Command of Iraq's ground forces has been turned over to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Iraqi leaders have also been given control of Iraq's air force and navy. Before the transfer, Iraq's military had been administered jointly by Iraqi authorities and the U.S.-led coalition. Prime Minister Maliki said, "This is the message I have for the terrorists: we will see that you get great punishment wherever you are. There is nothing for you but prison and punishment."
In Baghdad, U.S. Army Major General William Caldwell says this is "a huge, significant event":
"It will mark the first time. . . .since 2003 that Iraqi security forces will be commanded and controlled directly from the prime minister, down to the minister of defense, to the joint headquarters through the Iraqi ground forces command structure, down to the individual Iraqi soldier on the ground."
General Caldwell said that the transfer is another indicator of the Iraqi security forces' increasing capability. Currently, six of the Iraqi army's ten divisions are responsible for maintaining security in Kirkuk, Samarra, Tikrit, and elsewhere. Iraqi army forces are "maintaining the lead in coordinating, planning, and conducting security operations," said General Caldwell. He said, "With more and more Iraqi security forces in the lead, the number of counterinsurgency operations being conducted by Iraqi security forces, with coalition forces in support, continues to increase steadily."
President George W. Bush says that terrorists "are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi people. But despite large casualties, both civilian and military, the Iraqi people continue to stand for public office, enlist in their security forces, and, through their actions, demonstrate every day that they want to raise their families and live their lives like other free people around the world."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.