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Drawing down in Iraq?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, March 18, 2005

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 withdrawl 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."

As mentioned in other posts, 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.
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Previous Comments to this Post 


"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..."

*channeling Mkultra*

Your failed imperialist hegemony is turning the Middle East into a quagmirish bloodbath of terror Bushitler!  Each and every day, for every terrorist you manage to bruise or nick, 1,000 more are created!  Soon they will rise and overrun the world, all thanks to your sinister, calculated, evil genius bumbling!

Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
The resemblance to MK is remarkable.  :)
Written By: Jon Henke
I hereby denounce Ted Kennedy.
Written By: praktike
URL: http://
The problem with Kennedy’s POV was that he was putting the cart before the horse.  Uh, figuratively, of course.   He was concerned about withdrawal first and foremost.  The effectiveness of an exit strategy is in the strategy, not the exit. 
Written By: Jon Henke

I take it, then, that you oppose drawing down American forces from NATO Europe at present, because this is handing the Soviet Union a victory?

Teddy Kennedy’s demands for drawdowns were within the context of the recent election, i.e., by now. The Army’s expectations are for early 2006. That would seem to suggest a slight difference between the two.

But your denunciation is always welcome....
Written By: Lurking Observer

I found myself wondering about possible side effects of training an effective NCO and officer cadre in Iraq. It will certainly put the Iraqi military in a completely separate category from its neighbors.

It interesting to think about that in light of the article "Why Arabs Lose Wars", which is at:

The primary reasons noted in the article are the problems of an extreme command-and-control system, in which the incentives result in no one wanting to make decisions about anything, and the consequent paralysis that results from indecision. If the Iraqi military developed a different culture, it would be dramatically better than any military in the region.

There are lots of possible implications to that.

Written By: Joe Bonforte
URL: http://

Lurking Observer

Der Schwimmer’s drawdown demands were placed on January 28th. They were in no way in context of the January 30th elections. He was saying the elections won’t matter, it’s a quagmire, we need to cut and run. For the rest of us, the elections have really put a twist in his bloomers. Gotta love it. Regards 

Written By: Abu Qa’Qa
URL: http://
I think I went on record here in mid-January with a prediction that we’d have a significant drawdown of US forces in Iraq by early 2006, leaving about 100,000 still present, and that the drawdown would probably start mid-to-late summer timeframe.

...didn’t I?
Written By: Nathan

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