Saturday, August 16, 2008

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction’s Numbers for Sons Of Iraq

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released some updated numbers for the Sons of Iraq (SOI) program. While not as specific as the ones previously reported on here, they are the newest available. Overall, it counts 103,000 SOI operating in ten of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. So far, Baghdad has integrated 19,700 of them. 14,000 joined the security forces, while the remaining 5,700 got government jobs.

The U.S. plans on reducing the number of SOI by 43,000 by the end of 2008, with 17,000 getting security jobs, while 26,000 getting civil works jobs. The Americans want the remaining SOI taken over by the government by June 2009. The major problem is that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Interior Ministry have not agreed to this plan. Still, the U.S. has gone ahead and created two training programs for SOI fighters. These are the Civil Service Corps and the Joint Technical Education and Reintegration Program (JTERP), which have received $155.5 million from the United States. Baghdad has promised $126 million for JTERP. The Christian Science Monitor reported that many SOI do not want these kinds of jobs after they’ve held guns and secured their neighborhoods. It said that at a Civil Service Corps program set up in Adhamiya, Baghdad, only 10% of the 2,000 SOI fighters there signed up for the vocational training the U.S. was offering.

The future of the SOI is one of the major issues now facing Iraq. The government’s continued reluctance to provide jobs to the fighters will probably not change anytime soon. The U.S. has no plans to support these fighters indefinitely either. As discussed before, that means two probable futures for the SOI. One is that many of these tribesman and former insurgents will become unemployed and will have to fend for themselves. This could lead to renewed violence, but with the information that the U.S. and Iraqi forces now have on these fighters, most of them would likely end up dead. The other option is for the groups to turn into political parties and run in the provincial elections. The Anbar Awakening and several other SOI in central Iraq are doing just that. Gaining political office would give them legitimacy, a say in local governance, and patronage to dish out to their followers. This poses a direct threat to the ruling parties, providing another point of contention between the SOI and government that will delay their integration.

SIGIR Statistics on SOI Program:

Total amount spent by U.S. on SOI as of July 7, 2008: $253.25 million

Total number of SOI fighters under U.S. contract: 103,000
  • Number integrated into security forces or given government jobs: 19,700
  • As of July 12, 2008 14,000 of those have joined the security forces
  • 5,700 have gotten government jobs

Number of SOI by U.S. regional commands: (The numbers after the provinces relate to those on the map)


Baghdad Command: - 1
  • 30,630 SOI
  • Change from March-July 2008: Down 161
  • Average Monthly Pay: $236
Northern Command: (Ninewa - 14, Tamim - 17, Salahaddin - 2)
  • 30,692 SOI
  • Change from March-July 2008: up 3,121
  • Average Monthly Pay: $368
Western Command: (Anbar - 13)
  • 4,867 SOI
  • Change from March-July 2008: up 190
  • Average Monthly Pay: $181
Central Command: (Karbala - 11, Babil - 6, Wasit - 4, Najaf - 12)
  • 35,345 SOI
  • Change from March-July 2008: down 86
  • Average Monthly Pay: $299
Central South Command: (Qadisiyah - 9)
  • 2,002 SOI
  • Change from March-July 2008: 0
  • Average Monthly Pay: $171

SOURCES

Peter, Tom, “Sons of Iraq made Iraq safer. What’s their mission now?” Christian Science Monitor, 7/30/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/08

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