Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good Enough for Anti-Government Work

The US military judges (via NRO) that the Iraqi security forces are coming along:

On the security side, there has been marked progress. The Iraqi security forces protected the population as it voted during the three elections of 2005. Ninety-eight Iraqi army and special police battalions are now conducting operations in the country. There are 232,000 members of the security forces "trained and equipped." There has been a 47 percent increase in the number of Iraqi battalions "in the lead" against terrorists - from 47 in October 2005 to 53 today, Renuart said. In addition, Iraqi units have now assumed the battlespace in large swathes of the country.

"In Baghdad, nearly 70 percent of the city is under control of Iraqi forces," Renuart said. Eight Iraqi divisions have stood up and assumed control of their forces, he said.

But the big indicator is how Iraqi forces are doing in battle. "We have no indications anywhere where an Iraqi unit has either surrendered -- even down to platoon level -- or where they have run," Renuart said. He said the Iraqi army has a coherent capability to take control of situations and interface with police forces.

We do not need replicas of American forces and the desire of some critics to judge Iraqis insufficent to win by comparing them to American forces is ridiculous. When mature, the Iraqi military will be better than Saddam's army even at its peak.

And the success of the Iraqis in fighting the enemy comes not just from our efforts to train and equip Iraqi forces, but our success in smashing up the enemy. As I've noted before, atomizing the enemy so that the Iraqi forces face smaller groups of insurgents means that there is less chance of an Iraqi unit being overrun and destroyed.

This is one reason I dismissed the whole oil-spot notion as it was often portrayed. Advocates of this approach took the very sensible idea that we have to protect the people to keep the enemy from intimidating the population and expanded the idea to deny the importance of breaking up the enemy. Just sitting passively in enclaves without disrupting the enemy means those oil spots would shrink rather than grow because the enemy could mass forces and train and equip securely in their own oil spots.

So even as we worked to hold the populated areas of central Iraq, we hit the enemy in al Anbar with air power when we had insufficient forces to raid with ground forces; raided with our ground forces when we had insufficient Iraqis to hold territory; and finally moved in to stay when we had sufficient Iraqis to garrison the regions' major towns and cities.

We've made good progress. Try not to panic so much that it becomes embarassing.