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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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12 Comments

  • elhombrelibre says:

    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:
    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12616&Itemid=128

  • GK says:

    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.

  • Firght4TheRight says:

    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?

  • Neo-andertal says:

    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,”

  • Bill Roggio says:

    GK,
    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.

  • nick v says:

    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.

  • MFVOV Blog says:

    Progress in Iraq June 30th

    As usual so much of the good work being done by our families serving is being ignored by the media. In spite of all of the whiners in congress are troops are making progress! The Forth Rail has a good news article well worth reading.
    Half of Baghdad Se…

  • SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY (RET) says:

    Bill,
    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.

  • crosspatch says:

    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!

  • Struggling on

    Good news, relatively speaking: Civilian deaths in Iraq down 36 percent At least 1,227 Iraqi civilians were killed in June along with 190 policemen and 31 soldiers, an officer at the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s operations room said. The officer spoke on …

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 07/02/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Papa Bear says:

    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.

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