BAGHDAD ø The United States has maintained its program to increase the
size of Iraq's security forces, despite their failure in the Shi'ite revolt.
U.S. officials said the training and deployment of Iraqi security forces
and military continue to remain Washington's priorities. The officials said
the Defense Department prefers to deploy ill-trained security officers
rather than leave areas of Iraq lawless.
"The priority has been on the recruitment of the size that's necessary
in order to have the sort of front-line resources that we need and to have
the intelligence gathering that we need," Coalition Provisional Authority
senior adviser Dan Senor said. "We want to move into a mode here where the
Iraqis are increasingly playing the enforcer role and the coalition is
playing the reinforcer role, and you can't have that unless you have the
requisite number of individuals recruited, trained and deployed."
Officials have acknowledged the failure to properly equip Iraqi security
forces with modern systems, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the Iraqi forces lack armor, vehicles
communications systems, which have hampered Iraqi operations and protection.
Senor said the focus of the U.S. military in Iraq was to recruit, train
and deploy Iraqi forces. Further down on the list of priorities was the
of Iraqi troops.
"We believe they have the resources that they need," Senor said. "But
we also recognize there's room for improvement, and we are constantly
improving the situation."
"Our job is to make sure we have the right force posture with our
coalition partners, that we have the right relationships with Iraqi security
forces," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said on Thursday. "And when I say Iraqi security forces, to me that we have
continued to build up the equipping of the Iraqi security forces, that we
continue to train Iraqi security forces."
At this point, officials said, equipment allocated to the Iraqi security
was not expected to arrive in significant quantities before September 2004.
the Shi'ite revolt in Iraq has not led to an acceleration of deliveries.
In an address to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and
International Studies on Thursday, Sen. Joseph Biden, the ranking Democrat
on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said U.S. officials had warned
the Bush administration in the summer of 2003 that the training and
equipping of an Iraqi police force of 75,000 would take five years. He said
the training and equipping of an Iraqi army of 40,000 would require three
"But the administration insisted on putting 200,000 Iraqis in uniform
right away," Biden said. "We rushed people out the door. Now, fewer than 10
percent of the police and army have been fully trained. Virtually none are
adequately equipped. While many have acted with incredible bravery, others
abandoned their posts and some even took up arms against us."
The failure to equip Iraqi security forces has also angered Iraqi
officials. So far, several Iraqi ministers have threatened to quit in
connection with U.S. security policy. One of those who quit was Defense
Minister Iyad Alawi, appointed to the post last week.
"We have failed in the contracting process to provide them with the
equipment they need, the communications, the
transportation, the weapons, and the protection," Anthony Cordesman, a
former Pentagon official and CSIS senior fellow, said. "And there is at this
point in time no date certain at which we will solve those problems. In many
cases the contracting effort is not yet underway."