By MNF Iraq, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/September 17, 2006
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense is ready to gain operational control of the 4th Iraqi Army Division as early as next week, the multi-national Coalition said in a draft statement on Saturday. The move would be the second transfer of an Iraqi division from Coalition control this month."It's all about becoming independent and self-sufficient," said Lt. Col. Michael Negard, spokesman for Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq. MNSTC-I is the group in charge of training the Iraqi Defense Forces.On Sept. 7, Coalition forces transferred operational control of Iraq's Air Force and Navy to the Iraqi Joint Headquarters, the top military level of the Iraqi chain of command. At the same time, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense activated the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. The Coalition then transferred control of the 8th Iraqi Army Division to that command."It allows the (IGFC) to gradually increase their control (and) to form plans from operations to assessments," Negard said.The latest transfer affirms the continuing development in the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces. The 4th Iraqi Army Division has shown the ability to take over security operations in areas like Tikrit, Kirkuk and Samarra, the Coalition statement said, adding that the division officially took control of its area of responsibility from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division on Aug. 8.Since August, the Iraqi Soldiers have helped repair schools and provided security for other construction projects in its area of operations, the statement said. At present, six Iraqi Army division headquarters, 26 brigade headquarters and 88 battalions have the lead in their own areas. These numbers reflect almost 70 percent of the Iraqi Army, and an increase of five division headquarters, 22 brigade headquarters and 65 battalions since November 2005.Both Coalition and Iraqi officials have said the goal is to have all the Iraqi Army divisions leading operations in their areas of responsibility by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Coalition is stepping up its transition plan by beginning to transfer all of Iraq's 18 provinces to Iraqi control.Al-Muthanna province achieved Provincial Iraqi Control status in July. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently announced Dhi Qar province will attain PIC status prior to the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday beginning Sept. 24.