Edition: Tue, January 17, 2006
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They've taken their sovereignty. They've brought in an interim government, elected a transitional government, peacefully passed power, written a constitution, approved the constitution, built an army of over -- an army and police forces of over 200,000, got them into the fight, and yesterday they elected an assembly that will form a government to lead them for the next four years -- all of this against a ruthless and resilient insurgency. So a remarkable effort here in less than three years, and every man and woman who has served here or fought here owns a piece of this success, and particularly the loved ones of our fallen comrades.

General George W. Casey
Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq


Iraq Update

During 2005, Iraq had tremendous transitions which crystallized as a bona fide democracy. Last year, more than eight million Iraqis became participants in the democratic process to elect a transitional government.

Iraq made an evolutionary leap in 2005, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Coalition forces and the successful development of the Iraqi Armed Forces. With the support of the Iraqi people, a new Iraq is rising from the ashes to become a legitimate player on the world stage.

Below are some significant events highlighted:

- Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began 2005 in Iraq as the senior enlisted advisor for Multinational Corps Iraq. He witnessed the January 30 elections and said the event and subsequent elections in Iraq and Afghanistan are significant on many levels.

- 2005 saw a number of successes as a direct result of ongoing operations and cooperation with the Iraqi Army and security forces here.

- In March, the 5th Iraqi Army Division conducted its first mission in the Wasit province. The operations neutralized terrorist activity through establishing traffic control points, mounted reconnaissance patrols and gathering intelligence from local citizens.

- Also, all 27 battalions of the Iraqi Army's nine brigades became operational with the March 20 graduation of nearly 1,500 Soldiers at Kirkush Military Training base.

- In May, control of the An-Numaniyah Iraqi Army base was transferred from Coalition forces to the Ministry of Defense. The MOD took responsibility for the base's infrastructure, life support functions and maintenance. The base is now home to a fully operational Iraqi Army brigade and training center.

- In June, an Iraq led effort called Operation Lightning brought a 38 percent reduction in the number of detonated vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and a 23 percent increase in the number of VBIEDs discovered before detonating. Operation Lightning was carried out by seven IA battalions, nine Iraqi Special police battalions and Coalition forces. This operation was also credited with a 10 percent reduction in IED explosions and 18 percent fewer attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces throughout Baghdad.

- Another pivotal event in Iraq's breakthrough year came October 15, as Iraqis again embraced the power of the vote to ratify a constitution.

- On November 30, the Iraqi flag was raised in Husaybah, symbolizing the success of the operation in the Al-Anbar province. In preparation for December's election, Operation Steel Curtain prevented foreign terrorists from entering Iraq in November.

- The chance for the new representative government materialized on December 15, when the Iraqis again dipped their fingers in the ink and elected a permanent governing body. More than 70 percent of eligible Iraqi voters, 11 million, participated in the parliamentary elections which spurred a minimal amount of violence and a resounding feeling of unity throughout the country.