The Iraqi military deployed one of its two tank brigades to Basrah, yet this goes unreported. AFP Photo. Click to view.
There are four factors in determining when to transition a province to Iraqi control: the threat, Iraqi Security Forces capability, governance, and politics. The reporting on the turnover of Basrah province addresses three of the four factors in determining PIC; yet the established press leaves out one of the most important changes of the last year.
The reporting on the transition of Basrah province to Provisional Iraqi Control (PIC) has been filled with stories on the influence of the Jaish al Mahdi (the Mahdi Army), the Badr Brigades, various militias, criminals, United Kingdom forces, and politics. But the reporting has omitted a significant development in Basrah, and a crucial element of the story: the greatly expanded Iraqi Army presence.
The security situation in Basrah is certainly in need of being addressed, as Iran’s attempts to influence the region, coupled with the extensive militia and criminal activity threatens the government’s writ. The Iraqi government has committed significant resources to the southern city. Many of these units have been redeployed from regions where the Sunni insurgency is strongest.
One year ago the Iraqi Army had one brigade in Basrah, and it was reported as corrupt. The 1-10 Motorized Brigade has since been replaced by one of the three best brigades in the Iraqi Army. The 1-10 was sent to Wassit province to break its ties to the militias in Basrah.
The Iraqi Army now has four brigades and an Iraqi Special Operations Forces battalion in Basrah province. And the Iraqi Army is not finished; another brigade for Basrah is forming. The current and future units in Basrah include:
• 3-9 Tank Brigade (deployed from Baghdad to cover until 4-14 is formed)
• 1-14 Motorized Brigade (formerly the 3-8 Brigade from Wassit, replaced the 1-10)
• 2-14 Motorized Brigade (formerly the 5-10 Brigade, formed in May 2007)
• 3-14 Brigade (assembled in November 2007)
• 4-14 Brigade (forming by July 2008)
• Basrah ISOF Battalion (assembled from Anbar/Ninawa/Baghdad in August 2007)
• 14th Division Headquarters elements (diverted from Salahadin 12th Division formation; established Nov. 7, 2007)
The 3-9 Tank Brigade is the one of two tank-equipped Iraqi Army units, and it was temporarily deployed from Baghdad to Basrah. Yet the reporting continues to omit this very important factor.
In addition, the Iraqi National Police has sent two battalions of the 1st National Police Mechanized Brigade to Basrah. These forces are in addition to the Basrah based 2/IV Border Guards Brigade and the Umm Qasr-based Iraqi Marine Battalion.
All of this data is public knowledge and published. When discussing the security situation in Basrah and the transfer of provincial control, the Iraqi government’s efforts to buttress the security forces must also be mentioned to tell the full story.