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ARLINGTON, Va. — A new Defense Department report to Congress says Iraqi security forces are making progress in Iraq, but a memo from a top Pentagon official says most of those troops are only partially capable of carrying out counterinsurgency missions.

The report released Thursday is designed to give Congress a measurement of progress in stabilizing Iraq and establishing democracy there. The Defense Department is required to issue the report every 90 days.

The report was due on July 11, but the Pentagon missed that deadline. A detailed version noting Iraqi troops’ exact force size and training was kept classified because “saying exactly what numbers are would bring great aid to the enemy,” according to Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, Joint Staff director for strategic plans and policy.

In an unclassified version of the report, Pentagon officials said Iraq boasts about 171,300 “trained and equipped” security forces.

The report notes the Iraqi army has about 76,700 soldiers, while the Iraqi air force has about 100 personnel, and the Iraqi navy 500 more. The police and highway patrol have about 63,400 members, and “other” forces add another 30,600 members.

Sharp outlined how officials determine individual units’ capabilities, but declined to give any details on how many Iraqi troops fit into each readiness category.

But in an article published on Thursday, the New York Times reported that Marine Gen. Peter Pace provided Congress with an unclassified memo noting that only “a small number” of Iraqi security forces can battle insurgents without the help of U.S. military personnel.

Meanwhile, just one-third of the Iraqi army is capable of “planning, executing and sustaining counterinsurgency operations” and still require some support, the memo said. Half the police units and two-thirds of the army is only partially capable of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, even with coalition support.

Pace’s memo came after his confirmation hearing June 29, to take over the role of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later this year. He was approved last week.

Sharp said Pace’s comments on partial capability were not interpreted correctly, and that Iraqi troops are progressing and contributing to military operations around the country.

“I don’t want to minimize what partially capable means,” he said. “Every one of those Iraqis are fighting. We should not minimize their efforts in terms of their security forces.”

The report says that attacks in Iraq are limited mostly to four out of the country’s 18 provinces.

Al Anbar, where Baghdad is located, by far leads in incidents, accounting for almost 35 percent of all attacks between Feb. 12 and June 21. Ninewah, meanwhile, accounts for about 20 percent, followed by Salah ah Din with about 17 percent, and Diyala, with about 13 percent.

In addition to discussing the Iraqi security forces and insurgent attacks the report also offers information on Iraq’s economy and infrastructure, including electricity, communications and oil production.

Inflation has been well under control since December 2004, the report says, although unemployment has risen somewhat, from 22.5 percent in December 2004 to 28 percent in June 2005.

Electricity in Iraq remains an issue, with demand outpacing supply, the report says.


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