By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Though securing Baghdad means eliminating "a grave threat to soldiers" linked to Iran, Multinational Corps-Iraq's mission remains focused within Iraq's borders, the corps' commander said Tuesday.
Intelligence reports link powerful roadside bombs the Army calls explosively formed projectiles to Iran. The bombs turn into something like a giant bullet when they explode and easily can penetrate armored vehicles.
The intelligence indicates the bombs are "directly related to materials shipped from Iran," Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said during a short video teleconference linking his office in Baghdad to the 1st Cavalry Division's Fort Hood headquarters.
The bombs are nothing new, and U.S. troops continue to adjust how they work to avoid the bombs and minimize their damage, said Odierno, who commands III Corps along with Multinational Corps-Iraq.
While the corps' mission includes apprehending people providing materials and funding for the bombs, soldiers will continue to focus on security in Baghdad, Odierno said, referring to questions about whether Iran will be a future front in the war on terrorism to the Pentagon. Federal offices closed early Tuesday because of an ice storm in Washington.
As Baghdad becomes safer, Iraq's government can concentrate on providing more services and providing them to everyone, regardless of religious sect, Odierno said.
The call from President Bush to send an additional 21,500 troops to Baghdad allows for more concentrated troop levels in hot spots, Odierno said.
In an effort to make Baghdad safer, coalition troops and Iraqi soldiers and police maintain a constant presence in all Baghdad neighborhoods, Odierno said.
Joint security stations, which essentially are police stations, have been built around Baghdad to "get a better sense of who is conducting violence and who isn't," Odierno said.
About 15 have been built already, and about 30 are planned total, Odierno said.
The existing police stations are being fortified to better serve the force, said Brig. Gen. Joe Anderson, III Corps' chief of staff in a Jan. 22 telephone interview. The stations are being surrounded with barriers and are being equipped with better surveillance equipment and more computers and communications equipment, Anderson said.
Coalition forces continue to train about 3,000 new Iraqi police officers every month, Odierno said.
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