THE BLOG
02/26/2008 10:04 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 2/26/08

POST-SURGE TROOP LEVELS MAY BE HIGHER THAN PRE-SURGE LEVELS

The Pentagon is projecting that when the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq ends in July there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January 2007. Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the troop total is likely to be 140,000. Among the support forces to be needed beyond July, Ham said, are military police, logistics troops, aviation forces and a headquarters staff to command combat forces in an area south of Baghdad. Ham stressed that his projected number of 140,000 is subject to change depending on security conditions, but it is the first time the Pentagon has publicly estimated what the total will be. When asked if the total would be below 132,000 by the time Bush leaves office, Ham said, "It would be premature to say that." [AP, 2/26/08]

MARINE CORPS ASKS FOR PROBE INTO 2-YEAR DELAY OF MINE RESISTANT VEHICLES

Due to the seriousness of the allegations, "the Marine Corps has taken the additional step" of requesting an investigation by Pentagon's inspector general. In a Jan. 22 internal report--not accepted as an official report by the Corps--Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps official and retired officer, accused the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks. Gayl's study, which reflected his own views, said cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down a February 2005 "urgent" request from battlefield commanders for the so-called MRAPs. "If the mass procurement and fielding of MRAPs had begun in 2005 in response to the known and acknowledged threats at that time, as the (Marine Corps) is doing today, hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented," Gayl said. "While the possibility of individual corruption remains undetermined, the existence of corrupted MRAP processes is likely, and worthy of (inspector general) investigation." [AP, 2/26/08]

TENSIONS CONTINUE ALONG IRAQ'S TURKISH BORDER

Turkish officials warn against expansion. Turkish troops and Kurdish guerrillas clashed Monday for the fifth consecutive day in two areas of northern Iraq. According to Turkey's general staff, its forces have killed 41 Kurdish guerillas in fighting Monday, bringing the total killed to 153 since the launch of the offensive into Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraqi officials in Baghdad warned that a widened and prolonged incursion could have "very serious consequences." Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said. "If the operation is widened, definitely Iraq will defend its sovereignty and territory." [Washington Post, 2/26/08]

SECTARIAN VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO PLAGUE SHI'A FESTIVAL

At least nine were killed and unknown number injured when a bus full of pilgrims was attacked. A bomber ordered the bus driver to take a route away from the highway to dodge army check points. When the driver refused, the bomber blew himself up about 500 yards from the check point, 40 miles west of the city of Mosul. With heavy security in Karbala, the location of the Shi'a festival Arbaeen, extremists have struck in recent days at more-exposed pilgrims on their way to Karbala, killing at least 63 pilgrims and leaving scores injured. In separate violence, fifteen gunmen broke into a house in the village of Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding his brother. In Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, two members of the local awakening council -- Sunni fighters who have turned against Islamist extremists-- were killed after gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint. [AFP, 2/26/08]

SLIGHT INCREASE IN OIL PRODUCTION, BUT STILL NO AGREEMENT ON REVENUE SHARING

Iraq's Oil Ministry reported new figures that showed the nation's oil exports inched up in January to 59.6 million barrels, a 6% increase from the previous month. While exports have shown some signs of improvement, Iraq's parliament has failed to approve a new law to regulate the international oil companies' work and share resources among the country's Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. [AP, 2/26/08]

GATES' AID LIKELY TO BE TASKED NEXT COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ

Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli appears to be the most likely officer to succeed Gen. David H. Petraeus as top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of this year. Petraeus has indicated interest in moving sometime this year to the top U.S. military slot in Europe, where he could attempt to revitalize the flagging NATO alliance. Chiarelli, currently the senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, commanded the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq in 2004 and early 2005, and then was the No. 2 officer in Iraq in 2006, preceding Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno. The two other leading candidates to follow Petraeus have recently been named to senior positions in the U.S. military establishment. [Washington Post, 2/26/08]