The portion of Baghdad in which Iraqi security forces are in control with minimal help from the American military has grown only slightly in recent months, to just over 8 percent, despite an overall decline in insurgent violence in the capital, a senior U.S. commander said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon from his Multinational Division-Baghdad headquarters, painted a generally positive picture but acknowledged that the fighting remains hard. “The level of violence is way, way down,” Fil said. “And perhaps more significantly, the ability of the Iraqi security forces to control their own neighborhoods, their own areas, as they stand side by side with American forces — and, in fact, as they take the lead — is growing.”
But it is not growing quickly.
Fil said 8.2 percent of the 474 neighborhoods in Baghdad are now in what the U.S. military calls a “retain” phase, meaning security is being maintained by Iraqi forces with U.S. troops in a reserve role. That is up only slightly from late June when Fil told reporters that it stood at 7 percent.
So, some number of months into a Surge (the actually start date remains classified) that by all accounts will be over by next summer, 8% of the capitol city in under the control of Iraqi forces. That’s an increase of 2% in the last 3 months. By my math, if progress continues at this rate an additional 6% of Baghdad will be under the control of Iraqi security forces (with US forces in reserve) by the time the Surge ends next July.
But hey, you’d have to be a Grade A moron to question whether the explicitly temporary deployment of a small increase in existing forces would transform the security dynamic in a country of 24 million…