Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Real Surge in Iraq

DJ Elliot, over at The Long War Journal, highlights an extremely important development in the Iraq war: the growth and strengtening of the Iraqi military:

While the "surge" of five US brigades plus their accompanying support elements, about 30,000 US troops total, is the main focus of commentators when discussing the current situation in Iraq, the real surge in Iraq is happening behind the scenes. The rapidly expanding Iraqi Army is where the real surge in forces is occurring.

In November 2006, Prime Minister Maliki understated the real surge when he announced the increase of the Iraqi Army beyond the subjective counterinsurgency force. Maliki’s originally announced plan was an increase of the army by three divisions, five brigades, 20 battalions, and an Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) battalion. He also wanted to increase the manning of existing Iraqi units to 110 percent. At that point, the Iraqi Army was 10 divisions, 35 brigades, 102 battalions, and two ISOF battalions. Most Iraqi Army formations were only approximately 65 percent manned at that time.

Over the last year the Iraqi Army has grown to 12 divisions, 41 brigades, 123 battalions, and four ISOF battalions. This is a 20 percent increase in units and a doubling of the ISOF. This does not include the three former strategic infrastructure brigades (17 battalions) that have been transferred to the Iraqi Army and are currently being retrained. While the Iraqi Army officer and NCO ranks remain undermanned, the overall unit manning has grown to 108 percent during that time. This does not mention the steadily increasing Iraqi Army competence that can only come from combat and counterinsurgency experience.
Read the whole thing.

The Iraqi army is expected to grow to 13 divisions, 52 brigades, 162 battalions, and seven or eight ISOF battalions by the time the U.S. starts a significant drawdown of American troops in early 2009.

Elliot reminds us that a rational for the Petraeus surge was to give Iraqi armed forces breathing space to consolidate and build-up their contingents. This is happening, and they're not pulling out.