CBS News has learned exclusively that Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Commander in Iraq, is expected to recommend the size of Iraqi security forces be increased by up to 100,000. This comes just as the U.S. military is about to reach its long-stated goal of training and equipping 325,000 Iraqis to take over the fighting from American troops.
Officials say the explosion of sectarian violence, which Gen. Casey calls a fundamental change in the nature of the threat, now makes that number look inadequate. On top of that is the fact that any given day, one quarter of the Iraqi Army is on leave.
Increasing the size of the Iraqi security forces would also mean more American soldiers would be needed to train and advise them. The United States is also considering doubling from 12 to 25 the number of American advisers embedded in each Iraqi unit.
Gen. Casey is also expected to recommend equipping Iraqi security forces with more heavily armored vehicles — police now ride in pick-up trucks — and heavier weapons.
But an audit by a Pentagon Inspector General found that of 370,000 small arms provided to the Iraqis, so far, 14,000 could not be accounted for — and most of the weapons came without spare parts or repair manuals.
Perhaps most alarming is that Iraq may not be able to pay for its army.
"It's going to take $3.5 billion to sustain the Iraqi Army next year, and we're unable to uncover information in the course of the audit to indicate that Iraq was ready to sustain that burden," says Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., the Inspector General.
Increasing the number of Iraqi forces will take time, but if the situation is as bad as al-Maliki says it is, time may be in short supply.