Cordesman said the Iraqi police has been progressing at a much slower
pace than the army. He said he could not predict when the police could
assume full responsibility, even with embedded U.S. trainers.
"It will be at least several years," Cordesman said on May 16.
Entitled "Iraqi Force Development and the Challenge of Civil War," the
report said progress in the Iraqi security forces would depend on the
Baghdad government's effort to reconcile the rival Sunni and Shi'ite
communities. CSIS said the United States must develop long-term plans with
the Iraqi government to create fully independent forces that "can defend
Iraq against outside powers as well as deal with internal threats."
"Iraq must establish both effective governance and a rule of law," the
report said, "not simply deploy effective military, security, and police
forces. Legitimacy does not consist of determining how governments are
chosen, but in how well they serve the day-to-day needs of their peoples.
Security cannot come through force alone."
The report said a large number of the 320,000 Iraqis recruited into the
military and security forces have left. The U.S. military has determined
that 50,000 of the troops were killed or wounded while another 33,000
deserted, Cordesman said.
CSIS assessed that up to 50 percent of the Iraqi police have deserted or
do not report to work. The report cited "phantom" police units and cited the
U.S. Defense Department's failure to gauge the extent of the problem.
Iraqi units reported as leading combat operations remain heavily
dependent on U.S. officers, the report said. CSIS said these units could
operate only under the leadership of embedded U.S. advisers or in
cooperation with partner units.
The U.S. military has reported that five Iraq Army divisions, 25
brigades, 85 battalions and two national police battalions assumed lead
responsibility by August 2006. In contrast, outside experts asserted in
November 2006 that as few as 10 battalions could be deemed effective.
"Moreover, 'fully independent' is almost meaningless if the units cannot
engage in any form of demanding combat operation without support from U.S.
airpower, artillery, and/or logistics; if they lack the armor to operate in
demanding missions; and require emergency back up from coalition forces if
anything goes wrong," the report said. "Even the best forces cannot use
weapons they do not have, or perform missions for which they are not
The report cited "positive trends" in the Iraq Army and asserted that
some units fight well and perform important security roles with U.S.
support. At the same time, the Pentagon has stopped releasing data on Iraqi
army, police, and Border Enforcement readiness and manning levels.
"The unclassified U.S. government and MNF-I [Multi-National Force-Iraq]
public affairs reporting on the ISF exaggerates progress, ignores or
understates real-world problems, and promises unrealistic timelines," the
report said. "Much of the media reporting, however, focuses on the cases
where Iraqi forces fail -- often in cases where they come under the greatest
stress and where new units have not yet had time to gain experience and
'shake out' their leadership and personnel."