Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus says Iraqis are taking back their country, and offers some specifics on how "levels of readiness" are assigned, what they really mean, and how many battalions are in each level. A must-read if you want to really understand the progress in this regard.

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.

Level 3 units fight alongside coalition forces. These units contribute personnel, language capabilities, maintain guard posts and set up traffic checkpoints even as they learn from their coalition counterparts. A Level 3 battalion works with a U.S. unit in guarding Airport Road in Baghdad, he said.

Of the more than 36 units at Level 2, most have their own areas of operation. Seven Iraqi battalions in Baghdad alone have their own areas of responsibility, the general said, and more than 10 Iraqi battalions operated in and around Tal Afar during the fighting there.

Sixteen Iraqi battalions are operating in eastern Anbar province - a mixture of Level 2 and Level 3 units.

"Three Iraqi battalions - all Level 2 -- ... secure Haifa Street (in Baghdad), that was known as 'Purple Heart Boulevard,'" the general said.

Iraqi security force numbers and readiness have been moving steadily upward over the course of the last 15 months, Petraeus said. "The Iraqis are in this fight," he said. "They are fighting and dying for their country. And they are fighting increasingly well."

God bless these martyrs for freedom.

UPDATE: Lets's see 36 battalions, conservatively that should be 36 x 500 = 18,000 Iraqis "taking the lead." 80 battalions x 500 = 40,000 Iraqis "in the fight." Given that these numbers were close to zero a year ago, it's a good bet they will double or more in the next year, meaning a lot of U.S. troops will probably be heading home. I'm guessing U.S. force levels will be somewhere between 25,000 and 75,000 in Oct 2006, depending on how the insurgency and political process go.

UPDATE II: Some excellent coverage of this subject by Murdoc.

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