Friday, June 10, 2005

Iraq's broken army

This article from the Washington Post is important because it throws more doubt on the running line from the US that Iraq's security forces are growing in size and skill with each passing day.

A choice excerpt:

Frustrated U.S. soldiers question the Iraqis' courage, discipline and dedication and wonder whether they will ever be able to fight on their own, much less reach the U.S. military's goal of operating independently by the fall.

"I know the party line. You know, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, five-star generals, four-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: The Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period," said 1st Lt. Kenrick Cato, 34, of Long Island, N.Y., the executive officer of McGovern's company, who sold his share in a database firm to join the military full time after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "But from the ground, I can say with certainty they won't be ready before I leave. And I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then."

"We don't want to take responsibility; we don't want it," said Amar Mana, 27, an Iraqi private whose forehead was grazed by a bullet during an insurgent attack in November. "Here, no way. The way the situation is, we wouldn't be ready to take responsibility for a thousand years."
Despite this, American commanders still say they're "on target" with training:
Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, commander of the 42nd Infantry Division, which oversees an area of north-central Iraq that includes Baiji and is the size of West Virginia, called the Iraqi forces "improved and improving." He acknowledged that the Iraqis suffered from a lack of equipment and manpower but predicted that, at least in his area of operation, the U.S. military would meet its goal of having battalion-level units operating independently by the fall.

"I can tell you, making assessments, I think we're on target," he said in an interview.
It's interesting to see Taluto's name here, since he also dropped some interesting comments to the Gulf News recently.

In an interview with the Dubai paper, he admitted a number of "good, honest" Iraqis are part of the insurgency, inspired by their hatred of the occupation. Taluto added that "99.9 per cent" of those captured fighting the Americans were Iraqi, dispelling the claim that foreign fighters make up the bulk of the resistance.

I'd make a bet the Pentagon's going to come down pretty hard on him soon.