Trained and Ready?

In testimony before Congress yesterday, Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik became the latest general to stake his reputation and integrity on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces. He expressed an optimistic view that the Iraqis would be ready to lead the fight for Iraq in as little as 12 to 18 months. From today's Post:

Asked when Iraqi ground forces could handle security so U.S. troops would not have to, Lt. Gen. James Dubik told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the strength of Iraq's ground forces had grown significantly. "The ground forces will mostly be done by middle of next year; their divisions, brigades and battalions are on a good timeline," Dubik said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "Could be as early as April. Could be as late as August," said Dubik, who until last week led the effort to train Iraqi forces.

While U.S. commanders' predictions on Iraqi security forces have proven excessively optimistic in the past, the general's assessment is central to the debates in Washington and Baghdad over a timeline for when Iraqi forces can take charge of security, allowing the bulk of the approximately 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to withdraw.

According to the Post, Dubik added more detail to fill in the picture:

Gauging the progress of Iraq's security forces, Dubik said they have increased in size and proficiency, growing from 444,000 in June 2007 to 566,000 in May, and leading operations since April in urban centers such as the southern city of Basra and Baghdad's Sadr City. Readiness of Iraqi units has improved as they fill key leadership gaps, with units having on average near 70 percent of their leaders compared to "well below" 50 percent a year ago, he said.

Iraqis are "handling much of their security today," Dubik said, noting that nine of 18 Iraqi provinces are under Iraqi government control, with little involvement of U.S. troops. "That movement toward their responsibility will continue," he said. Of the more than 140 Iraqi battalions, he said 12 are capable of independent operations and rated at the highest level of readiness, while 90 others are rated at the second highest level and are "fighting well."

As a result, the U.S. military effort is shifting from combat to providing intelligence, air power, command and control, artillery and other support that will likely be needed long after its combat role diminishes. Dubik estimated it may take until 2012 to develop the Iraqi air force and navy and establish border security.

Still, Dubik said challenges remain with Iraqi forces, pointing to a "basic" level of training, shortages in leaders and professionalism, and "pockets of sectarian behavior in both the police and military."

"It will take more time to flush that out of the system because of the horrific sectarian violence" of late 2006 and early 2007, he said.

Sounds great. Unfortunately, it's terribly incomplete.

First, it's important to note the forces he's not talking about -- namely, the local Iraqi police, the Iraqi national police, and all of the Iraqi government institutions responsible for supporting the security forces. Those are still in dreadful condition, notwithstanding the steady improvement helped by the infusion of American advisers and support. Ideally, it is these forces, and not the Iraqi Army, who will patrol the streets of Iraq and keep its people secure. That Dubik devoted so much of his attention to the Iraqi Army is telling -- and a sign that we have a long way to go.

Second, Dubik's testimony suffers from the same defect as the earlier estimates provided by generals in his position. So much of his evaluation is based on the hard measures of readiness -- manning, number of trucks and weapons on hand, number of troops who have been through training, and so on. Those numbers are important, but they don't tell the whole story.

It's equally important to consider subjective measures of readiness, like the evaluations submitted by each Iraqi unit's adviser team. Those reports indicate that only 12 of 140 Iraqi Army battalions are operating at their top level of readiness. (Again, only the Army seems to be counted.) Many of those units are operating in uncontested areas, like Kurdistan. Dubik reports that units with sub-par readiness suffer from gaps in their support capabilities, like an absence of logistics capability. But there's also more to it than that, which is why 128 of 140 Iraqi battalions are still not operating at peak readiness.

So how long will it take to stand up the Iraqi security forces?

When I came home from Iraq, I thought it would take at least five to ten more years of sustained advisory assistance to build the Iraqi police force. I still think that's right. The Iraqi Army is further ahead, largely because that's been the main effort for the American military. But if our only legacy in Iraq is the Iraqi Army, we will not leave a stable and secure Iraq in our wake -- let alone a democracy dedicated to the rule of law.

I understand Dubik's optimism, but he's leaning a bit too far forward in his foxhole on this one. Our experience with the Iraqi security forces dictates a bit more caution.

By Phillip Carter |  July 10, 2008; 8:48 AM ET  | Category:  Iraq
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

"But if our only legacy in Iraq is the Iraqi Army, we will not leave a stable and secure Iraq in our wake -- let alone a democracy dedicated to the rule of law."

At this point I find it rather sad that any analyst of the Iraq situation can still think we have the power to do this in Iraq. 25% of the population has left the country or is "displaced". The Sunni educated middle class no longer exists. 40% of the children are malnourished. Every family has suffered loses. We have destroyed Iraqi society.

As Johnson said in another context " how the drivers of slaves bleat about liberty"

Posted by: Pendragon | July 10, 2008 11:25 AM

I feel this analysis of the current situation is correct but I would go further and add more.

I believe there are several other factors that are hindering Iraq from taking control of its own security and allowing the Americans to leave in relative peace.

To begin with there's al-Sadr. His militia is just waiting for the word. Muqtada is constantly flexing his muscles by allowing his militia to combat American forces from time to time. Then, the Americans and Iraqi politicians plead for a cease fire and he agrees for six months and then it just happens again. Each time he does this, sectarian violence and American deaths rise. So, this is one part of the false security that people are claiming in Iraq.

The Awakening is another big problem. The Sunni tribes are aligning themselves with the Americans because we are paying them. Due to the high rate of unemployment, before we were paying them, all they had to look forward to was al-Qaeda to provide some form of employment. By the American forces providing a form of employment by bribing the Sunni tribes, they were able to defeat al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts. However, once we decide to stop paying them off, what happens? Especially if the high rate of unemployment continues? With no jobs to go back to, they have no other place to vent their frustration other than on the current Iraqi administration (Shiite dominated) and Americans. So, we will be back at square one with Sunni and Shiites killing each other and both sides killing us. This is another false sense of security that is being touted.

And finally, there's the lack of political progress. With very little progress being made and with very little compromises being had between the three main sects, the Iraqi government is moving nowhere. And, because it isn't going anywhere, the people of Iraq are frustrated and it is hampering the fragile progress we are making in Iraq. I would venture to say that the lack of political progress is probably the most important issue facing the security situation in Iraq.

These three factors are what I believe to be the main reasons why the situation in Iraq has not improved much more than it already has. And the progress it has made in security is fragile at best. All it is providing is a false sense of security until the next hiccup comes along.

Posted by: Jarhead | July 10, 2008 1:22 PM

How do we hold the General accountable for his estimate? In a measurable way? Can he be held financially liable for the losses in blood and treasure over the time line to his horizon? Can he even be held financially accountable for the verasity of his testimony or his methodology? SarbanesOxley like? Even plebe year West Point honor code standards or boot camp competence?

Except to a war profiteer, his integrity or reputation have no material value.

Posted by: Bill Keller | July 10, 2008 1:35 PM

'I swear Charlie, this time I won't pull the football away when you go to kick it...I swear'

Posted by: jonst | July 10, 2008 4:23 PM

i just want to know about reason and help u through nepal .
mjbs is the unity of youth power belongs to the revolution
i hope u will help me

Posted by: bibek "mjbs" | July 11, 2008 12:41 AM

9:41 AM Friday World A'Hoy,Intels;

when Iraqi ground forces could handle security appropo for here;I start my U.S. Intel Dump directed 'Jour Gems'presentation'with:

Iraq indivisible (Top News @new Al-Ahram)

Fifty years on, the 14 July revolution still evokes among Iraqis the virtues of patriotism and unity, writes Salah Hemeid

Fifty years after the Iraqi army toppled the pro-West monarchy on 14 July 1958, Iraqis who live in their now terror- stricken nation are too preoccupied with survival to celebrate what many of them esteem as a revolution of national liberation against the colonial power of the time, Great Britain.

The episode is not forgotten, however. If there is a lesson to be drawn, especially by Iraq's new rulers, it is that winning public support and confidence cannot be substituted for dependency on foreign occupiers and their protection. On the other hand, the anniversary raises questions about how much US colonial officials know Iraq's history and the memory Iraqis still have of their former occupiers.

Mid-segment:One of the most daunting challenges Iraqis face now is the strategic agreement that the Bush administration and Nuri Al-Maliki's government are negotiating that would allow for a long-term presence of the American forces in Iraq. Regardless of controversy over the nature and terms of the agreement, the two governments have been committed to establish an "enduring relationship" under a November 2007 US-Iraqi "Declaration of Principles" President George W Bush and Al-Maliki signed.

Indeed, one cannot miss the alarming parallel between the proposed pact between the United States and Iraq and the failed treaty that the British government tried to impose on Iraq in 1948 and that prompted a nationalist uprising in Baghdad, which many regarded as the trail run of the revolution that toppled the monarchy a decade later.

Obviously the deals that Iraq announced last month with three major American oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, to develop some of its largest fields will affirm suspicions that Iraqi oil was the point of war, especially with the disclosure that US government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting contracts. With its proven 112 billion barrel oil reserve, the second largest in the world, along with roughly 220 billion barrels of probable and possible resources, Iraq's oil seems destined -- if foreign colonial powers get their way -- to be under foreign control, some 34 years after its nationalisation.

Ending:There is nothing more important now than reviving that spirit of patriotism and freedom of the 14 July revolution by which united Iraqis can reshape their destiny in an independent, democratic, strong and modern state. If US occupiers are oblivious to these Iraqi ideals, and certainly they are, the question is why the ruling clique of local puppets is so inept at gauging the anti-occupation and anti-sectarian mood of the people.

Don't turn away,as I E@World adjust,for more.As I browsed,early this West Jerusalem morning @my local Central Bus Station bookstore.

No Next E-luck;Fellas;

'Time(s) to act' Israel & the U.S. have similar but not identical timelines when it comes to Iran.And every day that goes by means these timelines are less in sync

WASHINGTON AFFAIRS By Hilary Leila Krieger

In today's JPost hard paper Section 2,does not yet show

But a real Treat,specifically for here,sure E-does!

Editor's Notes: No repeat of Osirak

Read of the near loop de loop @500 mph,that could well have crashed into oblivion;

A clear wake up kick for your Intel mind.

Whoa;It's now 10:08,this library closes @12:30;& I haven't yet begun,my directed free E-printing.

I'll leave you now,toward's Rise & Shine Wakeup;

But Alas;lest I forget;

The end of the American century

By Ari Shavit

ASPEN, Colorado - It's hard to think of a happier place than Aspen. The tiny mountain city in western Colorado is not only a place of breathtaking beauty, it is a place of inconceivable abundance. The town of wooden houses that was built as a mining town in the late 19th century turned into a town of wealth and well-being in the late 20th century. The wealthy of New York and Chicago come to Aspen to ski in the snows of December and January, and the tycoons come to vacation in the lovely hills of July and August.

Aspen is the place where the new American capitalism celebrates itself with restraint and elegance. No more gritty robber-baron capitalism, but a refined capitalism of environmental awareness, art collecting and outdoor concerts.

And yet even in Aspen, the Fourth of July this year differed from any previous Fourth of July. Although there were barbecues on the lawns, fireworks in the evening against the snow that remains on the mountaintops, there was an unpleasant silence in the air. A silence of restrained anxiety. A silence of an empire that has lost its way, of a superpower that is no longer certain of its supremacy.

Another Stagering problem for America;
as I correctly characterise,is our leading;

The DARK SIDE for Humanity!

Stemming largely from Neo Con Arrogance,as they sat around Washington,in early 2000's,at their height;Plotting out the future America,they aimed to see.

Emphasizing two key criteria;

'Come What May,the Affluent Must be INSURED of Showing Off in their transport'


'Lay Off 'Mighty Israel'& assist it in all U.S. ways possible'

Hence;Stick@Iraq our cherished serving son's & daughters in real Death,Lifelong Brain Impairment & Capture Harms way

To Endure & Us Emerge as a Great Guzzling Gas Station Attendant.


DARK SIDE formative factors Converge to Seduce out Oval Office handed U.S. Letter on April 14,2004.As was overwhellmingly Ratified by both Houses of Congree,that June.

Phone me @International access 972,or Israel 0,then 50-5425235,for;

Confidential & @No Obligation;

My $15 Introductory,uws Jerusalem departing weekday noon 'self escorted' tour.

You'll View the Edge.Of the Israeli development plans announced Match.

Ignition,after completion,could naturally result in the,effective,extermination of Middle East warm-blooded Life,in 12 hours,or less.As per the WMD ping pong Match likely to ensue.

In No Way Blockable by our U.S. April 14,2004 Letter,DARK SIDE swerved U.S. Israel Policy!

You'll learn of my U.S. Triumphant PRIORITY 1 LIFE Middle East Life Redemption Plan;

Calling for a Revocation of the April 14,2004 DARK SIDE swerve to U.S. Israel Policy as overwhellmingly Ratified by both Houses of Congress,that June.

Followed by a major Westward redeployment for key Elements of our cherished U.S. Power to;

Virtually Non-Lethally,Oversee;A long Overdue;

Compliance Enforcemement Regemin,as per U.S. State Departmen 2/5ths of a Century Demands,of my Israel;against Settlements.Starting with Freezing their Expansion.Always answered Defiantly!

Ushering in the U.S. Triumphant LIFE LIGHT SIDE

U.S. Forces Worldwide,again known,as'The Good Guys'

U.S. granted preeminent Respect,Regard & Security;both National & for Americans worldwide

Recognized as LIFE's leader towards LIBERTY & The PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS,into the uncertain future ahead

The George W. Bush U.S. presidency renowned in Humanity history

Secretary Rice's tenure vindicated

Israel gaining realistic hope;to Live,to See 2020.An All-American achievement!

To Life!=לחיים.Pronounced Le Chaim.

Michael of the upper West side.

Originally Manhatan.

Now Jerusalem.

שבת שלום=Sabbath Peace;to All!


Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem | July 11, 2008 3:52 AM

Uri Avneri's piece shows how US@Humanity LIFE,LIBERTY & HAPPINESS PURSUIT my PRI 1 LIFE ME Life Redemption Is;Before Attack Iran HITS THE FAN!

Posted 7/13/2008 3:48 PM CDT on
Uri Avnery


Why Not?

IF YOU want to understand the policy of a country, look at the map - as Napoleon recommended.

Anyone who wants to guess whether Israel and/or the United States are going to attack Iran should look at the map of the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.

Through this narrow waterway, only 34 km wide, pass the ships that carry between a fifth and a third of the world's oil, including that from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

MOST OF the commentators who talk about the inevitable American and Israeli attack on Iran do not take account of this map.

There is talk about a "sterile", a "surgical" air strike. The mighty air fleet of the United States will take off from the aircraft carriers already stationed in the Persian Gulf and the American air bases dispersed throughout the region and bomb all the nuclear sites of Iran - and on this happy occasion also bomb government institutions, army installations, industrial centers and anything else they might fancy. They will use bombs that can penetrate deep into the ground.

Simple, quick and elegant - one blow and bye-bye Iran, bye-bye ayatollahs, bye-bye Ahmadinejad.

If Israel attacks alone, the blow will be more modest. The most the attackers can hope for is the destruction of the main nuclear sites and a safe return.

I have a modest request: before you start, please look at the map once more, at the Strait named (probably) after the god of Zarathustra.

THE INEVITABLE reaction to the bombing of Iran will be the blocking of this Strait. That should have been self-evident even without the explicit declaration by one of Iran's highest ranking generals a few days ago.

Iran dominates the whole length of the Strait. They can seal it hermetically with their missiles and artillery, both land based and naval.

If that happens, the price of oil will skyrocket - far beyond the 200 dollars-per-barrel that pessimists dread now. That will cause a chain reaction: a world-wide depression, the collapse of whole industries and a catastrophic rise in unemployment in America, Europe and Japan.

In order to avert this danger, the Americans would need to conquer parts of Iran - perhaps the whole of this large country. The US does not have at its disposal even a small part of the forces they would need. Practically all their land forces are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The mighty American navy is menacing Iran - but the moment the Strait is closed, it will itself resemble those model ships in bottles. Perhaps it is this danger that made the navy chiefs extricate the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln from the Persian Gulf this week, ostensibly because of the situation in Pakistan.

This leaves the possibility that the US will act by proxy. Israel will attack, and this will not officially involve the US, which will deny any responsibility.

Indeed? Iran has already announced that it would consider an Israeli attack as an American operation, and act as if it had been directly attacked by the US. That is logical.


Late segment:

All this indicates that by itself, the idea of an Israeli military intervention in Iran is not so revolutionary. But a prior condition is close cooperation with the US. This will not be forthcoming, because the US would be the primary victim of the consequences.

IRAN IS now a regional power. It makes no sense to deny that.

The irony of the matter is that for this they must thank their foremost benefactor in recent times: George W. Bush. If they had even a modicum of gratitude, they would erect a statue to him in Tehran's central square.

For many generations, Iraq was the gatekeeper of the Arab region. It was the wall of the Arab world against the Persian Shiites. It should be remembered that during the Iraqi-Iranian war, Arab Shiite Iraqis fought with great enthusiasm against Persian Shiite Iranians.

When President Bush invaded Iraq and destroyed it, he opened the whole region to the growing might of Iran. In future generations, historians will wonder about this action, which deserves a chapter to itself in "The March of Folly".

Today it is already clear that the real American aim (as I have asserted in this column right from the beginning) was to take possession of the Caspian Sea/Persian Gulf oil region and station a permanent American garrison at its center. This aim was indeed achieved - the Americans are now talking about their forces remaining in Iraq "for a hundred years", and they are now busily engaged in dividing Iraq's huge oil reserves among the four or five giant American oil companies.

But this war was started without wider strategic thinking and without looking at the geopolitical map. It was not decided who is the main enemy of the US in the region, neither was it clear where the main effort should be. The advantage of dominating Iraq may well be outweighed by the rise of Iran as a nuclear, military and political power that will overshadow America's allies in the Arab world.

WHERE DO we Israelis stand in this game?

For years now, we have been bombarded by a propaganda campaign that depicts the Iranian nuclear effort as an existential threat to Israel. Forget the Palestinians, forget Hamas and Hizbullah, forget Syria - the sole danger that threatens the very existence of the State of Israel is the Iranian nuclear bomb.

I repeat what I have said before: I am not prey to this existential Angst. True, life is more pleasant without an Iranian nuclear bomb, and Ahmadinejad is not very nice either. But if the worst comes to the worst, we will have a "balance of terror" between the two nations, much like the American-Soviet balance of terror that saved mankind from World War III, or the Indian-Pakistani balance of terror that provides a framework for a rapprochement between those two countries that hate each other's guts.

ON THE basis of all these considerations, I dare to predict that there will be no military attack on Iran this year - not by the Americans, not by the Israelis.


President Bush is about to end his career in disgrace. The same fate is waiting impatiently for Ehud Olmert. For politicians of this kind, it is easy to be tempted by a last adventure, a last chance for a decent place in history after all.

All the same, I stick to my prognosis: it will not happen.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 14, 2008 3:14 AM

Sadr's militia may live to fight again

By Patrick Co.kburn in Baghdad
Monday, 14 July 2008


An Iraqi man is given water after US soldiers searched his home and detained him in Sadr City


All over Baghdad and southern Iraq, supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shia cleric, are harassed, on the run or in jail. The black-shirted gunmen of his Mehdi Army militia no longer rule in Shia parts of Baghdad, Basra and Amara where once their control was total.

A great survivor of Iraqi politics, Mr Sadr is living in the Iranian holy city of Qom, where he is studying to elevate his position within the Shia religious hierarchy. It was from there, to the dismay of many followers, that he ordered his Mehdi Army fighters to go home and allow the Iraqi army to penetrate their strongholds.

"Muqtada has acute political instincts but he is a terrible organiser," said an Iraqi secular politician who knows him well. "He is a complete anarchist," he added, with a laugh. "But the government is not going to succeed in destroying his movement, though his prestige has been damaged."

Mr Sadr owes his authority to the reverence with which his family of Shia clerics is regarded by millions of poor Iraqis. This is because his father and two brothers were murdered by Saddam Hussein's gunmen in 1999 and his father-in-law was executed in 1980. Before his father died, he built a movement based on Islamic revivalism, Iraqi nationalism and social populism, which Mr Sadr has inherited.

The Iraqi government is doing its best to liquidate orcripple this Sadrist movement before the provincial elections in October. An American military intelligence assessment this year suggested that Mr Sadr's followers would win 60 per cent of the vote in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

They are unlikely to do so now. Though the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged to Mr Sadr, when he ordered his gunmen off the streets, that it would not persecute his movement, anybody who belonged to the Mehdi Army in Sadr City is liable to arrest. In Basra, shops that used to sell CDs with songs in praise of Mr Sadr now sell gypsy music and have been told by soldiers to throw their old stock away.

Many Mehdi Army members blame Mr Sadr for letting them down when his men were holding their own. They also wonder why he did not set up monitoring committees to ensure the government implemented the terms of the ceasefires.


The Iraqi army by itself was getting nowhere in Basra and Sadr City before it was backed by the US military. Even in Amara today, there is a US battalion waiting to support Iraqi military forces. Nobody knows how the mainly Shia, 500,000-strong Iraqi security forces would respond if ordered to fight a resurgent Mehdi Army without US support.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 14, 2008 5:03 AM

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