Saturday, February 03, 2007

Analysis: Iraqi brigades only at half-strength for Baghdad 'push'

WASHINGTON — The army brigades promised by the Iraqi government to help secure Baghdad have begun to arrive in the city, but with only a little more than half of their manpower, representing at least a partial failure in a crucial first test of the Bush administration's new war plan.

Administration officials had identified the participation of Iraqi military units as an important measure of support from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government for the new U.S. strategy in Iraq. Previous efforts to secure Baghdad failed in part because the Iraqi government was never able to deliver the forces it promised.

In disclosing the shortfall, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first of the three Iraqi brigades ordered to Baghdad had arrived, and the second was en route. Iraqi brigades are supposed to consist of 2,000 to 2,500 soldiers, smaller than American brigades.

"There's good news and bad news," Pace said. "The good news is that, contrary to what has happened in the past, the units that were designated to arrive in Baghdad have begun to arrive, on the schedule they were supposed to be there."

But Pace said the units had only about 55% to 60% of the soldiers assigned to them.

Read the rest at the LA Times