Half of Baghdad Secured

The Baghdad Order Of Battle as of June 24, 2007. Click map to view.

Understanding the numbers behind the Baghdad Security Operation

On June 4, The New York Times released partial data from a classified memorandum that stated only 29 percent of Baghdad was secured, and provided little context to the status of the remaining 71 percent of Baghdad. The article was widely interpreted as heralding the failure of the Baghdad Security Plan, as four months into the operation, less than one third of Baghdad was secured. The New York Times also claimed that senior U.S. generals leaders stated Baghdad was expected to be secured by July, while General David Petraeus said this was never a realistic goal. As we noted at the time, the status of contested neighborhoods was important to understanding the state of Baghdad and the progress of the Baghdad Security Operation.

On June 29, Major General Joseph Fil, Jr., the commanding general of Multinational Division Baghdad and the 1st Cavalry Division, briefed on the status of Baghdad and provided the much needed context to the security situation in the city. Maj. Gen Fil noted there are 474 "mahalas" - or neighborhoods - and that operations go through four stages: disruption, clearance, controlling, and retention. Each phase can be understood as follows:

Disruption: U.S. and Iraqi forces do not have forces established in the region or have not conducted clearing operations. Security forces are conducting raids and other shaping operations to "disrupt" enemy activity and gain intelligence on the terrorist and insurgent networks.

Clearance: Security forces are in the process of conducting large-scale operations, sweeps, and searches to find and secure weapons caches, detain insurgents, and establish a permanent presence in the area.

Controlling: Security forces have a presence in the area, and neighborhood watches and police forces have been established. The areas are now considered secured.

Retention: Neighborhoods are under control and have been fully transitioned to Iraq control.

Maj Gen Fil compared the numbers from April to today. In April about 19 percent of Baghdad was secured, 41 percent of Baghdad was yet to be cleared, and about 35 percent of Baghdad was in the process of being cleared. In May, as The New York Times reported, the number of neighborhoods under control jumped to 29 percent, but there was no discussion of neighborhoods in the clearance and disruption phases.

The numbers have changed dramatically in the two months since April. Today about 48 percent of Baghdad is secured, with 7 percent under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces in the retain phase, 16 percent of Baghdad has yet to be cleared, and about 36 percent of Baghdad is in the process of being cleared.

In a little over two months, the Baghdad Security Plan resulted in a jump of about 30 percent of the neighborhoods secured (19 percent in April to 48 percent in June), a drop of neighborhoods in the disruption phase of about 25 percent (41 percent in April to 16 percent in June), and a steady state of neighborhoods in the clearance phase (about 35 percent).

With Operation Phantom Thunder ongoing against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Baghdad Belts of Diyala, northern Babil, and eastern Anbar provinces, the pressure on the terror organization will increase. It would be unwise to look at operations to secure Baghdad - to get to the control and retain phases - as a linear function. As fewer neighborhoods are in the disruption phase and operations in the Belts progress, the offensive-oriented Iraqi and Coalition forces will become available to concentrate forces on the troubled areas of Baghdad, which is largely in the western Rashid district and Sadr City. But clearing Baghdad is only a start. The real work will come in holding these neighborhoods to keep al Qaeda from reestablishing bases in the capital.


READER COMMENTS: "Half of Baghdad Secured"

Posted by elhombrelibre at June 30, 2007 4:20 PM ET:

Reports I'm reading indicate that many men in Iraq continue to step into jobs as policemen and soldiers. Al Qaeda may have broken the will of the American elite, the MSM, the DNC and its members, and a handful of Republican Senators. But in Iraq, Iraqis remain committed to the fight.

See this article:


Posted by GK at June 30, 2007 6:42 PM ET:

I am extremely worries that the terrorists know that they just have to hunker down until January 2009. Then, a Democrat President and a Democrat Congress WILL withdraw all troops, under the desire to "end" the war.

What then? Bill's reports are excellent and all, but the key piece missing from the discussion is the realization that the US Military does have a ticking clock over its head.

Posted by Firght4TheRight at June 30, 2007 6:52 PM ET:

It's Saturday night and I just watched NBC's National News. This isn't verbatum but this is how they reported the news from Iraq tonight:

1. " There was a suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed 23 people."

2. " American soldiers conducted a raid that killed 27 insurgents in Sadr City but reports came out that 8 of the victims were members of a family. "

3. " American troops are being charged with the premeditated murder of four Iraqis "

And then, just for added impact, NBC reported:

4. "The American military in Afghanistan admitted that a few civilians were killed in a bombing of a Taliban location that killed Taliban fighters."

Now, I ask the question. If you didn't take the time to come to Bill Roggio's godsend of a site here, and you just sat down and watched that NBC telecast, what would YOUR opinion be of the War on Terror?

Posted by Neo-andertal at June 30, 2007 6:59 PM ET:

Thanks Bill,

I needed a real news update after reading the drivel available from the media outlets. Sorry, no other way to describe it. I was real tempted to go off on one of my sarcastic rants. Apparently, what's going on in Baghdad and Diyala province aren't particularly relevant or interesting now that most of America is getting most of its hard news from the Daily Show. Much of the reporting from the field (ok, it's not from the field) seems to have been reduced to a statistical grunt,"30 Dead in Afghanistan, air attack", "3 Dead Israeli air attack on Gaza", "11 dead in Gaza Air Attack", so on and so forth. You have to read through three paragraphs to find out what happened and that most of the dead were militants.

I read an AP update this morning that was so muddled and mixed together that it sounded like the US had mounted an unprovoked attack on civilians in Sadr City, the Iraqi government had called for an investigation, and two American servicemen were charged with homicide. I had a pretty good idea they were piling together unrelated incidents, though. It was one of those reports where MNF news releases are mixed together into an incomprehensible mess. You've all seen them. I like calling the technique "AP collage", a patented technique learned in journalism school or at least the bar next to campus. Either that, or AP has started outsourcing it's news updates, something involving monkeys and typewriters.

Oh, and Martyr Mouse was beaten to death, which I'm not saying was necessarily a bad thing. Apparently, the Israeli Air Force wouldn't provide the usual air attack so he had to go for a low budget martyrdom instead. Just think if Martyr Mouse had his trusty suicide vest ready at all times, like he was supposed to, he could have taken his Israeli assailants out with him. (Note: Must discuss this with production assistant)

Ok, I know! I went to far, but at least I didn't do a point-by-point comparison between Bill's blog and the Daily Show. If Bill would only learn to skip all the details and go straight to the punch line. (crowd goes wild with applause, Oh he's always so right!). Oh, and thankfully, I didn't include the Martyr Mouse theme song either (my version).

OK, I feel a little better now, back to the topic.

(Oohps: Spoke too soon. Looks like NBC evening news was reading the same AP news release.)

Posted by Bill Roggio at June 30, 2007 7:01 PM ET:


You consistently miss the point. The discussions on military operations are overly tainted with domestic politics as is. I'm trying to explain what is happening in the military operations in Iraq, and I touch on the political developments in Iraq as well. The political situation inside the US isn't something I am ignorant of, but it is a separate issue, one I leave for others to discuss.

Posted by nick v at June 30, 2007 9:36 PM ET:

As someone who served in baquba and ramadi in 2005, let me tell you that this honest and in depth reporting is truly appreciated. You and mike yon seem to be the only two outlets that publish the good, bad, and ugly. A free press built on integrity and truth is integral to the preservation of our Republic, this is one of a very few outlets that embodies that ideal.

Posted by SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY (RET) at July 1, 2007 1:02 PM ET:

So far I've seen nary a peep out of the media, mainstream or otherwise, about what is probably the most important campaign of this war. The al Qaeda is being annihilated, and all the MSM can do is spend its anal fixation on the likes of Paris Hilton, or worse, giving a pass to the Democratic cut-and-run cankers everytime they denigrate the military and the country. The average American has no motivation to look beyond the leftist media and actually read the whole story. As an Iraq War veteran, I share the anger and frustration of many other Soldiers who say "What the hell"?!?, when they see how the war is being portrayed on national television.

Good news for the war effort equals bad news for the Left.

Posted by crosspatch at July 1, 2007 2:06 PM ET:

Reports are out today that June saw the lowest civilian casualty count of 2007. That is something I had noticed but was loathe to mention lest I 'jinx' it.

I would come to a couple of conclusions about this. First it appears that the operations are indeed having a tangible positive impact on the life of the ordinary Iraqi and secondly, something General P said several months back has rung true ... he said it would be June before any real results, one way or the other, would begin to become apparent. Not to say we would be able to pass judgment on the current strategy by June, but we would get some idea of the success of it or lack thereof. And it looks by all appearances that it is succeeding, in no small part due to the Iraqis themselves standing up and taking their country back from the terrorists.

Thanks again for a great site!

Posted by David M at July 2, 2007 12:44 PM ET:

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A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by Papa Bear at July 2, 2007 12:49 PM ET:

The author has stumbled a little with translating the numbers into words. Actually, things are better than he reports.

He says. "In a little over two months, the Baghdad Security Plan resulted in a jump of about 30 percent of the neighborhoods secured (19 percent in April to 48 percent in June)"

If that is so, then that would be a jump of about 150% in secured neighborhoods (from 19 to 48). Perhaps he meant to say a jump of about "30 percentage points."

In any case, thanks for reporting the good news and the true news.