Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lawmakers Criticize Training And Deployment of Iraqi Forces - Report Casts Doubt on Ability to Replace U.S. Troops


....Yesterday's criticisms were expanded upon in the latest study by Anthony H. Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A Pentagon official in the Reagan administration and a specialist in Middle East intelligence and military matters, Cordesman just returned from Iraq, where he received briefings from military and civilian officials.

One of Cordesman's central issues is that public statements by the Defense Department "severely distorted the true nature of Iraqi force development in ways that grossly exaggerate Iraqi readiness and capability to assume security tasks and replace U.S. forces." He also writes that "U.S. official reporting is so misleading that there is no way to determine just how serious the problem is and what resources will be required."

Cordesman says the Pentagon's Aug. 31 status report, which was sent to Congress, lists 312,400 men "trained and equipped" among the Iraqi army and national and regular police. But it adds that "no one knows how many . . . are actually still in service." At the same time, he writes, "all unclassified reporting on unit effectiveness has been cancelled."

Criticizing statements about how many Iraqi army units are "in the lead," Cordesman notes that the Iraqi army "lacks armor, heavy firepower, tactical mobility and an Iraqi Air Force capable of providing combat support" -- the same points McCaffrey made yesterday.

"No administration official has presented any plan to properly equip the Iraqi forces to stand on their own or give them the necessary funding to phase out U.S. combat and air support in 12 to 18 months," Cordesman says. He writes that the Iraqi army could need U.S. support through 2010....

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