Another sign of progress in Iraq will take place tomorrow. There will almost certainly be increased violence surrounding the event, but that happens everytime there is any positive development in the country. Hopefully, in spite of the terrorists’ (and their supporters’) best efforts, progress will continue to be made.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq will take control of its armed forces command on Thursday, a major step on its painful path toward independence and an essential move before international troops can eventually withdraw.
Despite the progress, there was more bloodshed with at least 36 people killed across the country in car bombs, mortar attacks and drive-by shootings. Police also found 29 bodies.
“This is such a huge, significant event that’s about to occur tomorrow,” U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said of the shift in the Iraqi command. “If you go back and you map out significant events that have occurred in this government’s formation in taking control of the country, tomorrow is gigantic.”
The highly anticipated ceremony, which will put the prime minister in direct control of the military, comes five days after it was originally scheduled. The government abruptly called off the original ceremony at the last minute.
The U.S. and the Iraqis did not publicly reveal many details of the disagreement, other than to say it was more procedural than substantive.
Caldwell said the handover was so important, it could not be rushed into.
“If there’s even a question, if there’s even a slightest misunderstanding, you would absolutely want to get that thoroughly resolved,” he said.
Following the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the U.S. disbanded what was left of the defeated Iraqi army. The U.S.-led coalition has been training and equipping the new Iraqi military, hoping it soon will be in a position to take over security for the entire country and allow foreign troops to return home.
But it is still unclear how fast this can be done.
Update: Jim Hoft has much more, along with graphics.