Over the past 2½ years, Iraqi terrorists have repeatedly targeted oil pipelines and electrical transmission towers. Their attacks have led to interruptions in the shipment of oil and transmission of electricity. As a result, Iraqi production of oil has only barely reached levels prevailing during the Saddam regime, while electrical supplies are frequently disrupted in major cities. To cope with this problem, earlier this year the Iraqi Army authorized the creation of four "Strategic Infrastructure Battalions" (SIBs), at a cost of about $35 million. These units have now begun to supplement the existing security forces of the Oil Ministry, and will eventually also assist those of the Ministry of Electricity.
The SIBs are trained and equipped as light motorized infantry, which permits them to conduct mobile patrols along highly vulnerable oil pipelines and electrical transmission grid, as well as bolster the defenses of pumping stations and transmission nodes.
An additional benefit of creating the four SIBs - with the possibility of more in the future - is that the Iraqi Army can field these units faster than by trying to do the job with regular infantry battalions, which take longer to train and cost more to equip, since they are required to conduct many different types of missions.