Iraqi security forces top 200,000 mark, officials say
ARLINGTON, Va. — The total number of Iraqi security forces has topped 200,000, the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq announced on Thursday.
But one Middle East scholar said the Iraqis are going to need a lot more firepower to take on the insurgents once the United States leaves.
Command officials said the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior reports it has 106,112 police and other security forces, while the Iraqi military numbers 93,959.
The overall number of Iraqi security forces has increased by more than 60,000 since the January elections. The Pentagon was slated to release a report on the progress of Iraqi security forces Thursday afternoon.
The Iraqis also have three C-130 Hercules aircraft, some squadrons of light reconnaissance aircraft and some helicopters with more on the way, the officer said.
Ultimately, the Iraqi army will consist of 10 divisions, one of which will be mechanized/armored and another will have wheeled armor personnel carriers
The officer wrote that the Iraqi Army’s capabilities will include 77 refurbished T-72 tanks, 80 armored wheeled personnel carriers for police, and mortar units.
But Wayne White, of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., said the Iraqis will need more tanks and armored personnel carriers to secure the Sunni heartland after U.S. troops withdraw.
The Iraqi security forces will face a tough and ruthless enemy once the United States leaves, said White, who was head of the State Department’s Iraq Intelligence Team from 2003 to 2005. If poorly supported Iraqi troops take over for well-armed U.S. troops, it will tip the balance in favor of the insurgents.
“They will need assets equivalent to what we have to just stay even with the enemy,” he said.