Iraqi commanders are speaking of what appears to be a long-term plan to hand over security in urban areas to the police. Lieutenant General Ali Ghaydan, the commander of ground forces, told the press that the defense ministry has plans to withdraw army units from urban areas. He added that efforts continue to build a capable police force that can handle internal security needs in all provinces.
Ideally, this should be the natural course of events; police handle internal security, while the army deals with external threats. Although the Iraqi police and national police have been making significant progress, such an ambitious transition is expected to take some time; perhaps 2-3 years.
In related news the director of the national command center in the ministry of interior announced that the MOI intends to purchase 15 aircraft from the U.S. to assist in monitoring the borders “and carry out other special missions”. General Khalaf explained that “Interior minister Jawad Bolani will discuss the contract to purchase these aircraft during his current visit to the U.S. as part of the delegation accompanying PM Maliki”
Khalaf added that Iraq will use the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system to acquire these aircraft. The type of the aircraft remains unknown.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops in southern Iraq are focusing their efforts on the borders after their withdrawal from urban areas. The commander of the 10th division (IA) said that U.S. troops that left the towns of Maysan province have redeployed to border areas to deter militants and weapons trafficking from Iran. The officer added that the Iraqi air force has begun to provide some support to the IA troops in this sector.