Shaping Up The Iraqi Forces

Shaping Up The Iraqi Forces
December 11th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Shaping Up The Iraqi Forces

Shaping Up The Iraqi Forces
U.S. News & World Report
December 18, 2006

U.S. News Pentagon Correspondent Anna Mulrine recently spoke with Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the senior American commander in Iraq responsible for training and equipping Iraqi security forces. Excerpts from their discussion:
On dealing with militia infiltration in the Ministry of Interior: Obedience is extraordinarily important in their value system, far more important than [in] ours. So we've got to get at the leaders. Secondly, militias exist when in the eyes of the people the standing government isn't providing something--and in this case that something would be security. So we've got to continue to demonstrate to the people by accelerated transition to legitimate Iraqi security force control--because the more the Iraqi government can be seen as being in charge, the more the people will gain confidence in them, and the better off we'll be in terms of dealing with the militias.
On more U.S. forces for Baghdad: It seems to me that we have to watch the balance point there. If we get too many in here and we're perceived as completely owning the problem, then it will retard the development of the legitimate security forces, No. 1. And No. 2, what Iraqi security forces are probably most in need of in their developmental evolution is logistics capability. And to the extent that we bring more U.S. forces in here that draw on our logistics expertise to help ourselves, the less that logistics expertise can be used to help the Iraqi security forces. So I tend to be of the school that what we really need is more Iraqi forces and an increasing capability on their part.
On the precariousness of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: The contacts I've had with the prime minister indicate that he's very much in control of his government. But let me sharpen my language a bit there. There's no question in the way this government was formed--where cabinet ministries were negotiated as part of the outcome of the popular vote--that Prime Minister Maliki has had some challenges pulling together a government that could follow a single agenda. And I think those problems persist, but I think he's prevailing, and I think we owe him our support.
On whether Iraq is in a civil war: As long as the legit security forces remain intact and act in a coherent, responsible way for the betterment of all Iraqis, then I'm not prepared to declare that we've got a civil war on our hands. If the legitimate security forces fragment, polarize, and take sides, then I think we have a problem.
On a phased withdrawal: They're not going to handle their external security for some time. But we should not abandon them until they're ready to handle their internal security. And then if you want to call that a conditions-based withdrawal, phased, find your own adjectives--but it should be when we've done what we've promised them we're going to do.

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