Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Iraqi Strike Force Must Be Awesome By Now

I'm confused about our training effort in Iraq (from a DOD briefing) that is going on two years now:

Since its inception in 2015, the fund has expended close to $1.6 billion to train and equip over 54,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, including over 26,000 Iraqi army soldiers, 8,500 counterterrorism service soldiers, 12,000 Peshmerga, and over 5,800 federal police and border security soldiers.

I'd like now to go ahead and answer the anticipated question of whether the Iraqi Security Forces are ready for Mosul by first confirming that each brigade that will participate in Mosul will have completed some Coalition training. And then I would like to describe broadly what is accomplished at these BPC sites.

To date, the Coalition has trained 12 brigades, which includes anywhere from 800 to 1600 troops with a varied period of instruction, depending on the type of capability that the brigade needs. We provide these brigades with individual equipment packages that include personal protective equipment, such as body armor, helmets and M-16s. Each unit also receives a complement of up-armored and soft skinned vehicles.

Those are very small "brigades." If 12 combat brigades are trained, and each has a maximum of 1,600 troops, that's just 19,200 troops. You could have small brigades that are not infantry or armor, but I thought the 12-brigade program was for ground combat units.

We trained 26,000 army troops. Even if all 26,000 are in those 12 brigades, that's over 2,150 troops per brigade. Which is still small for a maneuver brigade and indicates a unit with infantry and not much combat support integral to the brigades. What are brigades with 800 to 1600? Groups of 2-3 small infantry battalions with a small command element and little to no combat support?

Or does this mean that we've trained up to 1,600 troops per brigade, each of which is larger and has personnel that didn't go through our training program?

Or has the training program gone on so long that some of the early trained troops completed their terms of service and went home? Or does this include those who are casualties from being in battle already?

The Peshmerga would have 3 of the trained brigades. Are they at 4,000 each or does this count troops outside of the brigades, as well?

The training of the CTS troops is interesting. It appears to be triple the size that it was at the time of the fall of Mosul and the rest of the northwest.

And we seem to be shy about 2,000 to reach the total. Are those navy or air force personnel?

I still don't get why it has taken so long to train up so few troops. They had better be awesome by now. Because by the time we help Iraq get around to launching the offensive, all the pro-government resistance in Mosul might be dead:

Islamic State has crushed a rebellion plot in Mosul, led by one of the group's commanders who aimed to switch sides and help deliver the caliphate's Iraqi capital to government forces, residents and Iraqi security officials said.

Islamic State (IS) executed 58 people suspected of taking part in the plot after it was uncovered last week.

The casualties mount because we haven't defeated the Islamic State in Iraq.

I seriously expect that the offensive to take Mosul will go far smoother than the fearsome reputation of ISIL would indicate. As I noted nearly a year ago, these jihadis just don't seem to be eager to die for the cause.