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U.S. military says training of Iraqis slowed by shortages

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The U.S. military commanders said the pace of training and equipping of Iraqi military and security forces has been hampered by a shortage of U.S. manpower and funds. They said the military has asked the Defense Department to order changes in the method of funding and in the responsibility for the training of Iraqi troops.

So far, the U.S. military has been responsible for the formation and training of an Iraqi military, police and Civil Defense Corps and border guards, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the aim is to deploy 200,000 during 2004.

"The Iraqi forces have gone from zero on May 1st up to over 100,000 today," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "And our plan calls for them to go to something in excess of 200,000. So the total number of security forces in the country has been going up steadily."

But the effort has been hampered by insufficient U.S. resources.

Officials acknowledge that ordered equipment has been delayed and U.S. forces are overstretched to conduct both training and operations.

"I think our throughput is not quite as great as I would like, and that really gets down to the fact that we have to conduct several different missions in terms of our normal day-to-day missions as well as training," Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, said. "So, the one thing I would ask for is some assistance in conducting this training; maybe get some civilian leadership, for example, in the police have expertise in training police forces, and have them come over and assist us."

Officials said the Coalition Provision Authority, responsible for the reconstruction of Iraq, hopes the money for training and equipment will be allocated in 2004 after Congress approves an $87 billion supplemental budget for Iraq. The bill has raised questions, particularly by House and Senate Democrats.

The U.S. Army has used different units to train each of the four Iraqi security forces. The army's cavalry squadron has been training Iraqi border guards. The army's military police has been training the Iraqi police. The infantry has been traiing the civil defense corps and military.

The Iraqi security forces have failed to obtain much of their ordered equipment. They include military and police vehicles, communications and other systems.

"The funding is here," Odierno said. "I believe it's a matter of getting it executed down to us so we can get the equipment to the police force. And it's a matter of so they can become really more capable within the cities of having cars with communications equipment in it. And so we're waiting to get that allocation of money so we can go ahead and purchase that equipment."

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