Monday, October 10, 2005

Compare and Contrast --- Iraqi troop strength and competency

The Opinionated Bastard seems to be convinced that a milestone or at tipping point has been achieved in Iraq because the latest sweep in the Euphrates River Valley, the place where the USMC has taken, left, retaken, left, retaken, left, retaken, left and now retaken and leaving Haditha again, has stay behind forces from the all too numerous and competent Iraqi security forces.

If this is true and if those forces are competent, legitimately accepted as the sole agent of legitimate force by the Sunni Arab population, numerous and well supported, I would agree with the Opinionated Bastard. However this raid and leave follow-on forces behind strategy has been tried numerous times in the Sunni dominated areas of the country. So far none of those locations in which the US raids and then Iraqi units try to occupy have stabilized as long as US troops are in the area (the best indicator that the dominant insurgency groups are anti-US first).

The US has tried this strategy in Samarra for instance where the 3rd Infantry Division conducted a large brigade sized operation in October 2004 to clear the city and hand it over to five battalions of Iraqi police, soldiers and special security forces. Now via the Fourth Rail we again learn that Samarra is a nest of insurgent activity to the point that the Baghdad government is threatening to do to Samarra what it did to Tal Afar. This is because the five battalions of Iraqi security forces that were deployed to Samarra and minimally backed by a compant of American MPs have failed due to low motivation, low morale, a high degree of civilian hostility, a high degree of insurgent infilitration and a low level of training.

Maybe this time the light really is at the end of the tunnel, but at this point, we have been hit by reality trains often enough that I am not betting on this outcome until we see more evidence that can counteract the far more negative outlook that emerges from Billmon's examination of the recent public announcement segment of the historical record:

Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.
George W. Bush
Speech to National Endowment for Democracy
October 6, 2005

I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country.
George W. Bush
Radio Address
October 1, 2005

Until a couple of weeks ago, [Gen. David] Petraeus was in charge of the U.S. effort to train and equip Iraqi forces. In perhaps the most detailed public account so far of the state of Iraq's forces he said 115 army combat and special police battalions were rated as being "in the fight."
United Press International
Analysis: Training Iraqi army a slow process
October 6, 2005

We have more than a hundred Iraqi army and special police battalions participating with us in conducting counterinsurgency operations.
Gen George Casey
Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee
September 29, 2005

I think we have 86 Iraqi army battalions today that are operating with us.
Gen. Richard Myers
Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee
September 29, 2005

The 115 Iraqi army and special police battalions already declared battle ready . . . are still well short of the 185,000 troops a Pentagon spokesman recently cited for total Iraqi security forces.
Inside the Pentagon
Officers Worry Iraqi Army Will
Disintegrate After U.S. Draws Down
September 15, 2005

Public statements by Bush Administration officials about the number of ISF personnel grew unrealistic a short time after the invasion, and soon skyrocketed out of control. By June 2004 . . . the Administration was claiming that over 200,000 ISF troops had been trained. This estimate . . . turned out to be the total number of people on the ISF payrolls, including administrative staff, deserters, and countless others unfit to fight. It also included over 70,000 Facilities Protection Service officers, which have been described as being similar to night watchmen, who had received only one week of training. The Administration was forced to revise its estimate downward to 95,000 within three months, a number which Pentagon documents later proved still to be an overly optimistic assessment.
Senate Democratic Policy Committee
Has the Bush Administration
Leveled With the American People
About the Readiness of Iraqi Security Forces?
September 12, 2005

GEN. CASEY: We fully recognize that Iraqi armed forces will not have an independent capability for some time, because they don't have the institutional base to support them. And so Level 1, as you'll recall from the slide, that's what's got one battalion. And it's going to be a long time before . . .
SEN. MCCAIN: Used to be three. Now we've gone from three to one?

GEN. CASEY: Pardon me?

SEN. MCCAIN: It was three before.

GEN. CASEY: Right.

SEN. MCCAIN: The previous report was you had three battalions. Now we're down to one battalion.

GEN. CASEY: Right, and things change in the battalions. I mean, we're making assessments on personnel, on leadership, on training.

SEN. MCCAIN: And you . . .

GEN. CASEY: I mean, there are a lot of variables


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