Report on Iraq Cites Progress on Security and Other Fronts
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2005 A new Defense Department report sent to Congress today cites strong forward momentum in developing Iraq's security forces, noting a 50 percent increase in the number of troops capable of taking the lead in combat operations.
The Report to Congress Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, the second quarterly "report card" on the security, political and economic environment in Iraq, addresses specific baseline metrics, measurements and indicators of Iraq's security, political and economic environment.
Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense of international security affairs, told Pentagon reporters today not all aspects of progress or lack of it can be measured quantifiably. However, he called the report "a useful document" that addresses a broad range of developments in a single document.
It incorporates analysis from the Joint Staff, U.S. Central Command, Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq. Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy, told reporters the document demonstrates clear progress on the security front. That's critical, he said, because progress on in terms of security directly affects progress on all other fronts.
The report notes that more than 192,000 Iraqi security forces are trained and equipped, up 12 percent since July. But Renuart told reporters today that number has increased since the report's cutoff date and now is actually closer to 199,000 or 200,000.
In a news release issued today, Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq noted the significance of this landmark, particularly in light of the fact that Iraq's military and police forces will take the lead in providing security for the Oct. 15 referendum.
Progress on the security front is critical because it supports progress on all other fronts, Renuart said.
The Iraqi Army currently has 88 battalions trained to operate alongside coalition forces, he told reporters. Of those, 36 battalions are taking the lead, capable of planning and executing missions with little or no support from coalition forces, Renuart told reporters. That's compared to 21 battalions last March, he said.
Overall, 116 ground Army and police battalions - 22 more than in July -- are conducting operations, the report noted.
The report cites progress in the Iraqi Police Service as well, with 5,500 new Iraqi Police Service members and 1,200 more public-order police trained and equipped since July. In addition, training and equipping of Iraq's special police commandos is ahead of projects, up 2,000 during the past three months.
The most significant progress, the report noted, has been among battalions rated at Level 2, meaning they can take full responsibility for their own geographic areas.
Renuart urged reporters not to get overly bogged down by readiness numbers, noting that effectiveness levels "will go up and down across time" for Iraqi units, just as they do for all other units, depending on their training cycles.
A new commission made up of Iraqi and coalition leaders will continue to assess developments within Iraq's security forces to determine the rate in which control for specific areas of the country is handed over to the Iraqis, the officials told reporters.
In addition to security progress, the report to Congress also cited developments on the political front, noting the upcoming constitutional referendum, a surge in voter registration since last December and the increase in private media in Iraq.
Economically, the report pointed to Iraq's normalized relations with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank's projection of a 3.7 percent growth rate in Iraq's economy this year.
Rodman acknowledged that two aspects of growth - electricity and oil production - aren't proceeding as well as hoped. Iraq produces 2.16 million barrels of oil a day and exports 1.4 million barrels per day while key oil infrastructure repairs, the report noted.
And despite progress on a wide range of fronts, Renuart told reporters the insurgency remains a threat that's not going to disappear overnight. "We're still in the midst of a fight," he said. The insurgency is a fight that will continue."