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Iraqi Premier Restructures Security Forces

Prague, 20 June 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced today that all security forces in the country must report to his office in an effort to control a wave of violence sweeping the country ahead of the transfer of power to an interim government on 30 June.

Allawi also announced the formation of elite Iraqi military units to combat insurgent groups. "Our strategy is simple," Allawi said. "We will use all of our strength, energy and determination to bring peace, democracy and prosperity to Iraq. All Iraqi security forces will be brought together against the enemies of good."

Allawi told journalists in Baghdad today that under his direction, the immediate priority is to establish an effective Iraqi command-and-control system to integrate all Iraqi security forces. Allawi said he will have the ultimate responsibility for national security.

Allawi also appealed for international help to bring Iraqi security forces up to their full capabilities. Until that goal is reach, he said, Iraq will continue to need support from the U.S.-led coalition.

Under Allawi's plan, Iraqi military forces will report to him through the chief of staff of the armed forces and through the defense minister. Police and other security forces will report to the prime minister's office through the Interior Ministry and other respective ministries.

Allawi said his plan has laid the foundation for creating a national directorate for internal security. He said the top priority is to train and equip specialized units to attack terrorists and insurgents before they have opportunities to attack innocent civilians.

"Our brave police forces will be at the front lines in this fight," Allawi said. "Specialized police units now being trained and equipped for counterterrorism, riot control, and counterinsurgency will support our provincial police departments."

Allawi said the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps will be renamed the Iraqi National Guard and that it will come under the command of the army. The army also will include what Allawi called "Iraqi intervention forces" and Iraqi "special forces."

For the foreseeable future, Allawi said the primary mission of the Iraqi National Guard will be internal security operations and offering support to Iraqi police. Toward that goal, he said, the Iraqi National Guard is being expanded to include six regional headquarters, 18 brigade headquarters, and at least 50 battalions.

Allawi said other Iraqi security forces also will be mobilized against terrorists and insurgents. He said border guards will be deployed with high-tech equipment to prevent foreign fighters from entering Iraq. He said the Iraqi air force also will help monitor the country's oil infrastructure, which was paralyzed again in the past week by sabotage attacks:

"The enemies of Iraq continue to attack oil, electricity, water, and other essential services -- degrading our quality of life and the economic potentials," Allawi said. "We will secure these vital national assets by improving the forces that guard them and by better coordination with the local police."

Allawi said he had drew up the security plans after consultations with U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the British Defense Ministry's top civil servant, Kevin Tebbit.

Iraq has witnessed a dramatic increase in suicide bombings, assassinations, and guerrilla attacks since Allawi's interim government was unveiled at the beginning of this month.

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