The satellites are "imaging military installations that the Iraqi army occupies," a former official told the Los Angeles Times. "They're imaging training areas that the Iraqi army utilizes. They're imaging roads that Iraqi armored vehicles and large convoys transit."
Officials said the monitoring was part of an expanded effort begun after U.S. military leaders were caught by surprise by the Iraqi army's push into Basra three months ago.
Military officials and experts told the Times the surveillance indicates concern about whether Iraqi military leaders would follow U.S. guidance or fully inform their partners.
"It suggests that we don't have complete confidence in their chain of command or in their willingness to tell us what they're going to do because they may fear that we may try to get them not to do it," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an intelligence and military issues Web site.
But the spying could indicate the Iraqi army reached the level of independence and competency the United States hoped it would, a former military official told the Times.
"The bad news is we're spying on Iraqis," the official said. "The good news is that we have to."