Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rough Numbers On The Sons of Iraq Program

Finding specific breakdowns of the Sons of Iraq (SOI) program are hard to come by. The SOI are U.S.-funded local security units that have been instrumental in turning the tide against Al Qaeda in Iraq and the insurgency. By May 2008 there were approximately 103,000 SOI fighters. 70% of them were Sunnis. They were mostly former insurgents and tribesmen. The remaining 30% were Shiite. The SOIs operate in ten of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. The following numbers come from reports by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Center for American Progress. They are still incomplete, but give a general idea of the number of SOI groups and their distribution across Iraq.

Provinces and Sons of Iraq Groups and Fighters

Anbar 7 SOI groups all Sunni 8000 fighters

Babil 23 SOI groups, 10 Sunni 12 Shiite 1 mixed Sunni-Shiite over 6000 fighters

Baghdad 43 SOI groups 20 mixed Sunni-Shiite over 43,000 fighters

Dhi Qar 2 SOI groups both Shiite over 2000 fighters

Diwaniya 6 SOI groups all Shiite over 1500 fighters

Diyala 10 SOI groups all Sunni 4000 fighters

Ninewa unknown number of groups unknown number of fighters

Salahaddin 54 SOI groups all Sunni over 4000 fighters

Tamim 11 SOI groups all Sunni over 8000 fighters

Wasit unknown number of groups 1500-3000 fighters


Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraqi Force Development,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 2008

Katulis, Brian, Juul, Peter, and Moss, Ian, “Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq,” Center for American Progress, February 2008

Ucko, David, “Upcoming Iraqi Elections Must Consolidate Security Gains of ‘Sons of Iraq,’” World Politics Review, 5/20/08


Anonymous said...

Nice to see someone discussing the Sons of Iraq, which is actually our (American forces) name for them, one which they do not use internally (though they don't mind, for what it's worth.)

I believe your "by May 2003 .... 103,000 SoI fighters" may be a typo (2008?) or an incorrect source reference, sir. Our latest estimates put SoI strength at about 103,000, and they did not exist in 2003, though Sattar and his "al-Sabadeen" ('The 70') had been fighting AQ in defense of their tribe and families since 2004.

Glad to have found your blog today.


Joel Wing said...

Oops. That was an obvious typo. Thanks for pointing it out, fixed it. I actually have some new numbers for the SOI, but not as specific. I need to type it up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know.

Joel Wing said...


If you haven't seen it already, there's also this set of numbers on the SOI from August 2008:

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's Numbers for Sons of Iraq

Security In Iraq May 15-21, 2024

The Islamic State and the Iraqi Islamic Resistance were both active in Iraq during the third week of May.