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!”