CENTCOM Moves HQ Back to Iraq Region

The general running the war in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, will move his headquarters back to the region beginning next week, because of the rise in attacks on U.S., allied and Iraqi targets, military officials told ABCNEWS.

By moving his headquarters back to Doha, Qatar, Abizaid will be able to move in and out of the war zone, making it easier for him to keep track of the situation, the sources said. He will also be in the same time zone, allowing him and his staff to act more quickly on intelligence, the sources added.

Since taking command of U.S. Central Command, which covers the Middle East, in July, Abizaid has run the Iraq war from CENTCOM's permanent base in Tampa, Fla.

Abizaid has made frequent trips to the region — a grueling 7,000-mile commute across the Atlantic Ocean. The arrangement will allow U.S. officials more planning and operation capabilities.

Although Abizaid's predecessor, Gen. Tommy Franks, left Qatar on May 1, the day after Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over, Doha never officially closed as a headquarters. It is considered a "split headquarters," along with Tampa.

The move to Qatar will involve about 400 people on the CENCTOM staff, and they are expected to be there at least two months.

A Deteriorating Situation

Abizaid did not mention his plans to move to the region today at his regular briefing in Tampa, but he did address the deteriorating security in Iraq that sources say is the major reason for the move.

"Clearly I feel a sense of urgency with regard to the current military situation," he said.

Today, U.S. forces hit opposition targets in Baghdad once more. AC-130 gunships pummeled a former Republican Guard building where enemy forces were said to be operating.

Abizaid acknowledged that violence in Iraq has increased substantially in the past few weeks.

"Part of the reason is that the enemy has learned to adjust to our tactics, techniques and procedures. We have learned to adjust to his," he said.

Iraq is a country of 25 million people, but the general estimated that there are only about 5,000 opposition fighters.

"Now people will say, 'That's a very small number,' but when you understand that they're organized in cellular structure, that they have a brutal and determined cadre, that they know how to operate covertly, they have access to a lot of money and a lot of ammunition, you'll understand how dangerous they are," he said.

Timeline of Carnage

A U.S. intelligence official said there is clearly coordination in the major attacks, with targets chosen to increase the fear in Americans and anyone who helps them.

On Aug. 7, a car bomb at the Jordanian embassy killed at least 19 people.

Less than two weeks later, a truck bomb at U.N. killed 23.

On Oct.14, a car bomb at Turkish headquarters killed one.

On Oct. 27, bombers killed at least 34 at the International Red Cross headquarters.

On Nov. 12, a bomb in Nasiriyah left at least 26 Italians dead.

ABCNEWS' Martha Raddatz contributed to this report.

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