Hans' News and Politics Blog

A Blog of Conservative News, Politics, and Foreign Affairs

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Two articles on the training of the Iraqi Security Forces, first from the Washington Times by General Robert Scales:

I traveled to Iraq this week with a group of military analysts. From my visit I concluded that the greatest change in the military balance over since last summer has been achieved by the Iraqis Security forces. Their story is only partially told by the recent spike in numbers of Iraqi army battalions from only a few a year ago to 117 today. But soldiers know that the effectiveness of a fighting force is better measured by intangibles such as courage, will to win, skill at arms, leadership, cohesion and allegiance to a higher cause. These are factors that media amateurs and Washington insiders have difficulty comprehending.

And next from the Wall Street Journal by General David Patraeus:

Thus was born the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, or "min-sticky"--an awkward acronym even by military standards. One of Gen. Petraeus's frustrations is getting people to understand that things really have changed since then.

"Is Joe Biden convinced?" I ask, referring to the Delaware senator who spent the summer claiming that only a handful of Iraqi battalions were of any use. "You'll have to ask him," replies the general, launching into a survey of the state of play: "There are now nearly 120 army and police combat battalions [about 750 men each] that are 'in the fight.' And 'in the fight' by the transition readiness assessment means they are either Level One, Level Two or Level Three. Now certainly, roughly 80 of those are Level Three, which means 'fighting alongside.' In other words they're fighting literally side by side with our forces. They're not yet capable of independent operations on their own."

But "nearly 40 now are Level Two or better. . . . That's hugely significant because it's at Level Two, at the 'in the lead' category, that means they're doing independent operations. They're not fully independent though, and that's what Level One means. It means they need no Coalition assistance whatsoever."

He offers an example: "In one case, one of the units was reassessed from One to Two. It's doing the same mission, by the way, on Haifa Street in Baghdad. It's just a case of someone being asked, 'Are you sure they're really Level One?' and he said, 'Well maybe they do need a little help from the Coalition in logistics so I guess they properly should be Level Two.' The truth is they actually got a little bit better in that month or two since they were reassessed. . . . They own their own area of operations."

I can vouch for the general's assessment of the Haifa Street unit's performance, as well as that of the Iraqi forces now manning Baghdad's once-perilous airport road. I was there in June 2004, when one couldn't be sure if the few Iraqi forces visible were the real thing or impostors who might kidnap you and sell you to the highest bidder. Today smartly outfitted ISF are visible everywhere.

"People keep asking, 'When will Iraqi security forces take over from Coalition forces?' " says Gen. Petraeus. "Well, they've been doing it for months. . . . There was a ceremony a few months back when Coalition forces transferred security responsibilities to Iraqis in Najaf. The same thing happened just a few weeks ago in Karbala. Mostly recently, within the last week, four districts within Baghdad have been transitioned to Iraqi security force control and I think that's roughly 20% of Baghdad."

Read the whole thing and don't buy into the partisan sniping against the ISF and our efforts in Iraq.


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