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Progress in the Iraqi Security Forces

What the Jones Report really says.

12:00 AM, Sep 6, 2007 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
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  • The Commission finds that in general, the Iraqi Security Forces, military and police, have made uneven progress, but that there should be increasing improvement in both their readiness and their capability to provide for the internal security of Iraq.
  • While severely deficient in combat support and combat service support capabilities, the new Iraqi armed forces, especially the Army, show clear evidence of developing the baseline infrastructures that lead to the successful formation of a national defense capability.
  • In general, the Iraqi Army and Special Forces are becoming more proficient in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations; they are gaining size and strength, and will increasingly be capable of assuming greater responsibility for Iraq's security.
  • The Iraqi Army possesses an adequate supply of willing and able manpower, a steadily improving basic training capability, and equipment tailored to counterinsurgency operations. There is evidence to show that the emerging Iraqi soldier is willing to fight against the declared enemies of the state, with some exceptions along ethnic lines. The Army is making efforts to reduce sectarian influence within its ranks and achieving some progress. The Army's operational effectiveness is increasing; yet it will continue to rely on help in areas such as command and control, equipment, fire support, logistical support, intelligence, and transportation. Despite continued progress, the Iraqi military will not be ready to independently fulfill its security role within the next 12 to 18 months.
Nevertheless, the Commission believes that substantial progress can be achieved within that period of time.
  • Finding 3: The 'clear, hold, build' strategy being implemented by Iraqi Security Forces is on the right track and shows potential, but neither the Iraqi armed forces nor the police forces can execute these types of operations independently.
  • Finding 12: The Iraqi Army has become more effective in supporting Coalition-led counterinsurgency operations from the start of Iraqi and Coalition surge operations in early 2007. The reliability of Iraqi Army units continues to improve, and some units now are an integral part of the Coalition team for counterinsurgency operations. The overall rate of progress of the Army is uneven. Some units perform better than others; but there is rising confidence that progress is being made at a rate that will enable Iraqi Army tactical formations and units gradually to assume a greater leadership role in counterinsurgency operations in the next 12 to 18 months. However, they will continue to rely on Coalition support, including logistics, intelligence, fire support, equipment, training and leadership development for the foreseeable future.
  • Finding 13: Iraqi Special Operations Forces are the most capable element of the Iraqi armed forces and are well-trained in both individual and collective skills. They are currently capable of leading counterterrorism operations, but they continue to require Coalition support. They remain dependent on the Coalition for many combat enablers, especially airlift, close air support, and targeting intelligence.
  • The Iraqi Special Forces are a success story. The most capable units within the Iraqi military, they have trained extensively with U.S. Special Forces and developed a strong set of junior officers and a noncommissioned officer corps. Special operations involving both Coalition and Iraqi Special Forces are led by Iraqi commanders; their brigade provides 70 percent of the forces for these operations. Nevertheless, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces still rely extensively on Coalition forces for fire and counterfire, close air support, fixed-wing and rotary wing mobility, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
  • As part of Fardh al-Qanoon (the Baghdad Security Plan), the Iraqi Army has participated in a large number of high-intensity operations and demonstrated an effectiveness and level of determination far greater than what Coalition forces observed during joint operations in 2005 and 2006.
  • Although the central government cannot yet control security inside the country, Iraq's ground forces, particularly its Special Forces, have demonstrated strong counterterrorism capability. Iraqi Special Forces, which have conducted many counterterrorism operations with and without Coalition forces, have achieved significant operational success in 2007.
  • Finding 33: The emphasis on local recruiting and assignment in the Iraqi Police Service is showing promise in establishing security at the local level; strong personnel vetting processes will remain vital.