Lt. Gen. David Petraeus yesterday:
More than 115 Iraqi police and army combat battalions are in the counterinsurgency fight, he said. About 80 of the battalions are fighting alongside U.S. forces, which the general said equates to Level 3 readiness in the four-tier readiness rating system. “Over 36 (battalions) are assessed as being ‘in the lead,'” he said. In the lead is the term associated with Level 2 readiness, and means the troops are capable of leading joint patrols, as opposed to merely participating.
Level 1 units are labeled as being “fully independent.” There is one battalion in this category, Petraeus said.
The general said it is a mistake to fixate on the Level 1 unit. He said Americans should to expand their understanding of the readiness levels and what each unit brings to the fight. [emphasis mine]
Regular folks need to learn these esoteric military terms so that they can tell when they are being lied to.
As I said yesterday, the real key is getting Level 3 units up to Level 2. That’s the short- and mid-term priority. Level 1 is long-term for two primary reasons: a) It takes a long friggin’ time and b) The Iraqi army is fighting a defensive war on it’s own territory with support services readily available from Coalition forces.
Meanwhile, here’s more on the quest for Level 1 capability: Taji Depot Ramps Up Training, Supply Efforts:
With 383 Iraqi soldiers, 150 contractors and 20 U.S. soldiers, the depot is responsible for supplying the logistic needs of 10 divisions of the Iraqi Armed Forces, along with regional base support units. Items ranging from weapons and body armor to ambulances and pickup trucks are managed by the depot.
In addition to moving supplies and equipment, the depot’s mission also includes training Iraqi soldiers to operate and maintain it.
Exciting stuff, isn’t it?
Okay, maybe not. But it’s the sort of thing that will get Level 2 units to Level 1. Important in the long term, but we’re building an Iraqi army that’s sharp of “tooth” at the expense of the “tail”. I’d rather have another battalion of combat troops at this point than another couple hundred warehouse clerks, truck drivers, forklift operators, and mechanics, thank-you very much.
More from the Petraeus article:
Iraqis are engaging in long-term planning. They have set up a military academy that has 500 cadets. NATO has set up a staff college to train staff officers for division and higher jobs. The Iraqis have committed to having a professional noncommissioned officer corps and they have set up professional military education facilities to make that happen, Petraeus said. All these movements won’t be felt immediately, but they will certainly help readiness down the road, he added.
The long term is not being ignored. But the long term takes a long time. We need to get there in one piece.
And, using the info in the article, here’s a summary of army and police combat battalions:
- LEVEL1: 1 battalion
- LEVEL 2: 36 battalions
- LEVEL 3: 80 battalions
Recall that all of these units have completed their basic training and are deployable. (LEVEL 4 represents new recruits who have not completed basic training.) The number of Level 3 units is slightly higher than I estimated yesterday.
I think it should be clear to those that understand the rating system that things are not nearly as dire as critics would have us believe. Critics like this.
UPDATE: This headline would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous to the victory of freedom: Fight all but gone out of Iraqi Army. Lies. Lies. Lies.
And here’s another article, and this one’s worth reading: Iraqi Army Training Goes Beyond Combat to Logistics. It includes
Americans conducting the training in Kirkuk say the long-term survival of the Iraqi Army depends on its ability to manage its supplies, care for its sick and protect its bases.
“This is not rocket science. It’s about these guys learning about basic accountability,” said Maj. Anthony Palmieri, a 36-year-old Hoboken, N.J., native who leads the 12-man training group. “Logistics is the key to getting this army to stand on its feet.”
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE 2: I’m a bit shaky on that ’80’ figure for Level 3. I’ve tried to find more info, but most reports on this are along the lines of “OHMYGOD THERE’S ONLY ONE YES ONE!!! IRAQI BATTALION WORTH ANYTHING AND THERE USED TO BE THREE AND WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG I CAN’T BELIEVE THERE’S ONLY ONE IRAQI BATTALION” and it’s difficult to find anything meaningful.
I’m wondering if those 80 battalions “fighting alongside US forces” include the 36 “in the lead”. Personally, I don’t think they do, as 80+36+1 (for levels 1-3) equals 117 which would be the “more than 115” he notes. But I’d like to see more on the numbers.
I guess I’m just posting this thought so cover my donkey in case the 80 at Level 3 really turns out to be 44. I try to make sure my donkey is always covered if I’m not positive about something…