- Times wins two awards from Society for Professional Journalists
- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
Iraqi troop levels pass key test
BAGHDAD — Iraqi troops have passed a key test by showing up at 70 percent strength or better for President Bush’s “surge” in Baghdad, a senior U.S. general said.
“This movement of these three brigades and two separate battalions into Baghdad to our way of looking at it has gone very well,” Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, said in an interview.
“We’ve also learned more lessons from this one, and in future deployments, we’ll make it even better,” added Gen. Dempsey, the top American in charge of building up Iraq’s security forces.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a Senate committee in January that the arrival of those Iraqi brigades by mid-February would be a litmus test of whether the Iraqi government was serious about securing its capital city.
Gen. Dempsey said three brigades had shown up with between 70 percent and 75 percent of their soldiers. While a Kurdish unit from Sulaimaniyah and Kirkuk arrived with only 56 percent of its expected troops, he said, other inbound units from the Kurdish north were expected to arrive with 70 percent of their troops or more.
A battalion has 759 soldiers at full strength. A brigade is three battalions plus 200 soldiers, about 2,500.
Though those percentages would be dismal by American standards for a deploying unit, a different calculus applies in Iraq. At any given time, one-quarter of an Iraqi unit is on leave, taking their pay home to their families because there is no functioning banking system. An additional 10 percent of the units remain behind to guard their garrison buildings.
“So when you do all the math, we are a little concerned and remain so about one of those brigades,” Gen. Dempsey said, referring to the Sulaimaniyah unit.
“We know that about 17 percent of that unit chose not to deploy, and those soldiers will be dismissed from the service, and we’ll replenish the ranks,” he said.
The Baghdad security plan envisions Iraqi units rotating into the city for three months at a time and then being replaced by another unit. The total deployment is six months, including two months of initial training and then one month to redeploy back to their home stations.
The deployment to Baghdad demonstrates real progress, he said. Last September the Iraqi government promised but failed to provide three battalions. “None of them showed up,” he said.
The deployment then was presented as open-ended; a return date was not outlined. There was no monetary incentive like combat pay, and the units did not receive any additional training for the operation.
“You couldn’t find a less well-coordinated activity,” Gen. Dempsey said. “We learned from it.”
Now the soldiers draw an additional $120 on top of their $300 base salary and $100 hazardous-duty pay as soon as they are notified of their deployment. They get two weeks of training in their home station, followed by another two weeks of collective training on a range near Baghdad.
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Air Force sees resource shift as U.S. exits Afghanistan, heads to Africa
- FISHER: Shades of Berlin in the South China Sea
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.