Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Analysis: Training Iraqi Army A Slow Process

Petraeus said the enlistment rate had been good despite the danger from insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists, and most Iraqi units were over strength. What the general did not say was that military recruiting does well when unemployment in the civilian sector is high, as in today's Iraq. The build-up of the vanquished country's security forces is the only job training in which the United States is investing human and financial resources on a large scale.

Washington (UPI) Oct 06, 2005
The Bush administration's Iraq exit strategy is that the coming elections will produce a democratic government, and that a sizeable portion of Iraq's security forces reaches Level One, defined as the ability to plan and carry out operations and sustain itself without support from U.S. or allied troops.

With enough protection to encourage Iraqis to go to the polls, the parliamentary elections in January should take care of the first part. How far the Iraqis are from achieving the second depends on who you listen to.

This week, after being briefed by top military officers President Bush said, "The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping the (U.S.-led) coalition address the challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war." But on Tuesday, one of the president's briefers, Gen. David Petraeus, drew a more cautious picture of how that helps shapes up in the field.

"There has been tremendous progress. I am a qualified optimist. I don't want to paint this as sweetness and light. I won't put lipstick on any pigs," he told a conference on Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Petraeus was in charge of the U.S. effort to train and equip Iraqi forces. In perhaps the most detailed public account so far of the state of Iraq's forces he said 115 army combat and special police battalions were rated as being "in the fight," but most needed U.S. or coalition backing in operations against insurgents. Of these about 36 were assessed as being "in the lead," that is, capable of operating independently to a large degree.

At its best, this assessment means a unit has achieved Level One status, but Petraeus said most of the battalions in question were still at the high end of the Level Two category. Observers also recalled that Gen George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander in Iraq, said this week that only a single Iraqi battalion was considered fully at Level One. This was down from three battalions in June (as the Pentagon had revealed to Congress at the time), and it was not one of the previous three. Casey understandably called it "a step backward."

The current strength of Iraq's trained and equipped forces was 197,202 men: the army totaled 91,780, and the police to 105,780. Shiite Arabs were in a majority, Petraeus said, and in an effort to redress the balance the Iraqi government was "reaching out" to members of the Sunni Arab minority. Initially, there had been a good response from the Sunnis, but a "substantial number" had been scared away following a campaign of intimidation by Saddam Hussein diehards.

Petraeus said the enlistment rate had been good despite the danger from insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists, and most Iraqi units were over strength. What the general did not say was that military recruiting does well when unemployment in the civilian sector is high, as in today's Iraq. The build-up of the vanquished country's security forces is the only job training in which the United States is investing human and financial resources on a large scale.

All the officers and many older soldiers had served in Saddam Hussein's military; but despite its reputation, Saddam's forces had been poorly trained by coalition standards. For example, Saddam's forces were not given live ammunition for firing practice. As a result of this precautionary move, said Petraeus, many Iraqi former soldiers belonged to what U.S. instructors called the "Inshallah school of shooting." They fired their weapons without aiming, and "Inshallah" (God willing) hit something.

The pace of training he described under U.S. supervision seemed urgent. At any given time, there were more than 3,000 Iraqis training out-of-country, mainly in neighboring Jordan. The United States and its NATO allies were supplying weapons and materiel, a lot of it free of charge -- T-72 tanks from Hungary, armored personnel carriers from Greece, other equipment from Romania, Estonia, Denmark, and Slovenia.

But overall it was not the picture of a military force poised to take control in any foreseeable future. "It takes time" was a refrain that qualified the general's attempted positive spin in a lengthy and detailed briefing:

A major problem is the Iraqi security forces are evolving while at the same time having to cope with the short term threat of "foreign fighters and al-Qaida's Iraq with all that is under that umbrella," according to Petraeus, and the rate of attrition is enormous, especially in the police. He was referring to deaths and desertions as Iraq's police and soldiers are targeted by the meld of Islamist militants that infiltrate Iraq across the Syrian and Jordanian borders and the terrorists led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Petraeus also sees a longer term threat from the Sunni Arab supported insurgency, the various militias, and the so-called Mahdi army of the fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, and speculates on what sounded like the possibility of a civil war. "There will be drama, perhaps even shooting, perhaps even bloodshed, but the Iraqi leaders can cope with it," he said.

Meanwhile, said Petraeus, shaping the emergent Iraqi army continues "like a cattle drive, and we have to strengthen the herd." he said, and one assumes that the cowboy analogy went down well in the Texan White House.

Related Links
SpaceDaily
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Blair Warns Iran On Iraq Bombings
London (UPI) Oct 06, 2005
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has issued a stark warning to Iran not to interfere with Iraqi affairs, after the British ambassador to Iraq accused the Islamic republic of supplying explosive devices to Iraqi militia for use against British troops.







  • Walker's World - The West's Big Threat
  • U.S. Experts Fear Russia-China Axis
  • US Pushes Japan To Break Deadlock Over Relocation Of Air Base
  • Corridors Of Power: Return Of Diplomacy

  • Analysis: Big News From N. Korea?
  • US Congress Sceptical Over Nuclear Accord With North Korea
  • Iran Says Nuclear Fuel Cycle Not Up For Negotiation
  • South Korea Wants "Active" Steps Before Six-Way Talks

  • India Tests Surface-To-Air Missile
  • BAE SYSTEMS 70mm Laser-Guided Rocket Achieves Two Direct Hits
  • South Korea To Develop New Missile
  • Raytheon NLOS-LS Enhanced Precision Attack Missile Seeker Approved As Baseline Capability

  • AEGIS Weapon System Tracks Advanced, Separating Ballistic Missile Target
  • BMD Focus: Space Defense Budget Mess
  • Bulava Tests Boost Russia's Confidence Against BMD
  • Northrop Grumman Completes First Hardware and Software Integration For SBIRS

  • NGC Awards International Contracts For F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
  • Nigeria To Buy Fighter Planes From China
  • First Joint Air Dominance Center In The World To Open
  • China's Top Airplane Maker Aims To Become Major Global Player

  • IntelliTech's Vector P Completes Successful Agricultural Test Flight
  • Cyber Defense Systems Signs LOI And Reseller Agreement With V-TOL Aerospace
  • NGC Accepts First Production Unit Of New Global Hawk Sensor Suite
  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection Makes History With Launch Of Predator B UAV

  • Blair Warns Iran On Iraq Bombings
  • Iraqi Leader Warns Early Pullout Of Coalition Troops 'Catastrophic'
  • Analysis: Training Iraqi Army A Slow Process
  • Bush Describes Strategy For Victory In Iraq

  • Boeing And Lockheed Martin Cooperate In SDB II Competition
  • EADS, DRS To Work On Laser-Based Obstacle Warning System For Helicopters
  • BAE Systems Displays Armed Robotic Demonstrator At AUSA
  • DRS Tech To Provide Embedded Hull Diagnostics Systems For US Army Vehicles

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement