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Frontline Report:  US Forces Work Quickly to Re-Establish Order in Baghdad - 2003-04-09

VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu is with U.S. forces in Baghdad. She gave an update to VOA's Al Pessin in London.

PESSIN: Alisha, we are seeing, live on television, U.S. tanks right in the center of Baghdad on both sides of the river. What can you tell us about the status of the city?

RYU: Well, the status seems to be very, very calm. From all the military commanders I have spoken to, this is no longer an incursion, this is an actual moving into the city, and there has been absolutely no resistance so far. I mean there are certainly little pockets here and there, but, they tell us, nothing like what they have seen in the past few days when they did their probing attacks into the city. They are not quite certain why they have not met much resistance. Perhaps the people feel that the Iraqi government has lost control of the city and they feel a lot safer about it, but they have not had much resistance so far, and they're hoping that this will continue.

PESSIN: Another thing that has been going on is a tremendous amount of looting, apparently of government buildings, by the Iraqis in Baghdad. What is the military going to do to try to restore order to the city?

RYU: Well, the military commanders here say that they are very concerned about it. They are worried about this civil disturbance, and they want to bring some sort of order as quickly as possible, of course. They emphasize that this is not a citywide type of looting situation. These are pockets of areas that are being looted, and there are still large sections of city that have not been touched.

But in those areas where there is a disturbance, they are concerned, and what they intend to do is they would like to bring in a lot more infantry forces to come in and bring some order to the lawlessness that is going on, and how many troops is unclear at the moment. They are talking as big as two divisions and a Marine expeditionary force. That could be tens of thousands of soldiers.

Baghdad is a very, very large city. It needs a lot of security. What they say that they need, ultimately, is a police force. They do not have one right now because the police force worked for the Iraqi government, and so they would have to start from scratch. And perhaps they are looking at the Afghan model of trying to recruit local people and trying to get them into a police-academy type of situation where they are teaching police tactics and those kinds of things, you know, crowd control, and get those people in to the system as quickly as possible, to act as the local police.

PESSIN: Is there any progress to report on efforts to restore power and water to the city?

RYU: Not yet. I think what is happening is that they have found telephone numbers and addresses of people who worked in water departments, in electrical departments, power departments, and what they are trying to do is they are trying to contact those Iraqis who used to work in those areas and try to bring them back, because a lot of this equipment is not familiar to American engineers. [It was] made elsewhere. And they would really like to have someone who is familiar with [that] equipment to come back and to put the system back on. And right now the hunt is on for those engineers in Baghdad who know how these things work.