With the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq

News Briefing with Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey

Here are a few snippets from earlier today:

100 battalions of Iraqi army soldiers are conducting security operations throughout the country; another 27 battalions of special police are distributed around the country, providing a bridge between combat operations and civil police operations. The Iraqi navy is guarding its coastline and protecting the offshore oil platforms. The Iraqi air force is moving supplies throughout the country, including some of the materials necessary for the upcoming elections. Iraqi border police are manning 170 border forts and 22 ports of entry; 75,000 Iraqi policemen are patrolling Iraq cities, and another 7,300 Iraqi policemen are in training. Two thousand seven hundred Iraqi soldiers are in training. Five hundred army officer cadets and 286 police officer cadets are in training. It’s important to note that the majority of the instructors conducting this training are Iraqi instructors.

Today, when an Iraqi soldier or a policeman joins the service, he or she pledges an oath to Iraq and to its constitution.

In the elections of January 2005, approximately 130,000 Iraqi security forces secured the polling sites. When the elections of December 2005 occur in just a few weeks, 225,000 Iraqi security forces will secure the polling sites.

Here’s a bit on the current and planned force levels for the various security organizations in Iraq:

What is the plan for the end state in terms of the size of the Iraqi army, the size of the other elements of the military — Iraqi military, the Iraqi police? And when do you foresee getting there?

We’ve got a force that we’ve agreed upon with the current sitting government. And of course, when the new government comes in, we’ll have some opportunities there to discuss that with them, as well.

Right now we’re building a 10-division army. It’s a light infantry army with some enablers that will allow it to have some ability to project force around the country, and at end state, it will number approximately 160,000.

The police — to talk about the MOI forces, we really have to break it down into the separate components. There are special police, and there’s approximately 25,000 of those. They’re almost at end state now, and those are commandos and public order battalions. And then there is the what you and I would describe as the station-house police. And based on a ratio of approximately one to 200 by population, that number comes out to about 135,000. And we’re right at about 75,000 trained and equipped right now. We train about 3,500 every couple of months at a variety of institutions both inside Iraq and out. Then there’s also border police. We need 27,000 border police; we’re at 18,000. There’s a 6,000-man highway patrol; we have 3,000.

I think the simplest way to answer your question about end state is that that force as I just described it is the agreed-upon force. We call it the objective COIN force, counterinsurgency force, because it has the necessary capabilities broadly to provide internal security. And the army will largely be built out in ’06 and the police will be largely built out in the first half of ’07.

And speaking of the police:

The special police, in particular, provide a vital function in countering the insurgents and terrorist and foreign fighter threat because they are a bridge for us. You heard me mention, if we have a problem in a particular city, we generally use the military — or the Iraqis generally use the military to restore stability. And then these commandos come in, because they’ve got some policing skills, some civil security skills, but they’ve also got some top-end combat skills, and that’s our bridge while we retrain, if necessary, or recruit and then train some of the police that may have been overwhelmed by these insurgents. So the special police, in particular, have a definite role in the counterinsurgency.

You know, the local police — it’s really our goal — our long-range goal here is to restore civil security. And so we’ve armed the police different than we might have armed police in another environment. I mean, they typically have access to AK-47s, for example, and body armor and helmets and things that you wouldn’t expect a normal police force elsewhere to look like. But we’ve got to walk away from that, and we’ve got to get to the point where the police are truly an element of local civil control, as opposed to counterinsurgent forces. And all that is being worked as part of this 2006 year of the police that I mentioned.

He also notes that Article 117 of the Iraqi constitution outlaws militia groups but that the provision is made for home guards or regions guards:

Frankly, the Iraqi government has to figure out what they mean by that. And I think you’ll find this new government to take that on.

When you ask how serious is it [the militia problem], the seriousness of it is more or less in that it undermines the Iraqi security forces that we’re training and equipping as the sole provider, the legitimate source of authority and force in Iraq. And so it is serious problem, and one which, you know, we all work on. And now — as you know, we don’t tolerate the presence of militias when we encounter it.

And secondly, we do on the other hand encourage individuals who might have been part of a militia to come into service as individuals not as units, and that has actually worked out okay. I mean, in even in my first tour here, I had the occasion to do some of that. And if they come in, and if they pledge this oath, and if they then demonstrate that they will live up to it, typically it turns out okay. But yeah, we’ve got some work to do in that regard.

He closed with a “Beat Navy!”


  1. Well………..that’s real nice. What I’m hearing from numerous contractors and/or military personnel; who’ve recently rotated out of Iraq from training and advisory missions is: The state of Iraqi police and military forces is MUCH better than we are led to believe by the liberal socialist media with their defeatist agenda to push, would have us believe. That’s all well and good. On the other hand……..the same Iraqi forces are to a large degree a joke by western (i.e. U.S. & U.K.) standards. They’re frequently underequipped, not well motivated, hamstrung by their Arabic and Islamic culture (more on that in a minute), only too willing to engage in internecine infighting rather than taking it to the common enemy, and not nearly as ready for action as the Bushites and their minions would have us believe (though it’s hard to imagine a governmental entity and personnel who’ve made some horrendous mistakes in conducting this ‘war’ would have their own ‘counter agenda’ to push). One could argue all day about what constitutes being ‘under equipped’ as far as the newly trained Iraqi units go. It could be an issue of the coalition failing to provide much more than helmets, AKs, and uniforms, or a case of Arabic unwillingness to take ownership of their own future. Many Arabs (in my own experience and that of the people I’ve spoken with) have a welfare mentality. They’ll sit around and whine eternally about how they’re not being ‘given’ enough of this or that, and that’s why they can’t do anything about whatever problem is being discussed. All too frequently, there’s a real lack of maturity and willingness to take ownership of problems and issues, to take charge of their own future as it were. It’s much easier for them to bitch about others. I think a lot of this descends from paternalistic Arabic culture, that enables tribal elders, political leaders, and despots to all to easily hold sway over their ‘group’ by the dispensation of resources and favors; consequently stifling the individual initiative and self reliance we westerners take for granted. There is also the cultural factor or tribal or group loyalty; rather than apolitical professional dedication to the state. This tends to foster a mentality of if you don’t grab hold of all you can and hold on to it…….then the other guy will. And frequently that’s what’s happening in a number of the Arab countries. It makes for chaos, disunity, and disorganization on a grand scale (yes there are exceptions to this sad state…..we need to encourage and sustain them until they’re the rule; not the exceptions). Did I mention the Iraqi SWAT unit from the Basra area, who reported for duty and requested their entire ammunition allotment be replaced by their western trainers & benefactors as they were out of ammo? Under questioning as to what ‘contact’ they’d had and what insurgent group they thought they had it with (BTW where are the after action reports and firearms use critiques?)the SWAT unit sheepishly admitted they’d blown off their entire ammunition inventory at a wedding celebration the previous evening. This is only one of dozens of damning cultural anectedotes on why many Iraqis/Arabs aren’t professionally (or mature enough) ready to run their own operations The real challenge in Iraq and elsewhere, is not equipping Arab allies properly, or teaching them modern law enforcement and counter terrorism techniques. It’s changing their cultural attitudes and loyalties so they can establish the underpinnings of a truly pluralistic society (albeit Arab/Islamic in nature……as it should be)with all the necessary apolitical & professional governmental support structures and organizations necessary to sustain their country.

  2. Many Arabs (in my own experience and that of the people I’ve spoken with) have a welfare mentality. They’ll sit around and whine eternally about how they’re not being ‘given’ enough of this or that, and that’s why they can’t do anything about whatever problem is being discussed. All too frequently, there’s a real lack of maturity and willingness to take ownership of problems and issues, to take charge of their own future as it were. It’s much easier for them to bitch about others.’ GEEZ Flanker, If it weren’t for the fact that you injected the word ‘ARAB’ at the beginning of your (VERY ACCURATE) ‘cultural description’ I would have sworn you were referring to a majority of EUROPEANS. OMFG, now that I think about it very soon a majority of Europeans WILL be Arabs!

  3. Good point on the Euros! LOL! The Islamic Republic of Holland……..does have a nice ring to it……….doesn’t it? LOL!