MOSUL, Iraq – Dozens of retired Iraqi military leaders pledged Wednesday to help the United States restore order to this northern city, where violence drew Marines into confrontations that killed 17 Iraqis last week.
A group of about 40 retired Iraqi generals met with Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, after the U.S. military appealed for officers to come forward to help restore calm to Mosul.
"You all clearly know the war is over," Petraeus told the retired generals. "Now is the time for reconciliation, for renewal and rebirth. It's a time to come together."
The Iraqis listened closely to Petraeus with the help of a translator, and some smiled when he said it was refreshing to be in the north, compared to life in the parched south.
"Now your country needs your talents, your experience and your skills" as it did in years past, Petraeus said. "As you all know very, very well, the attitude of the leader becomes the attitude of the unit."
The 2nd Brigade of the 101st moved into Mosul on Tuesday, occupying with virtually no resistance a city that once housed the northern headquarters of the Iraqi army.
On Wednesday, U.S. forces fanned out across the city, establishing four sectors of control in a show of force to bring an end to lingering violence and looting.
Petraeus said he was aware of the cultural significance of Mosul -- Iraq's third-largest city -- and its emphasis on higher education, medicine and producing military leaders. About 50 percent of the Iraqi army's officer corps was from the Mosul area.
He asked the men for help in getting people to pinpoint the location of unexploded ordnance and weapons stockpiles and encouraging them to obey laws.
Retired Maj. Gen. Ghanim al-Baso, who stood and thanked Petraeus for coming, said the officers want to see calm restored to the city and were willing to work with the Army.
"We would be very happy to do whatever we can," al-Baso said.
The offer of help likely was a relief to U.S. troops, who must contend with the outrage of Mosul residents following deadly confrontations involving U.S. Marines. Hospital officials say 17 people died last week in two shooting incidents.
The officers were told that they should not feel shame in having served in the Iraqi military, said Maj. Jim Bullion, a civil affairs officers from the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion. Bullion said they were checking the backgrounds of the men who attended the meeting to make sure they are not on the U.S. government's wanted list.
During a stop in Mosul on Wednesday, U.S. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the Army's V Corps commander, said meetings with Army leaders and Iraqis will help rebuild the country.
"You go to meetings, you convince them that by your mere presence, that the security situation is going to be OK," Wallace said. "The regime really is gone, that they really, really do have something to say about the future."