Friday, November 30, 2007

Capacity Building At What Pace?

As Atrios noted, President Bush laid out a variety of benchmarks and evaluation criteria for the surge last January which revolved around the idea of building greater capacity for the central Maliki government. One of the benchmarks was managment of provincial security:
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November.
Remember there are eighteen provinces in Iraq. By last January, the Iraqi central government was responsible for 3 provinces or 17% of the total provinces. Under the criteria laid out by Bush, the remaining 15 provinces were supposed to be absorbed into the Iraqi government's responsibility at the rate of roughly 1.67/month so the handover would be completed by tomorrow. That has not happened.

2 weeks ago, there was this report from Reuters concerning the handover of security responsibilities in Babel province.
HILLA, Iraq, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Provincial officials said on Monday that Iraqi forces will take over security for Babel province south of Baghdad next month, but the U.S. military said it was not aware of any plans to transfer control.

"On the 17th or 18th of December the security file for Babel province will be handed over to the Iraqis," Babel provincial government spokesman Abdul-Ridha Issa told Reuters.

Babel would become the ninth of Iraq's 18 provinces to be handed over if the plan goes ahead. A police spokesman for the Babel provincial capital Hilla gave the same handover dates.

However, a U.S. military spokesman said the only province expected to be handed over in December was southern Basra.
This report strongly suggests that eight provinces including the original three have been turned over to the Iraqi central government's security management team. This is a net of 5 new provinces, or a marginal conversion rate of 33% compared to the original metric proposed by President Bush. Even being generous and assuming both Babel and Basra provinces hand over in December and calling December close enough to November, a quasi straight face evaluation on this metric shows a marginal success rate of 44%. Unless you're playing baseball or shooting 3's 44% is not a good success rate.

The Reuters article has the US military claiming that all provinces will now be handed over by July 2008, for a revised rate of .83 provinces per month marginally handed over which is half the rate of the original plan.

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