyala are Al-Qaeda strongholds where security forces have launched a series of military sweeps targeting the jihadists.
Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin, the number two commander of US forces in Iraq, said Wasit was once a route for "enemies to move weapons ... to attack Iraqi and coalition forces."
"Till seven months back, Wasit saw 16 to 18 attacks each week. Now the province frequently has reached zero attacks largely due to high level of cooperation between all security units."
Increased professionalism within the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and intensive US targeting efforts have helped to degrade the presence of extremists in Iraq's south-central 'Triangle of Death' - part of the province of Babil that was handed over to Iraqi government control on 23 October.Yup. I spent some time in both Provinces last year.
Babil, south of Baghdad, became the 12th of Iraq's 18 provinces to be returned to Iraqi government control, after efforts to corral or eliminate extremists on either side of the 'sectarian fault line' that divides the province between Shia (south) and Sunni (north). A small section of the north gained notoriety as the 'Triangle of Death' and the battlespace has featured Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other Sunni extremists, as well as Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) and other Shia militants.
Dawn Patrol readers are well aware of the transfer of Babil Province a few days ago. Mrs G found a few stories, and even video of the handover of one base from a unit of the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade Combat Team to Iraqi forces.
Ironically, as stories of Afghanistan as "the forgotten war" appear more frequently in the media Iraq is vanishing from view. Those Wasit and Babil stories were far from the front pages - as were the stories of how we got to the point where they were possible. But prior to departing Iraq the Third Infantry Division prepared this video for the soldiers to have something to use to tell their stories to the folks back home. In it you'll see the story of progress throughout 2007 and early 2008 in Babil and Wasit Provinces, and elsewhere in their Area of Operations.
This video is probably not up to network or cable news standards, so I don't think you'll see anything like it there.
But by "standards", I mean it tells how we won the war.
That's the big picture. Later today I'll have a more personal story to tell. I hope you can join me.
In the meantime, feel free to embed this video on your site - just copy and paste the following code (change dimensions as desired):
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcLbOAA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="270" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>