U.S. military officials said that despite pumping $18 billion into the reconstruction of Iraq, the United States has failed to make a
significant dent in either the Shi'ite or Sunni insurgency.
The officials pointed to the Al Qaida-inspired takeover of several Iraqi cities, including Faluja, Ramadi
and Samara as well as the endurance of the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army in wake
of its month-long showdown with the U.S. military in Najaf.
Ramadi is in the Anbar province near the Syrian border, where nearly 150 U.S. soldiers have
been killed in fighting Sunni insurgents.
Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, deputy chief of U.S. Central Command, said that so
far the U.S.-led military coalition has not accomplished its major goals in
Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Smith said this has included the establishment of a democratic Iraq as
well as the elimination of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
The assessment by the military came as U.S. officials expect the White
House to reduce the American military presence in Iraq in 2005. Currently,
Washington has sought to achieve sufficient stability to enable Iraqi
national elections in January 2005. Officials said the Bush administration
plans to transfer funds allocated for Iraqi reconstruction to the training
and equipping of Iraqi security forces.
Smith told the Egyptian state-owned Al Ahram daily that the United
States has pumped $18 billion into the reconstruction of Iraq. He said this
has included the training and organizing of Iraq's military and security
The general said much of the violence in Iraq, including insurgency
attacks, stemmed from the lack of legitimate employment. He said the United
States would continue to invest to create economic opportunities,
particularly for young Iraqis.
Smith said Israel was not helping the U.S.-led effort in Iraq. He denied
reports that U.S. special forces were training at military bases in Israel.
The general differentiated between the U.S. military presence in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Smith said the United States would leave Iraq as soon as
possible, but envisioned a much longer stay in Afghanistan. He cited
Iraq's modern orientation and energy resources.
Smith's assessment appeared to echo that of his superiors, including
Central Command chief Maj. Gen. John Castellaw. Castellaw acknowledged the
slow pace of the U.S.-led effort to stabilize Iraq.
"It never goes as fast as you want to go, but we continue to have
successes," Castellaw told a briefing in the Qatari capital of Doha on Aug.
31. "Though we like to run sprints, in the case of Iraq, Afghanistan and
other places that we have been, we know that it takes a while to accomplish
At the same time, Castellaw refused to disclose a timetable for the
withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He suggested the success of the Iraqi
elections would comprise the key to any decision for a coalition withdrawal.
"We want it to be sooner rather than later," Castellaw said. "And we
don't want to come up with some date as we are following an event driven
Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the
Sunni Triangle ø the area north and west of Baghdad ø has remained a major
challenge to the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi government. At the same
time, Myers told an audience in Nashville, Tenn. on Aug. 31 that the
long-term prospect in Iraq "is very, very good."