WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A recent Marine intelligence assessment on Iraq's Anbar province calls for the deployment of an additional division of troops, according to the New York Times.
The Aug. 16 document, written by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's director of intelligence Col. Peter Devlin, says that without the deployment of an additional division -- usually between 10,000 and 16,000 people -- "there is nothing (Multi-National Forces West) can do to influence the motivation of the Sunni to wage an insurgency," the New York Times reported.
There are roughly 25,000 Marines and Army soldiers now assigned to Anbar province, which is the home base of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. There are also some 19,000 Iraqi army soldiers in the province, but their quality is uneven and like many Iraqi units, sufer high rates of daily absences.
Anbar spans about a third of Iraq geographically and is host to the notoriously violent towns of Fallujah, Ramadi, al-Qaim, Hit, Haditha and Rawah. It also has large tracts of sparsely populated areas, which provide hiding places for people, weapons and cash.
Fallujah and al-Qaim have been mollified through massive military crackdowns and continuous occupation, but there are not enough troops to occupy and pacify the region. Adding to the troop deficit, an Army Stryker unit was deployed from Rawah to Baghdad in August to participate in a security crackdown in the capital.
While top generals in Iraq have maintained there are enough U.S. troops to fight in Iraq, lower level officers like brigade and battalion commanders have expressed wishes for more troops in their areas.
There are some 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, down from a high of 165,000. More than half of those troops, however, are in support and headquarters functions and do not patrol or fight on a daily basis.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman told the House Government Reform Committee Monday the Pentagon is taking the Devlin report seriously, but also said he believes it is a "snapshot" rather than an a reliable overall assessment.
The general findings of the classified document were first disclosed by the Washington Post.