Integrating the Sons of Iraq


Click image to view slideshow of a night patrol through Shorja Market with the al Sadria Sons of Iraq in May 2008. Photos by Bill Ardolino.

In a recent post noting continued stabilization of Iraq, I mentioned three versions of a statistic that remains troubling for the country’s future: the slow pace of integrating the predominantly Sunni Sons of Iraq (SOI) militia members into security jobs and other governmental service. These estimates were as follows:

1. August, 2009: 21,300/89,000 (23.93%) SOI hired into government service . Source: Various open source media reports

2. October, 2009: 16,300/89,000 (18.31%) SOI hired into government service. Source: Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Report (SIGI)

3. November, 2009: 24,000/89,000 (26.97%) SOI hired into government service. Source: New York Times.

The middle numbers were obtained via Iraq analyst Joel Wing, who noted that his source – the most recent report from the federal US watchdog auditing Iraq’s reconstruction – is considered very reliable. I agree.

Yesterday, Al Sumaria Iraqi satellite TV provided another figure, quoting US Major General Joseph Reynes, the Director Force Strategic Engagement Cell, United States Forces-Iraq:

Around 40,000 Sahwa (awakening) members have been integrated into Iraqi institutions as part of national reconciliation efforts, Major General Joseph Reynes said.

“Seventy-eight thousand right now are on the rolls, over 40,000 have been integrated, 30,000 of those have been integrated directly into the ministries over the last couple of months,” he told reporters.

Around 10,000 have been integrated into the Iraqi security forces, General Reynes added.

Note that the previous target figure of 89,000 SOI has diminished to 78,000, meaning that 11,000 SOI dropped off the militia payroll.

If the Al Sumaria report is accurate, it means that 51.3% of individuals on the current SOI roster and 44.9% of those on the original roster have been hired into government service. I’m working on verifying these numbers via US military sources in country. If they pan out, this is of course a drastic improvement.

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