Top US military commander in Iraq General Raymond Odierno has issued new orders to troops in anticipation of the new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which goes into effect at the end of the month.
According to the General, “US forces will continue to be authorized to engage in combat operations,” but now they will coordinate those operations with the approval of the Iraqi government, as required by the SOFA. Gen. Odierno says the focus will still be “on combating al-Qaeda and other extremist groups,” with the primary difference being that now “we must do so with respect for the Iraqi constitution and laws.”
Under the soon-to-expire UN mandate, the US military virtually had the run of the nation. With virtually no legal recourse for any actions taken by the forces, Iraqi civilians were subjected to unannounced and sometimes random searches as well as routine, open-ended detentions without any charges being filed against them.
This is just the latest move by the US military to prepare for the new rules it faces when operating on Iraqi soil. Last month, it was announced that they would begin applying for warrants before searching homes or detaining suspects.