Bill Roggio has a good roundup post today on changes in the Iraqi Security Forces in May. He notes that they've added a division to their strength in the last month.
The Iraqi Army grew by a Division's worth of personnel during the month of May:
May 2, 2007: 137,800
May 9, 2007: 141,000 [+3,200]
May 16,2007: 151,800 [+10,800]
May 30, 2007: 152,500 [+700]
Total gain: 14,700
The cadre requirements for the new forming units is causing fluctuations in IA unit capabilities and ratings. Approximately 200 experienced personnel and 550 new Junji are required to form a new IA Battalion. The experienced leaders are pulled from lead battalions. On 9 May, General Pace briefed that: 10 IA Battalions were independent, 88 in-lead, 27 partnered and 29 still forming. Yet one week latter Brigadier General Wiggens said "Currently there are 89 battalions where Iraqi forces are either in the lead or are independent; more specifically, there are nine independent battalions and 80 battalions in the lead."
There are also updates on Iraqi military Airborne units, and other developments. See also the post on the development of the Iraqi police and justice system, below.
One of the original MilBloggers, Doc Russia, has recently had a chance to visit with his sister. She is serving in Iraq. Doc describes their conversation, and its impression on him:
We spoke at some length about Iraq and the war. While I realize that many people just do not want to talk about the war, I think that I need to say something here. While talking with her, I think I got a better understanding of the magnitude of what we are trying to do, and I must say that it is a daunting task. We are trying to drag what is basically a feudal society that had never experienced a renaissance or age of enlightenment into the modern age. It took Europe a hundred years to accomplish this, and we have been about it, making strides for only a few short years. It truly is a Herculean task, but we are doing it. This is why, IMHO, there is such a disparity between the optimism of so many troops and the negativism of the media outlets. It is kind of like when I was watching a C-5 galazy taking off of a runway when I was a grunt. The C5 is a gargantuan heavy lift air transport plane. I mean, you could put a row of apartments inside the damned thing, and have room for the tenants to walk their dogs. It is immense. Now, while it is immense, it needs the normal amount of runway to get off the ground, and has the normal acceleration of any cargo aircraft. So, one day, I am sitting on a hilltop, and I see this ginourmous craft lumber up to starting gate of the flight line. I was about a kiloometer from the craft, and it was pointed in my general direction, and I am high enough up on the terrain that I have a really good view of it on the runway. Well, I hear the engines roar, and I start to notice movement as it begins to slowly go down the runway, it taxies a ways, and starts going at a good clip, but I notice that it is not going nearly fast enough to take off. What's worse is that it is no longer accelerating, and it is about to run out of pavement. I watch, expecting them to throttle down, hit the brakes and turn around or something, but it just keeps lumbering along past the point of no return. Now, I start to get a little tense, since that huge thing will not be able to stop before it runs into a structure one of my buddies is posted in, and it will not be able to get enough airspeed to take off. I thought back to the plane that had crashed on that same spot a little lesss than a year ago, and my mouth got a little dry, when suddenly, this takiing plane just starts to hover up off the ground. Then it starts to climb faster, and banks left past the structure where my buddy is.
And as the nose passed by him, and I saw how quickly it went by, it occured to me that the plane was going real fast. That C5 had been going full boogie down that runway. The pilots at the stick had been sitting in their cockpit, pressed into the backs of their seats with engines roaring as it clawed its way down the tarmac like a high school track athlete pumping those pistons as it hurtled to liftoff, and they coaxed it "go, baby, go!"
but to me it looked slow. It looked to slow to be able to generate lift. The reason it looked slow was that at a distance, when your mind is used to tracking movement and judging speed by the time it takes a craft to pass it's own hull length, when you get a *REALLY* large craft, that way to guage speed is no longer useful.
I think that it is the same way with Iraq. While we, far from the being behind the yoke of the thing are, and unappreciative of it's size look upon it, what is actually a breakneck speed appears as a lumbering and lazy gait, but it really is not, and then we are shocked when the cockamamie thing actually gets off the ground. From our perspective, I do not think that we are very able to judge how fast or well things are going. From the media, we only hear of losses, and from guys like Yon and the folks we know over there, we hear of our successes. And, our successes are legion.
We are doing something on a grand scale. We really are trying to drag one of the last vestiges of feudal and unenlightened culture out of the darkness of the jungle and into the light. We must not, we cannot throttle back. It is time to bend the throttle forward, and through the howl and roar of turbines growl, through gritted and clenched teeth,
"Go, baby, go!!!"