Sunday, October 02, 2005
Decline in Iraqi Troops' Rediness
By Josh White and Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 30, 2005; Page A12
The number of Iraqi army battalions that can fight insurgents without U.S. and coalition help has dropped from three to one, top U.S. generals told Congress yesterday, adding that the security situation in Iraq is too uncertain to predict large-scale American troop withdrawals anytime soon.
GOI: How can we feel like we are making progress in Iraq and coming home when we see a severe drop in Iraqi troop readiness by two thirds. The military and civilian leaders of the Bush administration were hoping to bring some troops home by next year but I do not see that happening unfortunately in 6-12 months.
Casey (General George W. Casey Jr.) also said that the "Iraqi armed forces will not have an independent capability for some time."
GOI: Now, I am not one of those liberals that believes in "cutting and running" (unless in the case of a civil war) but I am concerned when we have been in Iraq for two and a half years and the Iraqi troop readiness has drooped by two-thirds.
Senators bristled at the disclosure that only one of Iraq's 86 army battalions is ready to fight on its own, including rare blunt criticism from Republicans. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he believes the United States has not had enough troops to fend off insurgents permanently.
GOI: To me this is the main reason that we have seen so many set-backs in Iraq against a strong insurgency. We did not start with enough troops and now we are "behind the eight ball" and playing "catch up" with training Iraqi troops. Plus, there are various reports that show that Iraqi troop recruits are more difficult to find and maintain. There is a high turn-over ratio.
Democrats are by no means the only leaders on Capital Hill that are concerned about these set-backs. Both Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, Vietnam veteran Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) of Nebraska, Sen Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Christopher Shays (R-C.T.).
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) stated, said she was discouraged by the lack of readiness by the Iraqi security force. She said that it "contributes to a loss of public confidence in how the war is going," and that "it doesn't feel like progress when we hear today that we have only one Iraqi battalion that is fully capable."
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he doubts that U.S. commanders have a clear handle on the nature of the insurgency and noted that the war has been more difficult than he expected.
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