More Independent Iraqi Army Operations

The Iraqi Army conducts two separate battalion sized operation & gain control of a bigger slice of the battlespace

ISF-Control Jan06.jpgThe Iraqi Amy is taking over a larger portion of the battlespace, as well as conducting independent security operations. Major General Richard Lynch recently stated Iraqi Army units are involved in over 70% of the operations, and are conducting 25% of these operations independently.

Jason Vansteenwyk points to slides of the progress of Iraq Army in taking control of regions. The Increase in responsibility from September of 2005 to January of 2006 is significant. And Mr. Vansteenwyk also points out the Iraqi troops are securing the most densely populated regions of Iraq.

Over the past week, Iraqi units have conducted two independent battalion-sized operation in central Iraq. The 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army detained four suspected insurgents in a raid west of Baghdad. The only U.S. participation came from Special Operations Forces, who were acting in an advisory role.

The 2nd Battalion 2nd Brigade, 5th Division of the Iraqi Army arrested 102 suspected insurgents, killed two and uncovered a significant weapons cache in two separate strikes in Diyala Province. The operations were driven by specific intelligence, and 25 insurgents on the Iraqi Army’s most wanted list were detained. Again, the only Coalition assistance was in the form of Special Forces advisers. CENTCOM provides additional details on the fighting qualities of an Iraqi sergeant:

During the raid on the first target, an Iraqi Army assault team encountered four armed insurgents when the team began searching a house. Under heavy fire, the assault team exchanged small arms fire with the insurgents but was forced to withdraw outside of the house for cover. But one of the team’s sergeants stayed in the house and in the fight, killing one and wounding two of the insurgents before falling back to regroup with his team and assault the house again.

Stars & Stripes reports Iraqi soldiers were crucial in saving the lives of ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt. The Iraqi troops reacted to the ambush that followed the bombing of the Iraqi Army vehicle, according to First Sergeant John McFarlane, one of the advisers of the Military Transition Team.

“I had a bunch of jundis kicking ass and taking names,” McFarlane said, using the Iraqi word for “private.” “I saw hatches being opened and soldiers pouring out and clearing flanks and returning fire in a disciplined manner,” Jason said. “We were getting shot at from four different directions and we were walking around – walking around – because the Iraqis had our backs. I thought we were looking at some show for congressmen. It was that perfect.”

1stSgt McFarlane and Major Mike Jason also relate their experiences with working with the Iraqi Army.

Both are a little impatient with talk about a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, corruption in the ranks or ties to terrorism, saying it doesn’t reflect their experience. Although most of their soldiers are Shiites, much of the leadership is Sunni, and they say the two groups work together well. Although they patrol some Sunni areas, the Shiite soldiers are respectful to that population, the U.S. advisers say.

This matches my experience with the Iraqi Army. While they have far to go before they are mistaken for American Marines or soldiers, the Iraqi troops display a level of proficiency that is not reported in the media. They are learning their soldiering skills under difficult conditions of a brutal insurgency, and will be a better fighting force in the long term because of this.

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

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12 Comments

  • GK says:

    So when will the US be able to draw down our troops? Even if we are winning on the battlefield, we are losing badly in the PR wars.
    Plus, we may have a war with Iran in the future..

  • HK_Vol says:

    I think what is more important is the number of US casualties in Iraq to be honest. On a 12 month rolling basis, US deaths have now dropped 5 consecutive months. We’ve had tens of thousands of troops in the Philippines, Japan, UK, Germany, Korea, etc. for decades. No protests from the US about troops there. Why? They weren’t getting killed. As things continue to settle down and improve in Iraq, you’ll see less “bring our troops home” mantra.

  • Rob says:

    I am glad to hear that the corruption is not overwhelming everything else in Iraq. This is good news. The danger of corruption is so great in both Iraq and Afghanistan because it corrodes the faith and trust in the new democratic governments that we are trying to nurture. Clearly many of the citizens of these newly democratic contries have signed on to the hopeful American view of the future. What has to be appreciated and valued is that these people are fighting and dying for our shared ideals. People with inkstained fingers are worthy allies. You have to wonder if the same can be said of the American media or our former VP who has been busy bashing the United States to an Arab audience.

  • Enigma says:

    I think we already are hearing less of the “bring our troops home” mantra, but I don’t think that’s directly related to declining US casualty rates. I think it has more to do with the realization that the American public doesn’t support a “cut and run” strategy in Iraq.
    As to portrayals and perceptions of Iraq vis-a-vis US casualties, I think the media are well past the critical mass point of successfully portraying the Iraq war as a bloody (literally) mishandled mess. Notice that the media don’t regularly report casualty RATES, which may be declining, but casualty TOTALS, which can only continue to increase during the ongoing fighting. Therefore, I think the American public’s perception of — and reaction to — the war in Iraq will be driven more by declining troop levels than declining casualty rates. The PR battle at the point will focus on whether troop withdrawals represent success or failure in Iraq.

  • Wild Thing says:

    Thank you for this information. I am glad the Iraqi Army is taking more responsibility now. Our troops rock and they must feel good when they see how their effect has been in all of this. I know I am soooo proud of our Military for all they have done and are doing.

  • Big Lizards says:

    Iraqi Army More Cohesive Than Democratic Senators

    I’ll bet you thought we’d totally forgotten about this category here at Big Lizards; or else you might have fretted that there wasn’t any “good news” to be found. Not so! The only reason we haven’t done one of these…

  • markm says:

    Hi, Bill;
    A timely and informative report. I think we need to find you a permanent sponsor to go back to Iraq and provide more honest and accurate reporting!

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “So when will the US be able to draw down our troops?”
    We went from 17(20 or 21 is you look at the election overlap) Brigades to 15 Brigades in January. Our coalition partners went from 23,000 to 21,000 troops.
    In February 2004, the US had drawn down to 13 Brigades, by April 2004, Fallujah,Najaf,Sammarrah and Sadr City were in flames.
    IMHO The biggest mistake of the war was overconfidence in the ability of the Iraqi Security forces to maintain order.
    Yesterday’s Special Police Battallion Training Briefing highlight was that of the 1,600 Sergeants Needed for the Special Police, they have 150. They’ve got the full compliment of Privates and Officers.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    GK,
    If you want to lose Iraq, keep advocating for a quick withdrawal. As Soldier’s Dad mentioned, we made a big mistake drawing down to soon in 2004. We also made the mistake of improperly training and structuring the ISF – as a small, border oriented defense force structured on locally raised units which were easily intimidated. We’ve learned our lesson, and are not sticking to arbitrary timeliness for withdraw or over-valuing the ISF.
    This post highlights some of the successes. But these successes do not mean the ISF is ready for complete independence. There is much work to be done.

  • Dean's World says:

    Iraqi Army Stepping Up

    Bill Roggio has the details.

    The Iraqi Amy is taking over a larger portion of the battlespace, as well as conducting independent security operations. M…

  • JWS says:

    This is a great post. I am reminded of the aphorism attributed to Napoleon: “There is no such thing as bad soldiers — only bad colonels.”
    Keep up the good work.

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