Most of Iraq Under Local Control by Year's End, Officials Say
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2004 If the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces continues apace, then most of the country will be under local control by the end of the year, Pentagon officials said today.
Army Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, director of strategic plans on the Joint Staff, said that is the conclusion reached by Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
He said the northern part of the country including the areas around Mosul and Kirkuk and the southern parts of the country from Basra to Umm Qasr are the main areas already controlled locally, he said. These areas have a good security situation, are under the control of local governments, are moving along in reconstruction and are making progress in economic recovery, he added.
Sharp gave a rundown of how the training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces is going. He said Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commands the Iraqi security force training organization, worked together to decide the needs of the Iraqi government over the long run. Sharp said this bumped up the number of police needed from 90,000 to 135,000, the number of border guards from 16,000 to 32,000 and the number of battalions in the Iraqi National Guard, formerly the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, from 45 to 65.
The multinational force and the Iraqis are working in full partnership, Sharp stressed, and they decided that in the Interior Ministry the Iraqi Police Service has to be the first priority. There are currently 84,950 Iraqis in the police force, with 38,921 of them having been through training.
Training for the police consists of an eight-week course for those with no experience, or a three-week course for those with previous law enforcement experience. Then the officers go to the streets and work with experienced multinational force officials for continued "on-the-job training."
Sharp said the equipment is flowing into Iraq now for the police. When the force reaches its 135,000-man goal, it will require 213,185 weapons. There are 94,120 on hand. It will require 22,395 vehicles, with 5,985 currently on hand. The force will require 67,565 communications devices; there are 13,586 now. It will require 135,000 sets of body armor; there are almost 47,000 on hand.
Defense officials said the problems with contracts that plagued the effort earlier this year have been solved, and as Iraqis are trained they will receive the equipment they need.
A total of $3.4 billion has been allocated to the training and equipping effort. This does not include the $1.8 billion being considered for reprogramming to security from other accounts.
Sharp said that recruiting for the security forces is not a problem, in spite of terrorists' targeting of the police. This year, 715 Iraqi police have been killed in the line of duty. "Iraqis are answering Prime Minister Allawi's call that security is the responsibility of Iraqis, and they are standing up to the test," Sharp said.
He said the highest levels of the Defense Department are monitoring the training and equipping efforts. "This is nothing new," he said. "We have been pressing this from the very beginning."