New Iraq military of little help against insurgency

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Iraq's military and security forces, surpassing the 200,000 mark, have performed poorly in the current U.S. campaign against Shi'ite and Sunni insurgents.

Officials said that so far the performance of Iraqi security forces against the Mahdi Army loyal to Iranian-backed Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr has been deemed disappointing. They said in many cases, U.S.-trained Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces fled rather than fought the Shi'ite combatants.

"They have not been a factor and in many ways they remain a hindrance," a U.S. official involved in the development of the Iraqi security forces said.

The United States has tried to use Iraqi troops to help fight the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgencies over the last week. Iraqi police have been deployed in the northern sector of Nasseriya in an effort to regain control after coalition troops dislodged Sadr's forces.

Iraqi police and the ICDC were also deployed to secure government facilities and control traffic in the Sunni-populated city of Ramadi. Officials said the ICDC Ń formed to fight the insurgency war Ń was kept out of combat operations.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the performance of the Iraqi security forces in Faluja has been mixed. He said they have been mostly deployed outside Faluja, regarded as the leading stronghold of the Sunni insurgency.

"They're part of the outer cordon, and perhaps some operations inside," Myers said. "There are other Iraqi forces that are actually conducting operations in Falujah, with our forces. I'm told that's going very well. There are other instances where Iraqi forces have not been as aggressive."

On Wednesday, at least 40 people were killed in a U.S. air attack on a mosque in Faluja in what was termed "Operation Vigilant Resolve." U.S. officials said the mosque was being used by Sunni insurgents for attacks on the coalition.

Iraqi sources said more than 300 people were killed in the fighting in Faluja since Monday. A U.S. military spokesman said on Thursday that the coalition has gained control over 25 percent of Faluja.

Officials said the Iraqi security forces lack confidence because of inadequate training and equipment. They said the United States must revamp procurement procedures to quickly equip and train Iraqi forces.

"There's just too many rules and regulations and laws and procedures that are based on peacetime constraints that impede and slow the progress towards getting Iraqi forces trained and equipped and deployed in ways that are effective," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "They've come a long way from zero up to 200,000 of them, but they're still in the process of being trained and equipped and that will take some time."

A Pentagon report, entitled "Iraqi Status," said the United States has nearly completed its goal of training and deploying 235,000 Iraqi security forces and military troops. The Pentagon report said Iraq's post-Saddam regime has deployed or trained 208,821 troops as of March 29. The Pentagon requirement calls for the deployment of 235,727 people.

The United States has made the greatest progress with the Iraqi border police and regular police. The report said the Iraqi police has already exceeded its target of 75,000 while the border police has processed 8,780 officers out of the required 8,835.

The Iraqi Facilities Protection Service has also exceeded its target of 50,000, the report said. So far, the United States has recruited and trained 73,992 officers to guard vital facilities, such as government buildings and oil facilities.

The shortfalls in the Iraqi security programs included the ICDC. The ICDC has trained or deployed 34,683 out of the required 40,000 officers. The Border Enforcement Department has trained or deployed 9,873 out of a required 16,892 officers. The department was established by the United States to help stem the flow of insurgents and illegal migrants from such countries as Iran and Syria.

The report said the Iraqi Armed Forces showed the least progress among Iraqi forces. So far, the report said, the Iraqi military has trained or deployed 5,649 out of a required 40,000 soldiers. The United States has asserted that the Iraqi military would be completed by October 2004.

On April 2, a new batch of Iraqi Army cadets completed a training course provided by the Jordanian military. The 156 cadets underwent two courses by Jordan while a new batch of cadets arrived in Amman for ątraining.

Copyright © 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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