Sunday, June 24, 2007

US Generals - Iraqi Forces Too Weak To Hold U.S. Gains

By Cernig

So much for the "hold" part of "clear and hold" - which means we're back to whack-a-mole.
BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. commander of a new offensive north of Baghdad, reclaiming insurgent territory day by day, said Sunday his Iraqi partners may be too weak to hold onto the gains.

The Iraqi military does not even have enough ammunition, said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek: ``They're not quite up to the job yet.''

His counterpart south of Baghdad seemed to agree, saying U.S. troops are too few to garrison the districts newly rid of insurgents. ``It can't be coalition (U.S.) forces. We have what we have. There's got to be more Iraqi security forces,'' said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch.

The two commanders spoke after a deadly day for the U.S. military in Iraq. At least 11 soldiers were killed on Saturday from roadside bombings and other causes, leaving at least 31 dead for the week.

...``We're closing the noose,'' Bednarek told The Associated Press. ``It's the hardcore fighters left - guys who will die for their cause.''

He said U.S. forces now control about 60 percent of the city's west side, but ``the challenge now is, how do you hold onto the terrain you've cleared? You have to do that shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi security forces. And they're not quite up to the job yet.''

Across Diyala province, where Baqouba is the capital, Iraqi troops are short on uniforms, weapons, ammunition, trucks and radios, he said.

Bednarek predicted it would be weeks before Iraqi police and soldiers could keep al-Qaida out of western Baqouba, and months before they were able to do the same on the city's east side and outlying villages.

Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and of an operation clearing Baghdad's southern outskirts, was asked at a news conference whether he thought Iraqi troops would be able to secure his gains.

``There's not enough of them, there's not enough of them,'' Lynch replied. ``So I believe the Iraqi government has got to work to create more Iraqi security forces.''
I somehow doubt that Petraeus will get any of the blame for his own failure. As commander in charge of training Iraqi forces back in 2004 he was upbeat in a WaPo op-ed.
Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.
Now, almost two years later, the paucity of training and the widespread looting of Iraq's military equipment budget which occurred as Petraeus was writing those very words, and for which he was the U.S. commander in charge, have come home to roost.

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