Iraqi Navy Making Progress
Coalition naval operations deter terrorist inroads
The commander of U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf on September 22 said coalition forces are helping build a new Iraqi Navy.
Navy Vice Admiral David Nichols, who commands the U.S. 5th Fleet, told reporters at the Pentagon via a telephone conference call, that the Iraqi Navy still is relatively small. Currently, he said, the Iraqis have six patrol boats and about 700 sailors and 400 marines.
"Weíre helping build capability and capacity in the new Iraqi Navy," he said. "We work closely with the [United Kingdom]-led team," Nichols said.
The vice admiral said the Iraqi Navy is making good progress, but added that "there is plenty of work to be done there to continue to help the Iraqi Navy build [security capacity] particularly the sustainment, logistics support [and] other kind of capacity itís going to need to be operationally effective."
While still small, the Iraqi Navy already is integrated into maritime security operations in the northern Gulf, Nichols said, and Iraqi marines are keeping watch on Iraqi oil platforms there.
Coalition forces are patrolling the region "to prevent the terrorists from using the maritime environment as a venue for terrorist attack," he said, "or as an enabler for terrorist attack ashore."
Nichols said Pakistan is the only regional country that is integrated full time into coalition maritime operations. "Pakistan has been a member of the coalition force for over a year now and has made some very important contributions," he said.
In addition to Pakistan, Nichols also cited Saudi Arabia as one of a number of nations that are contributing to counterterrorism operations.
The coalition also includes maritime contributions from Canada, Singapore and the Netherlands. Nichols also pointed to Japanís important contribution.
"We donít think that the maritime environment is routinely being used to move terrorists or terrorist-related equipment around the region," he said. Nichols attributed this, in part, to the deterrent effect of the maritime operations, as well as contributions from and coordination with forces in the Horn of Africa.
Source: U.S. Department of State
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