(Note from Bill Roggio: This post was written by Soldier’s Dad, who has been a valuable source of information on U.S. troop deployments in Iraq.)
By now, the entire world is confused about U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Senator Kerry says less troops, Sen McCain says more troops. Gen Casey says some reductions are probable. All three are telling the truth in a sort of political double-speak sort of way.
The deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom Phase III (OIF III) had 17 Brigades + 3 division headquarters. The US troop allocations were as follows
North West – 1 Brigade
North Central – 4 Brigades
TF Baghdad – 7 Brigades
West – 3 Brigades
Central South 2 Brigades + Multi National Forces
OIF IV was projected in January 2005 to require 17 Combat Brigades + 3 division Headquarters listed below with rotations beginning in Mid 2005 and continuing until mid 2006.
48th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Georgia Army National Guard
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard
1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Ft. Drum, N.Y.
172d Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Ft. Wainwright, Alaska
II MEU(Headquarters + 2 x Regiments)
101st Airborne Division, Air Assault (division headquarters and 4 brigades)
1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
1st Brigade, 1st Armor Division
2nd Brigade, 1st Armor Division
4th Infantry Division (division headquarters and 4 brigades)
It should be noted that Combat Brigades account for 60% of forces. For every 3 soldiers “boots on ground – outside the wire” , it takes another 2 soldiers to provide Headquarters and Logistics. Currently we are about halfway between OIF 3 and OIF 4.
Firstly, let’s address Senator McCain’s complaint, he is a decorated combat veteran, and regardless of what one thinks about his political ambitions, his concerns should be taken seriously.
The failure of the Mosul police force in November 2004 left MNF-NW seriously short of manpower. The Stryker Brigades did a fantastic job of regaining control of Mosul by the summer of 2005 with very limited resources.
Fortunately, by May 2005, Haifa street in Baghdad was being patrolled by Iraqi Security Forces “In the Lead” , which allowed 3 battalions of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to relocate to MNF-NW. An additional battalion of 82nd Airborne, which arrived in September 2005, allowed enough troops in the MNF-NW AOR to retake and hold all of the sizeable cities in Ninewa.
In total 4 additional combat battalions have been reassigned to MNF-North West since Senator McCain made his complaint.
In August 2005, 20% of Diyala province was turned over to Iraqi Security Forces which allowed relocation 1 battalion from MNF-NW to MNF-W. In Sept/Oct 2005, the Provinces of Najaf and Karbala were turned over to ISF forces “In the lead” , which allowed reallocating even more forces to Al Anbar. In Sept 2005, a battalion of 82nd Airborne was assigned to Al Anbar.
In addition, in Sept/Oct 2005, an additional 3 sectors of Baghdad were turned over to ISF “In the lead” . As of this writing, the forces have not yet been reallocated, press statements made by the commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade however have indicated that an additional 2 battalions will be allocated to MNF-W(Al Anbar) in November as well as 2 Battalions being sent to Balad. It is unclear whether they are in support of MNF-North Central or 1st COSCOM(Logistics Command.
By sometime in November, an additional 4 battalions will have been assigned to MNF-West.
Overlap and Senator Kerry’s complaint.
Senator Kerry has called for an immediate reduction of 20,000 troops by years end.
In the normal course of rotation, it takes approximately 8 weeks from the time a replacement unit leaves the US, until the unit it is replacing leaves Iraq. Most of this time is spent in Kuwait “acclimating” to the conditions in the Middle East. It just so happens that Pentagon planners scheduled huge rotations around October 15th and December 15th. It happens that the time required to acclimate to the desert heat in October and December is significantly less than the time it takes to acclimate in August.
This has accidentally on purpose resulted in an extra 20,000 troops on hand for the October 15th elections as the 101st Airborne rotated in. This will also probably result in an extra 20,000 troops showing up early around the Dec 15th elections as well. Shortly afterwards, the number of troops in Iraq will be reduced by the 20,000 overlap.
General Casey , Gradual troop reductions and bases.
Bases require troops. They have to be guarded. They need post offices, chow halls, motor pools, counter battery teams the list goes on and on. TWENTY-NINE Forward operating bases have been closed in Iraq in the last 6 months.(a few have been opened in Al Anbar and Southern Ninewa).
A recent press release indicates that another part of Diyala province will be turned over to the ISF shortly. “The 1st Brigade of the Iraqi Army’s 5th Division in Diyala, because of their proven operational capabilities, will take on a greater security role in the military operations in the sector during the ceremony.”
Where will the unit that was scheduled to replace the soldiers go? Will they be reallocated to another area? An extra battalion of minders for the not so friendly folks of Sammara or Ramadi? We still have 8 Brigades of troops scheduled for OIF 4 that have not yet arrived and we don’t know how they will be allocated.
11 of the 18 Iraqi provinces average less than 1 Hostile event per day. Clearly, this is within the abilities of Iraqi police and Army to track down the perpetrators. A few advisors and a Quick Reaction Force in reasonable proximity is all that needs to be provided. These provinces are candidates for troop reductions, if the reductions haven’t already taken place.
5 of the 18 provinces average 4 attacks per day per million residents. US forces finding 4 sets of thugs in a population of 1 million is most likely beyond the cultural and language barriers of Iraq.
These provinces hold potential for troop reductions as Iraqi forces become more seasoned and capable.
That leaves Al Anbar, which has recently seen troop increases, the effects of which are not yet known, and Salahadin, which may or may not see troops increases in the near future based on a reallocation of troops in Diyala and TF Baghdad.
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