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Iraqi army capable of defending country: military officer

By Zhang Ning (Xinhua)

09:42, December 15, 2011

COS ECHO, Iraq, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi army is ready to fully take security responsibility for the country after the pullout of the U.S. troops by the end of the year, Lt. Col. Mohammed Saidy told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Sipping hot sweat Middle East black tea under warm cozy sunshine, Saidy said that "the Iraqi army is capable of defending our own country." It was only minutes after the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry division handed over the Cos Echo (Camp Echo) to the Iraqi government.

Cos Echo, located in the central Diwaniyah province, was among 504 once U.S.-controlled bases having been returned to Iraqi hands. Only one U.S. camp awaits transfer, as the U.S. force has drawn down to less than 5,000 from its height number of 170,000.

The last camp is to be handed over in a couple of days and the remaining U.S. troops are all departing before the Dec. 31 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline.

"Compared with Saddam (Hussein)'s military force, the current army is not able to launch an attack on a neighbor country but capable enough to counter terror attacks or inner conflicts," said Saidy, garrison commander of the Iraqi Army's 8th division.

The 42-year-old Saidy, who served in the army for more than 20 years and even under former president Saddam, acknowledged the fact that the new army, which was set up in the wake of the 2003 U. S. invasion, lacks competence in logistics, mobilization above battalion level and coordination between the ground force and the artillery.

However, he said that these shortcomings will hardly be the drawback for the army when tackling insurgent militias and terror militants.

"We don't need American help to maintain the security and I am happy that they (the Americans) are going home," said Saidy, who has served at Cos Echo since 2004.

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