Battalion commander from Louisville says Iraqi forces making progress

By Carrie Weil - bio | email
Posted By Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There's now a deadline for troops to leave Iraq. But in the meantime important work continues some of it at the hands of Louisville soldiers. Ballard High School and Centre College graduate Lt. Col. Robert "Doug" Kirby is on his third deployment to Iraq. He's part of the Multi-National Division, Baghdad, and is the commander of the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment.

On February 23rd Kirby's battalion handed over power to Iraqi forces in the area of Karkh. This region includes the infamous Haifa street - known at one time for brutal violence by extremists.

Lt. Col. Kirby told WAVE News via satellite how things have changed.

"Haifa street was a very dangerous area, a lot of attacks, a lot of terrorist or extremists groups operating in the area," Kirby said. "As I drove down Haifa Street about a week ago, you now see families out walking in the streets going to markets, taking their kids to school. When Provencal elections were held, they were taking their kids to polling stations. On holidays you see them in the parks."

Five hundred troops under Lt. Col. Kirby's command are set to come home in the next four to five days. He says they are leaving the region in good hands.

"They (Iraqi forces) are very very capable. One of the benchmarks that we see as a measure of progress is how confident their fellow citizens are in them. They will go to the Iraqi Army and police units in our area and talk with them about security."