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MARINES TO WITHDRAW FROM FALLUJA

"A new Iraqi security force made up of former Iraqi soldiers and commanders will replace the American troops now in Falluja and assume responsibility for the city's security," the New York Times reports.

The new force, known as the Falluja Protection Army, will include as many as 1,000 Iraqi soldiers led by a former general from the army of Saddam Hussein, American military officials said. A Marine commander, Col. Brennan Byrne, said the force will be a subordinate command of the American military...Marines in Falluja and encircling the city were briefed today on the agreement to form a new Iraqi military division. The plan is supposed to take effect beginning on Friday. Some Marine units were already beginning to pack up today in preparation for the withdrawal, news services reported.The new Iraqi force represents an about-face for the American authorities, who disbanded the Iraqi army following the fall of Mr. Hussein.
Quick question -- three, actually:1) Have Iraqi forces shown any ability whatsoever to put down insurgent forces? These former Saddam-ites will probably be more ruthless than their predecessors. But will they be any more effective?2) Why have AC-130 gunships pound the hell out of the city one day, only to abandon it the next?3) Is the pullback of U.S. troops from an area already known as the "Iraqi Alamo" going to be seen as a sensible, mutually beneficial settlement, or as a complete and total victory for anti-American forces?Chris Allbritton has much more on the withdrawal's many meanings.THERE'S MORE: Why use the big gunships right before pulling out? "It was to provide incentive to come to agreement, and to root out easy targets before a deal was struck," says Defense Tech reader TM. The insurgents most assuredly were using the 'cease-fire' time to dig in for the next assault... Bringing in the AC-130s was a low (military) liability, but highly effective means of bearing a lot of pressure on insurgents without exposing US GIs."
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