Wednesday, November 22

Our Last, Best Hope in Iraq is slipping away...

So far over 300,000 Iraqi Troops have been trained on our watch, yet the death tolls in Iraq last month reach it's highest rate yet with over 3,700 Civilians killed. We've committed well over $200 Billion to this grand enterprise, yet the results continue to worsen.

The dilemna that faces us now, is that we can't. just. walk. away. We have to leave an Iraq that is capable of defending itself. It's not just about ramping up or ramping down our own troops - it should be about Ramping Up the Iraqi troops. Getting them on the front line. Rotating our own guys back into the rear areas.

We need one thing - an effective Force Transition Plan.

It's not withdrawal or redeployment, it's replacement.

Unfortunately Bush and the Gang That Can't Shoot Straight (except for Cheney who shoots Lawyers just fine) - seemed to have mucked another one up.

The U.S. military's effort to train Iraqi forces has been rife with problems, from officers being sent in with poor preparation to a lack of basic necessities such as interpreters and office materials, according to internal Army documents.

The shortcomings have plagued a program that is central to the U.S. strategy in Iraq and is growing in importance. A Pentagon effort to rethink policies in Iraq is likely to suggest placing less emphasis on combat and more on training and advising, sources say.

More emphasis on training - ya think? After three years they're just figuring this one out?

John McCain has been making tons of noise about increasing our troop levels by 20 or 40,000 - when what we really need is 400,000. Charlie Rangel - in a move eriely reminicent of a West Wing Plot Line - has been calling for a New Draft.

What I've been screaming for months has been - what about 200,000+ Iraqi Troops we've already trained?

Apparently I've finally got my answer and it's not pleasant.

In dozens of official interviews compiled by the Army for its oral history archives, officers who had been involved in training and advising Iraqis bluntly criticized almost every aspect of the effort. Some officers thought that team members were often selected poorly. Others fretted that the soldiers who prepared them had never served in Iraq and lacked understanding of the tasks of training and advising. Many said they felt insufficiently supported by the Army while in Iraq, with intermittent shipments of supplies and interpreters who often did not seem to understand English.

The Iraqi officers interviewed by an Army team also had complaints; the top one was that they were being advised by officers far junior to them who had never seen combat.

Some of the American officers even faulted their own lack of understanding of the task. "If I had to do it again, I know I'd do it completely different," reported Maj. Mike Sullivan, who advised an Iraqi army battalion in 2004. "I went there with the wrong attitude and I thought I understood Iraq and the history because I had seen PowerPoint slides, but I really didn't."

Powerpoint slides? Oh. My. God.

What the hell is wrong with making Training the last leg of each soldiers regular combat rotation? We can train our own guys, but we can't get this done for the Iraqis? This is the master cluster-fuck right here.

There is the allegations that the loyalties of the Iraqis we train have been more with their own religious sect than to the national government. That some of the Shia militia and death squad members who've been causing much of the violence were actually trained by us.

Many worried that the Iraqi units being advised contained insurgents. An Iraqi National Guard battalion "was infiltrated by the enemy," said Maj. Michael Monti, a Marine who was an adviser in the Upper Euphrates Valley in 2004 and 2005.

Some advisers reported being personally targeted by infiltrators. "We had insurgents that we detected and arrested in the battalion that were planning an operation against me and my team," Allen said.

But Iraqi officers may have had even more to fear, because their families were also vulnerable. "I went through seven battalion commanders in eight weeks," Allen noted. Dixon reported that in Samarra both his battalion commander and intelligence officer deserted just before a major operation.

At this point in time the Iraqi people overwhelmingly wish us to leave.

“Seven out of ten Iraqis overall–including both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)–say they want the United States to leave within a year.” Note: less than 10% of Iraqis nationwide support a U.S. withdrawal only as “the security situation improves,” the current policy of the Bush administration.

Similarly 61% of Iraqis beleive the violence will decrease once our forces have departed, and 53% beleive our setting a timetable would strengthen their Government. On 23% disagree.

It seems clear that our attempts quell the violence in Bahgdad by beefing-up the American presence only managed to accomplish the reverse.

Perhaps we really do need to pull some of our Combat guys off the front line and have them focus on one thing and one thing only - Training their Iraqi Replacements, and training them Well.

According to everything we've heard for months - there are only about 1000 Al Qeada Fighters in Iraq.

At a certain point, the Iraqis are going to have to take care of Al Qaeda and themselves. We should have a Laser-Like focus on getting them to that point - step by step.

We only lose - if we continue to Fuck That Process Up, exact as BushGov has done so far.


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