Consider the progress of the Iraqi security forces over the past year. In August 2004, five Iraqi army battalions were effectively in the fight. Today the number is 95.
In July 2004, there were no ready operational Iraqi army divisions or brigade headquarters. Today there are at least seven operational divisions and 31 operational brigade headquarters.
In July of 2004 there were no ready special police commando, public order or mechanized police battalions under the Ministry of Interior. Today there are 28 such battalions conducting operations.
And last year there were about 96,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi security forces. And today there are over 212,000 trained and equipped security forces.
Strange, really. In October 2003 Big Don said:
In less than six months, we've gone from zero Iraqis providing security to their country -- you don't have that chart, there it is -- to close to 100,000 Iraqis currently under arms.
Indeed, the progress has been so swift that Iraq is already the second largest of the security forces in the coalition. It will not be long before they will be the largest and outnumber the U.S. forces. And it shouldn't be too long thereafter that they will outnumber all coalition forces combined. Some have suggested that any statement that raises awareness of these successes is putting an optimistic face on a difficult security situation. Not so. Every time we've discussed progress in Iraq, I have made clear that the situation in the country remains dangerous, and that there will be setbacks.