"There's not enough of them," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the
U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said. "So I believe the Iraqi government
has got to work to create more Iraqi security forces."
On Monday, at least 12 people were killed when suicide bombers blew
themselves up in a downtown Baghdad hotel during the counter-insurgency
campaign. The bombing took place during a gathering of Sunni and Shi'ite
tribal leaders, four of whom were killed.
"This sends a terrible message about the situation," Ahmed Chalabi, a
senior Iraqi official, said. "We are now four months into the Baghdad
security plan, and if the terrorists can penetrate such a place in Baghdad
it is not very encouraging."
Officials said the U.S. operation in Baqubah highlighted the inability
of Iraqi security forces as well as the shortage of U.S. troops. They said
the U.S. Army controls about 60 percent of western Baqubah.
"The challenge now is, how do you hold onto the terrain you've cleared?"
Bednarek asked. "You have to do that shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi
security forces. And they're not quite up to the job yet."
The U.S. military has found a huge Al Qaida infrastructure in Baqubah
during Operation Arrowhead Ripper. The Al Qaida network included scores of
strongholds, including a house used for execution.
"Soldiers searching the house found five bodies buried in the yard
behind the building and bloody clothes in several rooms inside it," a
military statement said.
At this point, U.S. commanders said it could take months before Iraqi
security forces would be capable of ensuring that Baqubah was free of Al
Qaida insurgents. They said the military hoped that such capability could be
achieved in 2008.
"We cannot be in a hurry to withdraw our coalition forces from Diyala
province, as an example," Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the
day-to-day training program of Iraqi forces, said.
The U.S. military plans to expand the Iraq Army by at least 20,000
troops to enable the redeployment of American combat units. But officials,
citing the huge absentee rate, said another 100,000 Iraqi soldiers would be
On Monday, 17 Iraqi police were killed and 14 others were injured in a
coordinated Al Qaida strike on a joint security station in Beiji. The attack
began with a car bombing of the police barracks followed by a
rocket-propelled grenade strike by at least 30 insurgents.
"This is a setback, but nothing more than that," said Lt. Col. Scott
Harris, commander of the airborne battalion, whose forces established the
JSS and work with Iraqi police.