Sunday, March 30, 2008

Such An Awesome War

Nobody could have predicted...

Iraq's new army is "developing steadily," with "strong Iraqi leaders out front," the chief U.S. trainer said.

That was three-plus years ago, and the trainer was David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq. Some of those Iraqi officials at the time were busy embezzling more than $1 billion allotted for the new army's weapons, according to investigators.


Nationwide security: In the latest shift, the Pentagon's new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when local units will take over security responsibility for Iraq. Last year's reports had forecast a transition in 2008.

Bush's prediction: In January 2007, President Bush said Iraqi forces would take charge in all 18 Iraqi provinces by November. Four months past that deadline, they control nine provinces and none of the most volatile ones.

Cost: At least $22 billion has been spent to train an Iraqi military with narrow capabilities, critics and outside experts say.

Pentagon's view: Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the current trainer, said his team has made "huge progress in many areas, quality and quantity." Still, "we're not free of difficulties," he said, citing as an example a critical shortage of midlevel Iraqi officers that will take years to close.

Iraqi view: Dubik says Iraqi defense officials don't expect to take over internal security until as late as 2012 and won't be able to defend Iraq's borders until 2018.