With patience a soldier is bred


Drawing down in Iraq?

According to top army generals, it may be sooner, rather than later, that we see significant troops cuts in Iraq. Apparently Iraqi forces are coming on line more quickly than was planned:

The Army’s second-ranking general said Thursday that the number of American troops in Iraq would probably decline by early 2006, largely because of post-election progress in combating insurgents and training more Iraqi troops to take over security duties.

The officer, Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, did not give specific figures, emphasizing that the decision would be made next month by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, and senior Pentagon officials. But other senior military officials said American troop levels could drop to around 105,000 by early next year from 150,000 now.

45,000 is a significant reduction. If you were to compare it to a modern division, it would be a reduction of 2+ divisions. In this case it will most likely be a division plus and a part of the logistical tail which would be needed to support those troops.

Obviously a full draw down of US troops in Iraq will require a full stand up of Iraqi forces. But today the quality of Iraqi forces vary widely. The US mission has shifted twice now, from combat to security and now to training. The training mission is now the key to success in Iraq, both for the nation and for the withdrawal of US troops:

To speed the training, General Cody announced Thursday that 666 Army officers and senior enlisted soldiers would be dispatched to Iraq to work with the Iraqis as part of a shift away from combat operations.

In addition, he said 1,140 officers and senior enlisted troops would be drawn from Army units already in Iraq to comprise 10-member training teams to work with Iraqi forces. A senior Army officer said a smaller number of Marine Corps and Air Force personnel could also be assigned to training duties in Iraq.

American military commanders acknowledge that the 90 battalions of Iraqi military and police forces vary greatly in quality. “Some of those battalions are good enough so that they can operate independently,” General Casey told reporters on March 8. “But there’s not many of them.

It takes time to build a non-commissioned officer corps (NCO), and it is the NCOs which provide the backbone and day-to-day leadership which will set the standard for the military. While you can run a recruit through basic and advanced individual training in about 6 months to make them nominally trained and qualified, good NCOs develop over years. The same is true about officers. It is those two categories where much of the future work lies for US trainers.

Over the next year the United States will work with the Iraqis “so that you can have truly independent Iraqi operations,” he added. “But it’s going to take some months for that to happen.”

Iraqi military and Defense Ministry officials are slowly building military headquarters and staffs, and American officials cite several examples of steady improvement.

I don’t want to over emphasize it, but well-trained NCOs and officers are key to the ability to conduct independent operations. Just as important is a good command structure and the planning ability of the staff. Right now, I would guess that the US is engaged in intensive and extensive battle staff training with the headquarters and staffs. Once they learn how to properly plan and execute operations, and once we get sufficient NCOs and officers on line and trained, the sooner we can really look at significant cuts in our forces in Iraq.

And now, in true blog fashion … links!

Steamy ABC Segment Escapes Penalty

China Ripe for Media Explosion

Rice says USA concerned at China military build-up…

Genes contribute to religious inclination…

Suddenly, It’s Fast Forward at TiVo

Russia Official Survives Bomb Attack

Kg: Statement of the US Ambassador on the 2nd round of elections

Schiavo’s lifeline removed


2 Responses to “With patience a soldier is bred”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    I know nothing about the military, so forgive my ignorance. Is this a wise move? Or is this driven by politics? That’s an innocent question–I’m not trying to blast Bush. And I haven’t followed the news as much lately as I should, but are the insurgients being held in check since the elections? That’s another innocent question. I really do hope our soldiers are able to come home quickly, I’ve just not heard *great* things about the Iraqi forces yet, and the officials you quote don’t sound overly optimistic at all.

    From this end, it’s nice to have an insider’s perspective, DeJon.

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Excellent, DeJon. I really need to do a better job of keeping up with current events.

    Speaking of, you want to make a deal with me for Berkman?

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