View Full Version : U.S. Role in Iraq Security Shifting

02-15-2006, 03:32 PM
14 Feb USA Today - U.S. Role in Iraq Security Shifting (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-02-14-us-role_x.htm).

The U.S. military says 40% of Iraq's combat battalions are effective enough to have taken the lead role in fighting the insurgency, a key measure for determining when U.S. forces can withdraw.

The U.S. military expects to complete the handover of responsibility to nearly all of Iraq's army by the end of the year, meaning Iraq's military will rely on U.S. troops primarily for logistical support and for providing airstrikes and heavy artillery. The main fighting will be conducted by Iraqis.

"When all Iraqi combat battalions own their own battle space, the map of Iraq will be covered," said Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a military spokesman. Battle space refers to the area of responsibility assigned to a military unit.

Currently, 40 of Iraq's 102 battalions have taken over security in the areas where they operate, Col. James Greer, chief of staff for the U.S. military command responsible for training Iraqi troops, said in an interview...

02-15-2006, 04:27 PM
Here's a bit more background detail from CSIS, dated 14 Feb 06: Iraqi Force Development: A Current Status Report July 2005-February 2006 (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060214_iraqforceupdate.pdf)

As of late January 2006, Iraqi forces already totaled some 227,300 personnel. These included 106,900 in the armed forces under the Ministry of Defense: 105,600 army, some 500 air force, and some 800 navy. They included 120,400 in the police and security forces under the Ministry of Interior: 82,400 police and highway patrol, and 38,000 other MOI forces.

A total of more than 130 army and special police battalions, with some 500-800 men each, were fighting in the insurgency. This was seven more battalions than in late October. The army alone had built up to 102 battalions, approaching a current goal of 110 combat battalions. The number of Iraqi brigades (with a nominal three battalions each) had grown from nearly zero in early 2005 to 31. There were eight divisions in formation and Iraq was headed towards a total of 10.

By early December, a total of 50 battalions were at Level 1-3 readiness and active in dealing with the insurgency. In March 2005, there were only three battalions manning their own areas — all in Baghdad. A total of 24 battalions were in charge of their own battle space in October and 33 in late December. In January 2006, the US army transferred an area of operation to an entire Iraqi army division for the first time in Qadissiya and Wassit provinces, an active combat area south of Baghdad. In early February 2006, 40 of the army’s 102 battalions had taken over security in the areas where they operated, and in contested areas, such as parts of Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra.

This progress occurred in spite of the fact that the Sunni Arab insurgents focused their attacks on fellow Iraqis and hit hard at every element of Iraqi forces. The insurgents also struck at virtually every other element of Iraqi society, and attacked Shi’ite Arab and Kurdish political leaders, religious figures and journalists, other members of the Iraqi elite, and ordinary citizens -- often in the form of suicide bombings that created mass casualties. The most extreme Sunni Islamists clearly had the goal of paralyzing the Iraqi political process, and such extremist groups attacked Shi’ite and Kurds in a way that seemed designed to provoke a major civil conflict.

Such progress, however, is not yet sufficient to guarantee either any meaningful force of Iraqi victory, or the ability of the US to make major troop withdrawals and still claim success. The following remaining problems in shaping effective Iraqi forces must still be addressed:

- Ensuring that they will act as national forces, and not Shi’ite and Kurdish forces,

- Giving Iraqi combat battalions better balance and support,

- Giving the security and police forces the same level of training and advisory support as the regular Iraqi forces,

- Matching force development with political development and inclusiveness

- Supporting Iraqi forces with effective governance by civil authorities.

Regular Iraqi military forces still lack balance. They are still lightly equipped, and an initial emphasis on putting as many combat units into the field as possible, means they lack adequate headquarters, support, and logistic units. As a result, major further improvements are still needed in the regular forces that will take well into 2007, and require sustained US advisory efforts, aid, and military support – both as operators and as trainers/advisors for at least several years after 2007.