Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Protecting Iraq's Infrastructure

I've long mentioned that Iraq's Facilities Protection Service of about 140,000 admittedly poorly trained and often not loyal forces do serve a function that would have to be performed by troops or police if the FPS did not exist. They defend ministries and other property. But these personnel are never counted in the total of forces fighting the enemy.

More recently I read briefings that noted Strategic Infrastructure Battalions whose performance seemed fairly good. I wondered if the FPS had been renamed (and gotten much better).

In fact, these are two separate forces. I got this from the latest Pentagon report on Iraq.

Right now the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has 152,000, mostly in the army. The Ministry of the Interior has 194,000 police of various outfits.

Although the FPS are part of the MOI, they are not included in the Pentagon report because they are not part of our training and equipping program. The FPS are mostly contract personnel hired by the various ministries for guard duty. But not including the FPS in total numbers is for a purely bureaucratic reason and does not deny that they have a role to play. Iraq plans to centralize training and improve the FPS with a goal of 98,000 FPS of higher quality than the current force.

The SIBs are actually part of the army and designed to protect key infrastructure. They are included in the army total. I assume these were formed since the FPS was not up to the task. The Iraqis plan to train them up to army infantry battalion standards but with a focus on protecting infrastructure. Only 13 of 17 planned battalions are operating now.

We have at least 640,000 Iraqi, contract, and Coalition forces under arms--of varying quality--fighting the enemy. And this doesn't include the Kurdish militias that protect their provinces. Nor does it include local militias fighting with us and neighborhood watches.

So there you go, mystery solved. And let me add again, we have enough forces to defeat our enemies in Iraq.