WHY IRAQ HAS NO ARMY

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Liman Jig Tacker

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Nov 29, 2005, 7:34:52 PM11/29/05
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An orderly exit from Iraq depends on the development of a viable Iraqi security
force, but the Iraqis aren't even close. The Bush administration doesn't take
the problem seriously - and it never has

When Saddam Hussein fell, the Iraqi people gained freedom. What they didn't get
was public order. Looting began immediately, and by the time it abated, signs of
an insurgency had appeared. Four months after the invasion the first bomb that
killed more than one person went off; two years later, through this past summer,
multiplefatality bombings occurred on average once a day. The targets were not
just U.S. troops but Iraqi civilians and, more important, Iraqis who would bring
order to the country. The first major attack on Iraq's own policemen occurred in
October of 2003, when a car bomb killed ten people at a Baghdad police station.
This summer an average often Iraqi policemen or soldiers were killed each day.
It is true, as U.S. officials often point out, that the violence is confined
mainly to four of Iraq's eighteen provinces. But these four provinces contain
the nation's capital and just under half its people.

The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in
an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq - as opposed to simply
evacuating Saigon-style - so long as its military must provide most of the
manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the
insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a
worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist
opponents - to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for
withdrawal.

Therefore one question now trumps others in America's Iraq policy: whether the
United States can foster the development of viable Iraqi security forces, both
military and police units, to preserve order in a new Iraqi state.

The Bush administration's policy toward Iraq is based on the premise that this
job can be done - and done soon enough to relieve the pressures created by the
large-scale U.S. presence in Iraq. These include strains on the U.S. military
from its lone overseas assignments, mounting political resistance in America
because of the cost and casualties of the war, and resentment in Iraq about the
open-ended presence of foreign occupation troops. This is why President Bush and
other officials say so often, "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." American
maximalists who want to transform Iraq into a democracy, American minimalists
who want chiefly to get U.S. troops out as soon as possible, and everyone in
between share an interest in the successful creation of Iraq's own military.

If the United States can foster the development of a sufficiently stable
political system in Iraq, and if it can help train, equip, and support military
and police forces to defend that system, then American policy has a chance of
succeeding. The United States can pull its own troops out of Iraq, knowing that
it has left something sustainable behind. But if neither of those goals is
realistic - if Iraqi politics remains chaotic and the Iraqi military remains
overwhelmed by the insurgent threat - then the American strategy as a whole is
doomed.

As Iraqi politicians struggle over terms of a new constitution, Americans need
to understand the military half of the long-term U.S. strategy: when and whether
Iraqi forces can "stand up."

Early in the occupation American officials acted as if the emergence of an Iraqi
force would be a natural process. "In less than six months we have gone from
zero Iraqis providing security to their country to close to a hundred thousand
Iraqis," Donald Rumsfeld said in October of 2003. "Indeed, the progress has been
so swift that … it will not be long before [Iraqi security forces] will be the
largest and outnumber the U.S. forces, and it shouldn't be too long thereafter
that they will outnumber all coalition forces combined." By the end of this year
the count of Iraqi security forces should indeed surpass the total of American,
British, and other coalition troops in Iraq. Police officers, controlled by
Iraq's Ministry of the Interior, should number some 145,000. An additional
85,000 members of Iraq's army, plus tiny contingents in its navy and air force,
should be ready for duty, under the control of Iran's Ministry of Defense. Since
early this year Iraqi units have fought more and more frequently alongside U.S.
troops.

But most assessments from outside the administration have been far more downbeat
than Rumsfeld's. Time and again since the training effort began, inspection
teams from Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), think tanks,
and the military itself have visited Iraq and come to the same conclusion: the
readiness of many Iraqi units is low, their loyalty and morale are questionable,
regional and ethnic divisions are sharp, their reported numbers overstate their
real effectiveness.

The numbers are at best imperfect measures. Early this year the American-led
training command shifted its emphasis from simple head counts of Iraqi troops to
an assessment of unit readiness based on a four-part classification scheme.
Level 1, the highest, was for "fully capable" units - those that could plan,
execute, and maintain counterinsurgency operations with no help whatsoever. Last
summer Pentagon officials said that three Iraqi units, out of a total of 115
police and army battalions, had reached this level. In September the U.S.
military commander in Iraq, Army General George Casey, lowered that estimate to
one.

Level 2 was for "capable" units, which can fight against insurgents as long as
the United States provides operational assistance (air support, logistics,
communications, and so on). Marine General Peter Pace, who is now the chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last summer that just under one third of
Iraqi army units had reached this level. A few more had by fall. Level 3, for
"partially capable" units, included those that could provide extra manpower in
efforts planned, led, supplied, and sustained by Americans. The remaining two
thirds of Iraqi army units, and half the police, were in this category. Level 4,
"incapable" units, were those that were of no help whatsoever in fighting the
insurgency. Half of all police units were so classified.

In short, if American troops disappeared tomorrow, Iraq would have essentially
no independent security force. Half its policemen would be considered worthless,
and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction,
support. Two thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and
even the better-prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without
foreign help.

The moment when Iraqis can lift much of the burden from American troops is not
yet in sight. Understanding whether this situation might improve requires
understanding what the problems have been so far.

Over the summer and fall I asked a large number of people why Iraq in effect
still had no army, and what, realistically, the United States could expect in
the future. Most were Americans, but I also spoke with experts from Iraq,
Britain, Israel, France, and other countries. Most had served in the military; a
large number had recently been posted in Iraq, and a sizable contingent had
fought in Vietnam. Almost all those still on active duty insisted that I not use
their names. The Army's press office did arrange for me to speak with Lieutenant
General Dave Petraeus, who was just completing his year's assignment as
commander of the training effort in Iraq, before being replaced by Martin
Dempsey, another three-star Army general. But it declined requests for
interviews with Petraeus's predecessor, Major General Paul Eaton, or others who
had been involved in training programs during the first months of the
occupation, or with lower-ranking officers and enlisted men. Many of them wanted
to talk or correspond anyway.

What I heard amounted to this: The United States has recently figured out a
better approach to training Iraqi troops. Early this year it began putting more
money, and more of its best people, on the job. As a result, more Iraqi units
are operating effectively, and fewer are collapsing or deserting under pressure.
In 2004, during major battles in Fallujah, Mosul, and elsewhere, large
percentages of the Iraqi soldiers and policemen supposedly fighting alongside
U.S. forces simply fled when the shooting began. But since the Iraqi elections
last January "there has not been a single case of Iraqi security forces melting
away or going out the back door of the police station," Petraeus told me. Iraqi
recruits keep showing up at police and military enlistment stations, even as
service in police and military units has become more dangerous.

But as the training and numbers are getting somewhat better, the problems
created by the insurgency are getting worse - and getting worse faster than the
Iraqi forces are improving. Measured against what it would take to leave Iraqis
fully in charge of their own security, the United States and the Iraqi
government are losing ground. Absent a dramatic change - in the insurgency, in
American efforts, in resolving political differences in Iraq - America's options
will grow worse, not better, as time goes on.

Here is a sampling of worried voices:

"The current situation will NEVER allow for an effective ISF [Iraqi Security
Force] to be created," a young Marine officer who will not let me use his name
wrote in an e-mail after he returned from Iraq this summer. "We simply do not
have enough people to train forces. If we shift personnel from security duties
to training, we release newly trained ISF into ever-worsening environs."

"A growing number of U.S. military officers in Iraq and those who have returned
from the region are voicing concern that the nascent Iraqi army will fall apart
if American forces are drawn down in the foreseeable future," Elaine Grossman,
of the well-connected newsletter Inside the Pentagon, reported in September.

"U.S. trainers have made a heroic effort and have achieved some success with
some units," Ahmed Hashim, of the Naval War College, told me in an e-mail. "But
the Iraqi Security Forces are almost like a black hole. You put a lot in and
little comes back out."

"I have to tell you that corruption is eating the guts of this
counter-insurgency effort," a civilian wrote in an e-mail from Baghdad. Money
meant to train new troops was leaking out to terrorists, he said. He empathized
with "Iraqi officers here who see and yet are powerless to stop it because of
the corrupt ministers and their aides."

"On the current course we will have two options," I was told by a Marine
lieutenant colonel who had recently served in Iraq and who prefers to remain
anonymous. "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our army, or we can just lose."

The officer went on to say that of course neither option was acceptable, which
is why he thought it so urgent to change course. By "destroy our army" he meant
that it would take years for the U.S. military to recover from the strain on
manpower, equipment, and - most of all - morale that staying in Iraq would put
on it. (Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey had this danger in mind when he
told Time magazine last winter that "the Army's wheels are going to come off in
the next twenty-four months" if it remained in Iraq.) "Losing" in Iraq would
mean failing to overcome the violent insurgency. A continuing insurgency would,
in the view of the officer I spoke with, sooner or later mean the country's
fracture in a bloody civil war. That, in turn, would mean the emergence of a
central "Sunni-stan" more actively hostile to the United States than Saddam
Hussein's Iraq ever was, which could in the next decade be what the Taliban of
Afghanistan was in the 1990s: a haven for al-Qaeda and related terrorists. "In
Vietnam we just lost," the officer said. "This would be losing with
consequences."

How the Iraq story turns out will not be known for years, but based on what is
now knowable, the bleak prospect today is the culmination of a drama's first
three acts. The first act involves neglect and delusion. Americans - and Iraqis
- will spend years recovering from decisions made or avoided during the days
before and after combat began, and through the first year of the occupation. The
second act involves a tentative approach to a rapidly worsening challenge during
the occupation's second year. We are now in the third act, in which Americans
and Iraqis are correcting earlier mistakes but too slowly and too late.

As for the fourth act, it must resolve the tensions created in the previous
three.

I. AUTUMN 2002-AUTUMN 2003: TAKEN BY SURPRISE
"It was clear what might happen in a highly militarized society once the regime
fell," Anthony Cordesman wrote recently. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, in Washington, has produced an authoritative series
of reports of the new Iraqi military, available at the CSIS Web site. "The U.S.
chose to largely ignore these indicators."

In explaining the early failures that plagued the occupation, Cordesman cited
factors that have become familiar: an unrealistic expectation of how long Iraqis
would welcome a foreign force; a deliberate decision to hold down the size of
the invading army; too little preparation for postwar complications; and so on.
Before the invasion Saddam Hussein had employed at least half a million soldiers
and policemen to keep the lid on Iraq. The United States went in with less than
a third that many troops, and because virtually none of them spoke Arabic, they
could rarely detect changes in the Iraqi mood or exert influence except by
force.

But the explanation of early training problems also leads in some less familiar
directions.

One view about why things went so wrong so fast is espoused by Ahmed Chalabi,
onetime leader of the Iraqi National Congress, and American supporters of the
war such as James Woolsey, a former CIA director, and Richard Perle, a former
chairman of the Defense Policy Board. "My view is pretty straightforward,"
Woolsey told me. "We lost five years, thanks to the State Department and the
CIA." The years in question were from 1998, when Congress passed and Bill
Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, advocating regime change in Iraq, to
2003, when U.S. troops moved on Baghdad. The act provided $97 million for arms
and for training expatriate Iraqi forces. "All we had to do was use some of that
money to train mainly Kurdish and Shia units to fight with us, like the Free
French in 1944," Woolsey said. The main counterargument is that a Kurdish-Shiite
invading army would have made it even harder to deal with Sunnis after Saddam
fell.

A different view is strongly held by others among the war's early advocates
within the Bush administration. In discussions with former members of the
administration I was told they felt truly bad about only one intelligence
failure. It did not concern WMD stockpiles in Iraq; the world's other
intelligence agencies all made the same mistake, my informants said, and Saddam
Hussein would have kept trying to build them anyway. What bothered them was that
they did not grasp that he was planning all along to have his army melt away and
re-emerge as a guerrilla force once the Americans took over. In this view the
war against Saddam's "bitter enders" is still going on, and the new Iraqi forces
are developing as fast or as slowly as anyone could expect.

But here is the view generally accepted in the military: the war's planners,
military and civilian, took the postwar transition too much for granted; then
they made a grievous error in suddenly dismissing all members of the Iraqi army;
and then they were too busy with other emergencies and routines to think
seriously about the new Iraqi army.

"Should we have had training teams ready to go the day we crossed the border?"
asks Lieutenant General Jim Mattis, who commanded the 1st Marine Division during
the assault on Iraq (and whom Harrison Ford is scheduled to play in a film about
the battle of Fallujah). "Of course! The military has one duty in a situation
like this, and that is to provide security for the indigenous people. It's the
windbreak behind which everything else can happen." Mattis argued before the war
that teams of civic advisers should have been ready to flood in: mayors from
North America and Europe to work with Iraqi mayors, police chiefs with police
chiefs, all with the goal of preparing the locals to provide public order. "But
we didn't do it, and the bottom line was the loss of security."

Many other people suggest many other sins of omission in preparations for the
war. But at least one aspect of the transition was apparently given careful
thought: how to handle the Iraqi military once it had surrendered or been
defeated. Unfortunately, that careful thought was ignored or overruled.

After years of misuse under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi military had severe
problems, including bad morale, corrupt leadership, shoddy equipment, and a
reputation for brutality. But the regular army numbered some 400,000 members,
and if any of them could be put to use, there would be less work for Americans.

By late 2002, after Congress voted to authorize war if necessary, Jay Garner, a
retired three-star Army general, was thinking about how he might use some of
these soldiers if the war took place and he became the first viceroy of Iraq.
Garner, who had supervised Kurdish areas after the Gulf War, argued for
incorporating much of the military rank-and-file into America's occupation
force. Stripping off the top leadership would be more complicated than with,
say, the Japanese or German army after World War II, because Iraq's army had
more than 10,000 generals. (The U.S. Army, with about the same number of troops,
has around 300 generals.) But, I was told by a former senior official who was
closely involved in making the plans, "the idea was that on balance it was much
better to keep them in place and try to put them to work, public works-style, on
reconstruction, than not to." He continued, "The advantages of using them were:
They had organization. They had equipment, especially organic transport [jeeps,
trucks], which let them get themselves from place to place. They had a
structure. But it was a narrow call, because of all the disadvantages."

Garner intended to put this plan into action when he arrived in Baghdad, in
April of 2003. He told me recently that there were few signs of the previous
army when he first arrived. "But we sent out feelers, and by the first week in
May we were getting a lot of responses back. We had a couple of Iraqi officers
come to me and say, 'We could bring this division back, that division.' We began
to have dialogues and negotiations."

Then, on May 23, came a decision that is likely to be debated for years:
Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2, to disband the Iraqi military
and simply send its members home without pay.

"I always begin with the proposition that this argument is entirely irrelevant,"
Walter Slocombe, the man usually given credit or blame for initiating the
decision, told me in the summer. During the Clinton administration Slocombe was
undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon, the job later made famous by Douglas
Feith. A month after the fall of Baghdad, Slocombe went to the Green Zone as a
security adviser to Paul Bremer, who had just replaced Garner as the ranking
American civilian.

On arrival Slocombe advocated that the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA,
should face the reality that the previous Iraqi army had disappeared. "There was
no intact Iraqi force to 'disband,'" Slocombe said. "There was no practical way
to reconstitute an Iraqi force based on the old army any more rapidly than has
happened. The facilities were just destroyed, and the conscripts were gone and
not coming back." The Bush administration officials who had previously
instructed Garner to reconstitute the military endorsed Slocombe's view: the
negative aspects of consorting with a corrupt, brutal force were still there,
and the positives seemed to be gone. "All the advantages they had ran away with
the soldiers," the senior official involved in the plans said. "The
organization, the discipline, the organic transport. The facts had changed."

The arguments about the decision are bitter, and they turn on two points:
whether the Iraqi army had in fact irreversibly "disbanded itself," as Slocombe
contends, and whether the American authorities could have found some way to
avoid turning the hundreds of thousands of discharged soldiers into an armed and
resentful opposition group. "I don't buy the argument that there was no army to
cashier," says Barak Salmoni, of the Marine Corps Training and Education
Command. "It may have not been showing up to work, but I can assure you that
they would have if there had been dollars on the table. And even if the Iraqi
army did disband, we didn't have to alienate them" - mainly by stopping their
pay. Several weeks later the Americans announced that they would resume some
army stipends, but by then the damage had been done.

Garner was taken by surprise by the decision, and has made it clear that he
considers it a mistake. I asked him about the frequently voiced argument that
there was no place to house the army because the barracks had been wrecked. "We
could have put people in hangars," he said. "That is where our troops were."

The most damaging criticism of the way the decision was made comes from Paul
Hughes, who was then an Army colonel on Garner's staff. "Neither Jay Garner nor
I had been asked about the wisdom of this decree," Hughes recalls. He was the
only person from Garner's administration then talking with Iraqi military
representatives about the terms of their re-engagement. On the eve of the order
to disband, he says, more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers had submitted forms to
receive a one-time $20 emergency payment, from funds seized from Saddam's
personal accounts, which they would show up to collect.

"My effort was not intended to re-activate the Iraqi military," Hughes says.
"Whenever the Iraqi officers asked if they could re-form their units, I was
quite direct with them that if they did, they would be attacked and destroyed.
What we wanted to do was arrange the process by which these hundred thousand
soldiers would register with [the occupation authorities], tell us what they
knew, draw their pay, and then report to selected sites. CPA Order Number Two
simply stopped any effort to move forward, as if the Iraqi military had ceased
to exist. [Walt Slocombe's] statement about the twenty dollars still sticks in
my brain: 'We don't pay armies we defeated.' My Iraqi friends tell me that this
decision was what really spurred the nationalists to join the infant insurgency.
We had advertised ourselves as liberators and turned on these people without so
much as a second thought."

The argument will go on. But about what happened next there is little dispute.
Having eliminated the main existing security force, and having arrived with
fewer troops than past experience in the Balkans, Germany, and Japan would
suggest for so large a territory, American officials essentially wasted the next
six months. By the time they thought seriously about reconstituting Iraq's
military and police forces, the insurgency was under way and the challenge of
pacifying Iraq had magnified.

There is no single comprehensive explanation for what went wrong. After the
tension leading up to the war and the brilliant, brief victory, political and
even military leaders seemed to lose interest, or at least intensity. "Once
Baghdad was taken, Tommy Franks checked out," Victor O'Reilly, who has written
extensively about the U.S. military, told me. "He seemed to be thinking mainly
about his book." Several people I spoke with volunteered this view of Franks,
who was the CENTCOM commander during the war. (Franks did not respond to
interview requests, including those sent through his commercially minded Web
site, TommyFranks.com.) In retrospect the looting was the most significant act
of the first six months after the war. It degraded daily life, especially in
Baghdad, and it made the task of restoring order all the more difficult for the
U.S. or Iraqi forces that would eventually undertake it. But at the time neither
political nor military leaders treated it as urgent. Weeks went by before U.S.
troops effectively intervened.

In June of 2003, as the looting was dying down but the first signs of insurgent
violence were appearing, the CSIS sent a team of experts who had worked in past
occupations. They were alarmed by what they saw. "There is a general sense of
steady deterioration in the security situation, in Baghdad, Mosul, and
elsewhere," they reported. "Virtually every Iraqi and most CPA and coalition
military officials as well as most contractors we spoke to cited the lack of
public safety as their number one concern." At that time, the team pointed out,
some 5,000 U.S. troops were tied down guarding buildings in Baghdad, with two
and a half battalions, representing well over a thousand troops, guarding the
American headquarters alone.

Anthony Cordesman, of the CSIS, says there was never a conscious decision to
delay or ignore training, but at any given moment in the occupation's first
months some other goal always seemed more urgent or more interesting. Through
the first six months of the occupation capturing Saddam Hussein seemed to be the
most important step toward ending the resistance. His two sons were killed in
July; he himself was captured in December; and the insurgency only grew. Along
the way the manhunt relied on detention, interrogation, and
break-down-doors-at-night techniques that hastened resentment of the U.S.
presence. "The search for Saddam colored everything," Victor O'Reilly told me.
"It is my belief that the insurgency was substantially created by the tactics
used by the occupying force, who were initially the saviors, in their search for
Saddam. Ambitious generals, who should have known better, created a very
aggressive do-what-is-necessary culture. Frustrated troops, with no familiarity
with the language or culture, naturally make mistakes. And in a tribal society
if you shoot one person it spreads right through the system."

The hunt for WMD troves, conducted in the same way as the search for Saddam and
by troops with the same inability to understand what was being said around them,
had a similar embittering effect. The junior-level soldiers and Marines I
interviewed consistently emphasized how debilitating the language barrier was.
Having too few interpreters, they were left to communicate their instructions
with gestures and sign language. The result was that American troops were blind
and deaf to much of what was going on around them, and the Iraqis were often
terrified.

General Mattis had stressed to his troops the importance of not frightening
civilians, so as not to turn those civilians into enemies. He, too, emphasizes
the distractions in the first year that diminished the attention paid to
building an Iraqi security force. "There was always something," he told me.
"Instead of focusing on security, we were trying to get oil pipelines patched,
electrical grids back into position, figure out who the engineers were we could
trust, since some of them hated us so much they would do sabotage work. It was
going to take a while."

When Americans did think about a new Iraqi army, they often began with fears
that it might become too strong too fast. "Everybody assumed that within Iraq it
would be peaceful," says T. X. Hammes, the author of The Sling and the Stone,
who was then in Iraq as a Marine Corps colonel. "So the biggest concern was
reassuring all of Iraq's neighbors that Iraq would not be a threat. One of the
ways you do that is by building a motor infantry force with no logistics" - that
is, an army that can't sustain any large-scale offensive operation. Such an army
might assuage concerns in Syria and Iran, but it would do little to provide
internal security, and would not be prepared for domestic counterinsurgency
work. (This tension has not been resolved: to this day the Iraqi government
complains that the United States will not help it get adequate tanks, armored
vehicles, and artillery.) Corrupt use of U.S. aid and domestic Iraqi resources
was a constant and destructive factor. Last August the Knight Ridder newspapers
revealed that Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit had surveyed arms contracts worth
$1.3 billion and concluded that about $500 million had simply disappeared in
payoffs, kickbacks, and fraud.

Training the police would be as big a challenge as training the army. "There was
no image of a non-corrupt police force anywhere in the country," Mattis says.
And to make matters more difficult, the effort began just as the police were
coming under attack from insurgents' bombs and grenades.

Throughout the occupation, but most of all in these early months, training
suffered from a "B Team" problem. Before the fighting there was a huge glamour
gap in the Pentagon between people working on so-called Phase III - the
"kinetic" stage, the currently fashionable term for what used to be called
"combat" - and those consigned to thinking about Phase IV, postwar
reconstruction. The gap persisted after Baghdad fell. Nearly every military
official I spoke with said that formal and informal incentives within the
military made training Iraqi forces seem like second-tier work.

There were exceptions. The Green Berets and other elite units of the Special
Forces have long prided themselves on being able to turn ragtag foreign armies
into effective fighting units. But there weren't enough Special Forces units to
go around, and the mainstream Army and Marine Corps were far less enthusiastic
about training assignments. Especially at the start, training missions were
filled mostly by people who couldn't get combat postings, and by members of the
Reserves and the National Guard.

Walter Slocombe told me that there could have been a larger structural attempt
to deal with the B-Team issue. "If we knew then what we know now," he said -
that is, if people in charge had understood that public order would be the
biggest postwar problem, and that Iraqis would soon resent the presence of
foreigners trying to impose that order - "we would have done things differently.
It would have made sense to have had an American military unit assigned this way
from the beginning. They would be told, 'You guys aren't going to fight this
war. You're not going to get Medals of Honor. But you will get due recognition.
Your job is to run the occupation and train the Iraqis.' And we'd configure for
that mission."

But of course that didn't happen. "I couldn't believe that we weren't ready for
the occupation," Terence Daly, a retired Army colonel who learned the tactics of
counterinsurgency in Vietnam, told me. "I was horrified when I saw the looting
and the American inaction afterward. If I were an Iraqi, it would have shown me
these people are not serious."

II. AUTUMN 2003-AUTUMN 2004: OVERWHELMED
By late 2003 the United States had lost time and had changed identity, from
liberator to occupier. But in its public pronouncements and its internal
guidance the administration resisted admitting, even to itself, that it now
faced a genuine insurgency - one that might grow in strength - rather than
merely facing the dregs of the old regime, whose power would naturally wane as
its leaders were caught and killed. On June 16 Army General John Abizaid, newly
installed as CENTGOM commander, was the first senior American official to say
that in fact the United States now faced a "classical guerrilla-type campaign."
Two days later, in congressional testimony, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary
of defense, seemed to accept the definition, saying, "There is a guerrilla war
there, but … we can win it." On June 30 Rumsfeld corrected both of them, saying
that the evidence from Iraq "doesn't make it anything like a guerrilla war or an
organized resistance." Two days after that President Bush said at a White House
ceremony that some people felt that circumstances in Iraq were "such that they
can attack us there. My answer is, Bring them on." Meanwhile, the insurgency in
Iraq grew worse and worse.

Improving the training of Iraqis suddenly moved up the list of concerns. Karl
Eikenberry, an Army general who had trained Afghan forces after the fall of the
Taliban, was sent to Iraq to see what was wrong. Pentagon briefers referred more
and more frequently to the effort to create a new Iraqi military. By early 2004
the administration had decided to spend more money on troop training, and to
make it more explicitly part of the U.S. mission in Iraq. It was then that a
grim reality hit: how hard this process would actually be.

"Training is not just learning how to fire a gun," I was told by a congressional
staff member who has traveled frequently to Afghanistan since 9/11. "That's a
part of it, but only a small part." Indeed, basic familiarity with guns is an
area in which Iraqis outdo Americans. Walter Slocombe says that the CPA tried to
enforce a gun-control law - only one AK-47 per household - in the face of a
widespread Iraqi belief that many families needed two, one for the house and one
for traveling.

Everyone I interviewed about military training stressed that it was only
trivially about teaching specific skills. The real goal was to transform a
civilian into a soldier. The process runs from the individual level, to the
small groups that must trust one another with their lives, to the combined units
that must work in coordination rather than confusedly firing at one another, to
the concept of what makes an army or a police force different from a gang of
thugs.

"The simple part is individual training," Jay Garner says. "The difficult part
is collective training. Even if you do a good job of all that, the really
difficult thing is all the complex processes it takes to run an army. You have
to equip it. You have to equip all units at one time. You have to pay them on
time. They need three meals a day and a place to sleep. Fuel. Ammunition. These
sound simple, but they're incredibly difficult. And if you don't have them,
that's what makes armies not work."

In countless ways the trainers on site faced an enormous challenge. The legacy
of Saddam Hussein was a big problem. It had encouraged a military culture in
which officers were privileged parasites, enlisted soldiers were cannon fodder,
and noncommissioned officers - the sergeants who make the U.S. military function
- were barely known. "We are trying to create a professional NCO corps," Army
Major Bob Bateman told me. "Such a thing has never existed anywhere in the
region. Not in regular units, not in police forces, not in the military."

The ethnic and tribal fissures in Iraq were another big problem. Half a dozen
times in my interviews I heard variants on this Arab saying: "Me and my brother
against my cousin; me and my cousin against my village; me and my village
against a stranger." "The thing that holds a military unit together is trust,"
T. X. Hammes says. "That's a society not based on trust." A young Marine officer
wrote in an e-mail, "Due to the fact that Saddam murdered, tortured, raped, etc.
at will, there is a limited pool of 18-35-year-old males for service that are
physically or mentally qualified for service. Those that are fit for service,
for the most part, have a DEEP hatred for those not of the same ethnic or
religious affiliation."

The Iraqi culture of guns was, oddly, not an advantage but another problem. It
had created gangs, not organized troops. "It's easy to be a gunman and hard to
be a soldier," one expert told me. "If you're a gunman, it doesn't matter if
your gun shoots straight. You can shoot it in the general direction of people,
and they'll run." Many American trainers refer to an Iraqi habit of "Inshallah
firing," also called "death blossom" marksmanship. "That is when they pick it up
and start shooting," an officer now on duty in Baghdad told me by phone. "Death
just blossoms around them."

The constant attacks from insurgents were a huge problem, and not just in the
obvious ways. The U.S. military tries hard to separate training from combat.
Combat is the acid test, but over time it can, strangely, erode proficiency.
Under combat pressure troops cut corners and do whatever it takes to survive.
That is why when units return from combat, the Pentagon officially classifies
them as "unready" until they have rested and been retrained in standard
procedures. In principle the training of Iraqi soldiers and policemen should
take place away from the battlefield, but they are under attack from the moment
they sign up. The pressure is increased because of public hostility to the
foreign occupiers. "I know an Iraqi brigade commander who has to take off his
uniform when he goes home, so nobody knows what he's done," Barak Salmon told
me. The Iraqi commander said to him, "It really tugs at our minds that we have
to worry about our families' dying in the insurgency when we're fighting the
insurgency somewhere else." The GAO found that in these circumstances security
units from "troubled townships" often deserted en masse.

The United States, too, brought its own range of problems. One was legislative.
Because U.S. forces had helped prop up foreign dictators, Congress in the 1970s
prohibited most forms of American aid to police forces - as distinct from armies
- in other countries. For the purposes of containing the insurgency in Iraq the
distinction was meaningless. But administration officials used up time and
energy through 2004 figuring out an answer to this technical-sounding yet
important problem.

Language remained a profound and constant problem. One of the surprises in
asking about training Iraqi troops was how often it led to comparisons with
Vietnam. Probably because everything about the Vietnam War took longer to
develop, "Vietnamization" was a more thought-through, developed strategy than
"Iraqization" has had a chance to be. A notable difference is that Americans
chosen for training assignments in Vietnam were often given four to six months
of language instruction. That was too little to produce any real competence, but
enough to provide useful rudiments that most Americans in Iraq don't have.

The career patterns of the U.S. military were a problem. For family reasons, and
to keep moving up in rank, American soldiers rotate out of Iraq at the end of a
year. They may be sent back to Iraq, but probably on a different assignment in a
different part of the country. The adviser who has been building contacts in a
village or with a police unit is gone, and a fresh, non-Arabic-speaking face
shows up. "All the relationships an adviser has established, all the knowledge
he has built up, goes right with him," Terence Daly, the counterinsurgency
specialist from the Vietnam War, says. Every manual on counterinsurgency
emphasizes the need for long-term personal relations. "We should put out a call
for however many officers and NCOs we need," Daly says, "and give them six
months of basic Arabic. In the course of this training we could find the ones
suited to serve there for five years. Instead we treat them like widgets."

All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a
boring issue. Opponents of the war rarely talked about it. Supporters reeled off
encouraging but hollow statistics as part of a checklist of successes the press
failed to report. President Bush placed no emphasis on it in his speeches.
Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq in general and
this tedious process in particular, neither of which could match the challenge
of transforming America's military establishment.

The lack of urgency showed up in such mundane ways as equipment shortages. In
the spring of 2004 investigators from the GAO found that the Iraqi police had
only 41 percent of the patrol vehicles they needed, 21 percent of the hand-held
radios, and nine percent of the protective vests. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps,
a branch of the military, had received no protective vests at all. According to
the GAO report, "A multinational force assessment noted that Iraqis within the
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps felt the multinational force never took them
seriously, as exhibited by what they perceived as the broken promises and the
lack of trust of the multinational force."

Although most people I spoke with said they had warm relations with many of
their Iraqi counterparts, the lack of trust applied on the U.S. side as well.
American trainers wondered how many of the skills they were imparting would
eventually be used against them, by infiltrators or by soldiers who later
changed sides. Iraq's Ministry of Defense has complained that the United States
is supplying simpler equipment, such as AK-47s rather than the more powerful M4
rifles, and pickup trucks rather than tanks. Such materiel may, as U.S.
officials stress, be far better suited to Iraq's current needs. It would also be
less troublesome if Iraq and the United States came to be no longer on friendly
terms.

And the biggest problem of all was the kind of war this new Iraqi army had to
fight.

"Promoting disorder is a legitimate objective for the insurgent," a classic book
about insurgency says.

It helps to disrupt the economy, hence to produce discontent;
it serves to undermine the strength and the authority of the
counterinsurgent [that is, government forces]. Moreover,
disorder … is cheap to create and very costly to prevent.
The insurgent blows up a bridge, so every bridge has to be
guarded; he throws a grenade in a movie theater, so every person
entering a public place has to be searched.

The military and political fronts are so closely connected, the book concludes,
that progress on one is impossible without progress on the other: "Every
military move has to be weighed with regard to its political effects, and vice
versa."

This is not a book about Iraq. The book is Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and
Practice, which was published nearly forty years ago by a French soldier and
military analyst, David Galula, and is based on his country's experiences in
Algeria and Vietnam.

Counterinsurgency scholarship has boomed among military intellectuals in the
2000s, as it did in the 1960s, and for the same reason: insurgents are the enemy
we have to fight. "I've been reading a lot of T. E. Lawrence, especially through
the tough times," Dave Petraeus said when I asked where he had looked for
guidance during his year of supervising training efforts. An influential book on
counterinsurgency by John Nagl, an Army lieutenant colonel who commanded a tank
unit in Iraq, is called Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife. That was Lawrence's
metaphor for the skills needed to fight Arab insurgents.

"No modern army using conventional tactics has ever defeated an insurgency,"
Terence Daly told me. Conventional tactics boil down to killing the enemy. At
this the U.S. military, with unmatchable firepower and precision, excels.
"Classic counterinsurgency, however, is not primarily about killing insurgents;
it is about controlling the population and creating a secure environment in
which to gain popular support," Daly says.

From the vast and growing literature of counterinsurgency come two central
points. One, of course, is the intertwining of political and military
objectives: in the long run this makes local forces like the Iraqi army more
potent than any foreigners; they know the language, they pick up subtle signals,
they have a long-term stake. The other is that defeating an insurgency is the
very hardest kind of warfare. The United States cannot win this battle in Iraq.
It hopes the Iraqis can.

Through the second year of occupation most of the indications were dark. An
internal Pentagon report found,

The first Iraqi Army infantry battalions finished basic training
in early 2004 and were immediately required in combat without
complete equipment … Absent-without-leave rates among
regular army units were in double digits and remained so for
the rest of the year.

I asked Robert Pape about the AWOL and desertion problems that had plagued Iraqi
forces in Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere. Pape, of the University of Chicago, is
the author of Dying to Win, a recent book about suicide terrorism. "Really, it
was not surprising that this would happen," he said. "You were taking a force
that had barely been stood up and asking it to do one of the most demanding
missions possible: an offensive mission against a city. Even with a highly loyal
force you were basically asking them to sacrifice themselves. Search and destroy
would be one of the last things you would want them to do."

A GAO report showed the extent of the collapse. Fifty percent of the Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps in the areas around Baghdad deserted in the first half of April.
So did 30 percent of those in the northeastern area around Tikrit and the
southeast near al-Kut. And so did 80 percent of the forces around Fallujah.

This was how things still stood on the eve of America's presidential election
and the beginning of a new approach in Baghdad.

III. AUTUMN 2004-AUTUMN 2005: PROGRESS BUT NO URGENCY
At the end of June 2004 Ambassador Bremer went home. His Coalition Provisional
Authority ceased to exist, and an interim Iraqi government, under a prime
minister selected by the Americans, began planning for the first nationwide
elections, which were held in January of this year. The first U.S. ambassador to
postwar Iraq, John D. Negroponte, was sworn in as Bremer left. And a new
American Army general arrived to supervise the training of Iraqis: Dave
Petraeus, who had just received his third star.

The appointment was noticed throughout the military. Petraeus, who holds a Ph.D.
from Princeton, had led the 101st Airborne during its drive on Mosul in 2003 and
is one of the military's golden boys. What I heard about him from other soldiers
reminded me of what reporters used to hear about Richard Holbrooke from other
diplomats: many people marveled at his ambition; few doubted his skills.
Petraeus's new assignment suggested that training Iraqis had become a sexier and
more important job. By all accounts Petraeus and Negroponte did a lot to make up
for lost time in the training program.

Under Petraeus the training command abandoned an often ridiculed way of
measuring progress. At first Americans had counted all Iraqis who were simply
"on duty" - a total that swelled to more than 200,000 by March of 2004. Petraeus
introduced an assessment of "unit readiness," as noted above. Training had been
underfunded in mid-2004, but more money and equipment started to arrive.

The training strategy also changed. More emphasis was put on embedding U.S.
advisers with Iraqi units. Teams of Iraqi foot soldiers were matched with D.S.
units that could provide the air cover and other advanced services they needed.
To save money and reduce the chance of a coup, Saddam Hussein's soldiers had
only rarely, or never, fired live ammunition during training. According to an
unpublished study from the U.S. Army War College, even the elite units of the
Baghdad Republican Guard were allowed to fire only about ten rounds of
ammunition per soldier in the year before the war, versus about 2,500 rounds for
the typical U.S. infantry soldier. To the amazement of Iraqi army veterans,
Petraeus introduced live-fire exercises for new Iraqi recruits.

At the end of last year, as the Iraqi national elections drew near, Negroponte
used his discretion to shift $2 billion from other reconstruction projects to
the training effort. "That will be seen as quite a courageous move, and one that
paid big dividends," Petraeus told me. "It enabled the purchase of a lot of
additional equipment, extra training, and more rebuilding of infrastructure,
which helped us get more Iraqi forces out in the field by the January 30
elections."

The successful staging of the elections marked a turning point - at least for
the training effort. Political optimism faded with the subsequent deadlocks over
the constitution, but "we never lost momentum on the security front," Petraeus
told me. During the elections more than 130,000 Iraqi troops guarded more than
5,700 polling stations; there were some attacks, but the elections went forward.
"We have transitioned six or seven bases to Iraqi control," he continued,
listing a variety of other duties Iraqi forces had assumed. "The enemy
recognizes that if Iraqi security forces ever really get traction, they are in
trouble. So all of this is done in the most challenging environment imaginable."

Had the training units avoided the "B Team" taint? By e-mail I asked an officer
on the training staff about the "loser" image traditionally attached to such
jobs within the military. He wrote back that although training slots had long
been seen as "career killers," the importance of the effort in Iraq was changing
all that. From others not involved in training I heard a more guarded view: If
an Iraqi army emerges, the image of training will improve; if it doesn't, the
careers of Petraeus and his successor Dempsey will suffer.

Time is the problem. As prospects have brightened inside the training program,
they have darkened across the country. From generals to privates, every soldier
I spoke with stressed that the military campaign would ultimately fail without
political progress. If an army has no stable government to defend, even the
best-trained troops will devolve into regional militias and warlord gangs. "I
always call myself a qualified optimist, but the qualification is Iraqi leaders
muddling through," one senior officer told me. "Certain activities are beyond
Americans' control."

Ethnic tensions divide Iraq, and they divide the new army. "Thinking that we
could go in and produce a unified Iraqi army is like thinking you could go into
the South after the Civil War and create an army of blacks and whites fighting
side by side," Robert Pape, of the University of Chicago, told me. "You can pay
people to go through basic training and take moderate risks. But unless they're
really loyal to a government, as the risks go up, they will run." Almost every
study of the new Iraqi military raises doubts about how loyally "Iraqi" it is,
as opposed to Kurdish, Shiite, or Sunni. The most impressive successes by
"Iraqi" forces have in fact been by units that were really Kurdish peshmurga or
Shiite militias.

"There is still no sense of urgency," T. X. Hammes says. In August, he pointed
out, the administration announced with pride that it had bought 200 new armored
vehicles for use in Iraq. "Two-plus years into the war, and we're proud! Can you
imagine if in March of 1944 we had proudly announced two hundred new vehicles?"
By 1944 American factories had been retooled to produce 100,000 warplanes. "From
the president on down there is no urgency at all."

Since last June, President Bush has often repeated his "As Iraqi forces stand up
…" formula, but he rarely says anything more specific about American exit plans.
When he welcomed Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, to the White House in
September, his total comment on the training issue in a substantial welcoming
speech was "Our objective is to defeat the enemies of a free Iraq, and we're
working to prepare more Iraqi forces to join the fight." This was followed by
the stand up/stand down slogan. Vice President Cheney sounds similarly dutiful.
("Our mission in Iraq is clear," he says in his typical speech. "On the military
side we are hunting down the terrorists and training Iraqi security forces so
they can take over responsibility for defending their own country." He usually
follows with the slogan but with no further details or thoughts.)

Donald Rumsfeld has the same distant tone. Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz
have moved on to different things. At various times since 9/11 members of the
administration have acted as if catching Osarna bin Laden, or changing Social
Security, or saving Terri Schiavo, or coping with Hurricane Katrina, mattered
more than any possible other cause. Creating an Iraqi military actually matters
more than al most anything else. But the people who were intent on the war have
lost interest in the only way out.

A Marine lieutenant colonel said, "You tell me who in the White House devotes
full time to winning this war." The answer seems to be Meghan O'Sullivan, a
former Brookings scholar who is now the president's special assistant for Iraq.
As best I can tell from Nexis, other online news sources, and the White House
Web site, since taking the job, late last year, she has made no public speeches
or statements about the war.

IV. HOW TO LEAVE WITH HONOR
Listening to the Americans who have tried their best to create an Iraqi military
can be heartening. They send e-mails or call late at night Iraq time to report
successes. A Web magazine published by the training command, called The Advisor,
carries photos of American mentors working side by side with their Iraqi
students, and articles about new training techniques. The Americans can sound
inspired when they talk about an Iraqi soldier or policeman who has shown
bravery and devotion in the truest way - by running toward battle rather than
away from it, or rushing to surround a suicide bomber and reduce the number of
civilians who will be killed.

But listening to these soldiers and advisers is also deeply discouraging - in
part because so much of what they report is discouraging in itself, but even
more because the conversations head to a predictable dead end. Sooner or later
the question is What do we do now? or What is the way out? And the answer is
that there is no good answer.

Let me suggest a standard for judging endgame strategies in Iraq, given the
commitment the United States has already made. It begins with the recognition
that even if it were possible to rebuild and fully democratize Iraq, as a matter
of political reality the United States will not stay to see it through. (In
Japan, Germany, and South Korea we did see it through. But while there were
postwar difficulties in all those countries, none had an insurgency aimed at
Americans.) But perhaps we could stay long enough to meet a more modest
standard.

What is needed for an honorable departure is, at a minimum, a country that will
not go to war with itself, and citizens who will not turn to large-scale murder.
This requires Iraqi security forces that are working on a couple of levels: a
national army strong enough to deter militias from any region and loyal enough
to the new Iraq to resist becoming the tool of any faction; policemen who are
sufficiently competent, brave, and honest to keep civilians safe. If the United
States leaves Iraq knowing that non-American forces are sufficient to keep
order, it can leave with a clear conscience - no matter what might happen a year
or two later.

In the end the United States may not be able to leave honorably. The pressure to
get out could become too great. But if we were serious about reconstituting an
Iraqi military as quickly as possible, what would we do? Based on these
interviews, I have come to this sobering conclusion: the United States can best
train Iraqis, and therefore best help itself leave Iraq, only by making certain
very long-term commitments to stay.

Some of the changes that soldiers and analysts recommend involve greater urgency
of effort, reflecting the greater importance of making the training succeed.
Despite brave words from the Americans on the training detail, the larger
military culture has not changed to validate what they do. "I would make
advising an Iraqi battalion more career-enhancing than commanding an American
battalion," one retired Marine officer told me. "If we were serious, we'd be
gutting every military headquarters in the world, instead of just telling units
coming into the country they have to give up twenty percent of their officers as
trainers."

The U.S. military does everything in Iraq worse and slower than it could if it
solved its language problems. It is unbelievable that American fighting ranks
have so little help. Soon after Pearl Harbor the U.S. military launched major
Japanese-language training institutes at universities and was screening draftees
to find the most promising students. America has made no comparable effort to
teach Arabic. Nearly three years after the invasion of Iraq the typical company
of 150 or so U.S. soldiers gets by with one or two Arabic-speakers. T. X. Hammes
says that U.S. forces and trainers in Iraq should have about 22,000
interpreters, but they have nowhere near that many. Some 600,000 Americans can
speak Arabic. Hammes has proposed offering huge cash bonuses to attract the
needed numbers to Iraq.

In many other ways the flow of dollars and effort shows that the military does
not yet take Iraq - let alone the training effort there - seriously. The
Pentagon's main weapons-building programs are the same now that they were five
years ago, before the United States had suffered one attack and begun two wars.
From the Pentagon's policy statements, and even more from its budgetary choices,
one would never guess that insurgency was our military's main challenge, and
that its main strategic hope lay in the inglorious work of training foreign
troops. Planners at the White House and the Pentagon barely imagined before the
war that large numbers of U.S. troops would be in Iraq three years later. So
most initiatives for Iraq have been stopgap - not part of a systematic effort to
build the right equipment, the right skills, the right strategies, for a
long-term campaign.

Some other recommended changes involve more-explicit long-range commitments.
When officers talk about the risk of "using up" or "burning out" the military,
they mean that too many arduous postings, renewed too frequently, will drive
career soldiers out of the military. The recruitment problems of the National
Guard are well known. Less familiar to the public but of great concern in the
military is the "third tour" phenomenon: A young officer will go for his first
year-long tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, and then his second. Facing the prospect
of his third, he may bail out while he still has time to start another, less
stressful career.

For the military's sake soldiers need to go to Iraq less often, and for shorter
periods. But success in training Iraqis will require some Americans to stay
there much longer. Every book or article about counterinsurgency stresses that
it is an intimate, subjective, human business. Establishing trust across
different cultures takes time. After 9/11 everyone huffed about the shocking
loss of "human intelligence" at America's spy agencies. But modern American
culture - technological, fluid, transient - discourages the creation of the
slow-growing, subtle bonds necessary for both good spy work and good military
liaison. The British had their India and East Asia hands, who were effective
because they spent years in the field cultivating contacts. The American
military has done something similar with its Green Berets. For the training
effort to have a chance, many, many more regular soldiers will need to commit to
long service in Iraq.

The United States will have to agree to stay in Iraq in another significant way.
When U.S. policy changed from counting every Iraqi in uniform to judging how
many whole units were ready to function, a triage decision was made. The Iraqis
would not be trained anytime soon for the whole range of military functions;
they would start with the most basic combat and security duties. The idea, as a
former high-ranking administration official put it, was "We're building a
spearhead, not the whole spear."

The rest of the spear consists of the specialized, often technically advanced
functions that multiply the combat units' strength. These are as simple as
logistics - getting food, fuel, ammunition, spare parts, where they are needed -
and as complex as battlefield surgical units, satellite-based spy services, and
air support from helicopters and fighter planes.

The United States is not helping Iraq develop many of these other functions.
Sharp as the Iraqi spearhead may become, on its own it will be relatively weak.
The Iraqis know their own territory and culture, and they will be fighting an
insurgency, not a heavily equipped land army. But if they can't count on the
Americans to keep providing air support, intelligence and communications
networks, and other advanced systems, they will never emerge as an effective
force. So the United States will have to continue to provide all this. The
situation is ironic. Before the war insiders argued that sooner or later it
would be necessary to attack, because the U.S. Air Force was being "strained" by
its daily sorties over Iraq's no-fly zones. Now that the war is over, the United
States has taken on a much greater open-ended obligation.

In sum, if the United States is serious about getting out of Iraq, it will need
to re-consider its defense spending and operations rather than leaving them to a
combination of inertia, Rumsfeld-led plans for "transformation," and emergency
stopgaps. It will need to spend money for interpreters. It will need to create
large new training facilities for American troops, as happened within a few
months of Pearl Harbor, and enroll talented people as trainees. It will need to
make majors and colonels sit through language classes. It will need to broaden
the Special Forces ethic to much more of the military, and make clear that
longer tours will be the norm in Iraq. It will need to commit air, logistics,
medical, and intelligence services to Iraq - and understand that this is a
commitment for years, not a temporary measure. It will need to decide that there
are weapons systems it does not require and commitments it cannot afford if it
is to support the ones that are crucial. And it will need to make these
decisions in a matter of months, not years - before it is too late.

America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the
emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a
force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States
must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious
changes - including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years - that
would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark
fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly.

Having eliminated the existing security force, American officials wasted the
next six months. By the time they thought seriously about reconstituting Iraq's
military and police, the insurgency was under way.

By early 2004 the administration had decided to spend more money on Iraqi troop
training and make it an explicit part of the U.S. mission. It was then that a
grim reality hit: how hard this process would actually be.

All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a
boring issue. Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq
in general and this tedious process in particular.

"U.S. trainers have made a heroic effort," Ahmed Hashim, an expert at the Naval
War College, explains. "But the Iraqi Security Forces are almost like a black
hole. You put a lot in and little comes back out."

Last summer Marine General Peter Pace said that three Iraqi units had reached
the "fully capable" level. In September the U.S. military commander in Iraq,
Army General George Casey, lowered that estimate to one.

America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the
emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. All current indications suggest that
no such viable Iraqi security force is about to emerge.

Title: WHY IRAQ HAS NO ARMY , By: Fallows, James, Atlantic, 10727825, Dec2005,
Vol. 296, Issue 5

Hey Republicans, got your Intelligent Design flu shot yet?

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