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hnumpah

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When?
« on: March 29, 2008, 03:00:25 PM »
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

Iraq's new army is "developing steadily," with "strong Iraqi leaders out front," the chief U.S. trainer assured the American people. That was three-plus years ago, the U.S. Army general was David H. Petraeus, and 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.

The 2004-05 Defense Ministry scandal was just one in an unending series of setbacks in the five-year struggle to "stand up" an Iraqi military and allow hard-pressed U.S. forces to "stand down" from Iraq.

The latest discouraging episode was unfolding this weekend in bloody Basra, the southern city where Iraqi government forces ? in their toughest test yet ? were still struggling to gain the upper hand in a five-day-old battle with Shiite Muslim militias.

Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, freestanding Iraqi army has seemed always to slip further into the future. In the latest shift, with Petraeus now U.S. commander in Iraq, the Pentagon's new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when homegrown units will take over security responsibility nationwide, after last year's reports had forecast a transition in 2008.

Earlier, in January last year, President Bush said Iraqi forces would take charge in all 18 Iraqi provinces by November 2007. Four months past that deadline, they control only half the 18.

Responsibility for these ever-unfulfilled goals lies in Washington, contends retired Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who preceded Petraeus as chief trainer in Iraq.

"We continue to fail to properly resource and build the very force that will enable a responsible drawdown of our forces," Eaton told The Associated Press.

Retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, a West Point professor and frequent Iraq visitor, also sees insufficient "energy" in the U.S. effort. "Even now, there is no Iraqi air force; there's no national military medical system; there's no maintenance system," he told a New York audience on March 13.

The current chief trainer counters that his Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, known as MNSTC-I, has made "huge progress in many areas, quality and quantity."

"But we're not free of difficulties," Lt. Gen. James Dubik told reporters on March 4.

A look back by the AP, as the Iraq conflict enters its sixth year, finds the $22 billion training effort has been a story of uncertain steps and policy reversals, corruption, questionable numbers and distrust, ending with an Iraqi military with narrow capabilities and years more "standing up" ahead.

The first reversal came even before the 2003 U.S. invasion, when the Pentagon discarded prewar plans that called for restructuring the 400,000-man Saddam Hussein-era army into a postwar force of 150,000 to 200,000.

Instead, U.S. occupation chief L. Paul Bremer ordered the old army disbanded, and the Bush administration opted for a token military force to guard Iraq's borders ? an "afterthought," said Eaton.

"President Bush declared 'mission accomplished' on 1 May, and on 9 May I get a phone call, 'Get thee to Iraq and rebuild the Iraqi army.' I looked at my wife and she said, 'A little late for that.' You would have expected this to be an ongoing program," Eaton recalled.

The makeshift plan envisioned putting one 700-man battalion at a time through a nine-week training course ? a rate that would have produced a mere 8,000 troops over two years.

Eaton persuaded Defense Department officials to raise that target to 40,000 troops by late 2004, but even that was a "patently inadequate force," says Ali Allawi, later Iraq's defense minister.

"Deep suspicions began to be harbored as to the true intentions" of the Americans, Allawi writes in his memoir, "The Occupation of Iraq."

Abdulwahab al-Qassab, a retired Iraqi major general who observed developments from a post at Baghdad University, contends the Americans never wanted to rebuild a solid Iraqi army.

"It wasn't welcomed by the Israelis, the Kurdish factions that used to fight the Iraqi army, and some of the Shiites," al-Qassab said in an interview.

Walter B. Slocombe, who was Bremer's chief defense aide, denied to the AP that Israel's interests influenced U.S. actions, but he and other U.S. officials have acknowledged that the animosity of Iraq's Kurds and Shiites to the old Iraqi army helped shape those early decisions.

As 2003 wore on, Vinnell Corp., the U.S. military contractor hired to do the training, proved unequal to the task. The first Iraqi battalion, graduating in October, quickly fell apart because of desertions, and the second battalion refused to fight against insurgents in Fallujah in April 2004. The Jordanian army, meanwhile, was asked to take over training Iraqi officers.

As of June 2004, when Bremer's occupation authority gave way to a sovereign Iraqi government, the military still numbered only 7,000 men, as the focus shifted to fielding Iraqi police. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, predicted ? incorrectly ? the Iraqis could soon "take local control of the cities."

The evolving training program, now a mixed U.S.-Iraqi effort, was plagued with problems. Petraeus' new MNSTC-I was slow to be staffed. Meanwhile, top Defense Ministry officials, including the minister, Hazem Shaalan, were methodically looting the procurement budget of at least $1.3 billion, Iraqi investigators allege. Shaalan, who denies the accusations, and most of the others left the country by mid-2005.

By then the Pentagon was reporting 60,000 "trained and equipped" Iraqi troops available, a number achieved only by integrating lightly armed national guard units into the army. American commanders "do not report reliable data" on training and equipping Iraqi forces, U.S. government auditors complained. By late 2005, the U.S. command had to acknowledge that only one of 86 Iraqi army battalions was ready to fight on its own.

The Iraqis still were not given artillery, big mortars or other heavy weapons. Iraq's political unpredictability and dangerous sectarian-political divides clearly made the Americans wary that heavy weapons might be turned against them, concludes Arab military analyst Nizar Adul Kader.

"This could have been one of the fears that Americans had to take into consideration," said Kader, a retired Lebanese major general.

Auditors also found that the training command kept such poor records on distribution of personal weapons to Iraqi soldiers that some may have been passed on to insurgents or anti-American militias.

When Sunni-Shiite hostilities exploded into a bloodbath in 2006 ? up to 60 civilian killings a day in Baghdad alone ? it exposed the unreliability of the Iraqi military, some of whose units, paralyzed by desertions and reluctant officers and troops, failed to back up U.S. operations.

The U.S. command's goals for a homegrown takeover of most Iraqi security slipped ? from spring 2006, to late summer, and then beyond. In November 2006, the Pentagon forecast that all 18 provinces would come under Iraqi security control "in 2007."

Reviews in 2007, by a congressionally mandated commission, by Government Accountability Office analysts, by the Pentagon itself, found that Iraq's sectarian animosities had permeated and weakened army units, heavily Shiite and Kurdish. A civil war among Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni factions could shatter the military.

Last November, GAO auditors again sharply questioned Pentagon claims on the number of Iraqi battalions able to operate "independently," since such units often depend on U.S. fuel, ammunition and other supplies, American advisers and intelligence, and U.S. air support.

Desertions persisted. In its latest quarterly report, in early March, the Pentagon says some 197,000 military personnel have now been trained, but that number includes the equivalent of two divisions ? 27,000 men ? estimated to have gone AWOL in 2007. Some 224,000 police are listed as trained, including an unknown number who left their posts.

The Iraqi military's list of unmet needs remains long: artillery and modern armor; advanced communications and intelligence systems; a logistics network able to supply everything from food and fuel to transport and ammunition; combat hospitals; airpower.

"This is not a balanced fighting force," said al-Qassab, the retired Iraqi general. "It's only people armed with assault rifles and pickup trucks and they go and raid like a militia."

The Iraqis and Americans are working to make Iraqi logistics self-sufficient by mid-2009. But as for "fire support," training command spokesman Lt. Col. Dan Williams said, "heavier artillery is still a ways down the road."

Regarding Iraq's tiny air force, a handful of helicopters, old transports and light planes, "in my opinion, we were late to start on this," Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert R. Allardice told the AP last June, as he took over aviation training in Baghdad.

Today, as he leaves the command, Allardice confirms there are still no plans for modern jet fighters for the Iraqis, only small, propeller-driven attack planes.

Chief trainer Dubik, meanwhile, is troubled by a shortage of midlevel Iraqi officers. The Pentagon's March report says this shortage "will take years to close."

It looks like years, not months, will be the measure of progress. After a half-decade of war, 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.

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sirs

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Re: When?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 03:35:54 PM »
When they're done        ::)
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Xavier_Onassis

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Re: When?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2008, 05:10:00 PM »
When they're done        Roll Eyes

===================================
MOre like "when they are done, unless the enormous cost of this colonial adventurism has beggared the economy of the US."


Americans have to ask themselves at this point if Iraq is worth the cost of  $7.00 gasoline, $500,000 homes and $4.00 a loaf bread.

This war is being fought in credit. Interest is being paid to the Chinese. If the plan is to wreck China rather than repay it or pay the modest interest these loans cost, everyone needs to know that this is an unworkable plan, not to mention an unjust one.

The one thing the US has control over that China wants is Taiwan, whose people have finally attained a democracy and a decent standard of living. Will the US be forced to agree to cease arming Taiwan and supporting it just so the huge debt to China that this grotesque war is costing can be paid?

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

sirs

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Re: When?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2008, 05:30:01 PM »
When they're done        Roll Eyes
===================================
MOre like "when they are done, unless the enormous cost of this colonial adventurism has beggared the economy of the US."

Not happening anywhere close to that degree, so I guess that option is out the window.  More so, unless we have a Political leader who has no sane grasp of the threat Islamofascism is to this world, and decides to pull troops and screw the consequences to both the region and the world


"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Xavier_Onassis

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Re: When?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2008, 05:34:03 PM »
MOre like "when they are done, unless the enormous cost of this colonial adventurism has beggared the economy of the US."

Not happening anywhere close to that degree, so I guess that option is out the window.  More so, unless we have a Political leader who has no sane grasp of the threat Islamofascism is to this world, and decides to pull troops and screw the consequences to both the region and the world

===================
No, not happening. Go to the Wal*Mart. Go to the gas station. Try to buy a house. It is happening and it is happening NOW.

Elect McCain and watch it get worse. How many crippled, blind and insane American vets will have to suffer for the rest of their lives, their every cost being paid for out of your taxes before you renounce this insane madness?
"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

sirs

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Re: When?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2008, 06:24:56 PM »
MOre like "when they are done, unless the enormous cost of this colonial adventurism has beggared the economy of the US."

Not happening anywhere close to that degree, so I guess that option is out the window.  More so, unless we have a Political leader who has no sane grasp of the threat Islamofascism is to this world, and decides to pull troops and screw the consequences to both the region and the world

===================
No, not happening. Go to the Wal*Mart. Go to the gas station. Try to buy a house. It is happening and it is happening NOW.

That's called cyclical economic activity. 


Elect McCain and watch it get worse.

OR, elect McCain and get it less worse than Obama & Hillary would have it


How many crippled, blind and insane American vets will have to suffer for the rest of their lives, their every cost being paid for out of your taxes before you renounce this insane madness?

That'd be based on believing it was insane madness to have gone in.  Since I didn't buy that garbage, much like it wasn't insane to have gone into France back in the 40's, I have no need to renounce anything.  How many crippled, blind or killed vets occured on D-Day again??  12,000+ deaths alone, on just 1 day.  Based on those #'s, when are you planning on renouncing that "insane madness"?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 06:46:41 PM by sirs »
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

hnumpah

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Re: When?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2008, 12:43:16 PM »
Quote
When they're done

Right. They've had five years to build an army and get it trained and equipped to take over and be responsible for their own security. We can train our own kids to go to war and be killed in a matter of weeks; we can train our officers in 90 days to 4 years, depending on the route they take; but we can't train an army in five years? Screw 'em; if they're not willing to step up and take over the responsibility now, I doubt they will be in another five years, or another five after that, as long as we keep holding their hands and doing the job for them, while we make excuses for why they're not ready yet.
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Universe Prince

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Re: When?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2008, 12:52:42 PM »

Right. They've had five years to build an army and get it trained and equipped to take over and be responsible for their own security. We can train our own kids to go to war and be killed in a matter of weeks; we can train our officers in 90 days to 4 years, depending on the route they take; but we can't train an army in five years?


The way I understand it, any time you ask when on this issue, the answer is "sometime in the next 12-18 months." Which it to say, 12-18 months ago that was the answer, that is the answer today, and in 12-18 months that will likely still be the answer.
Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
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sirs

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Re: When?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 01:12:34 PM »
Quote
When they're done

Right.

Yea, right.  So, what is the going timetable for achieving a free & democratic society now??  I must have missed that memo.  5 years, and that's it, right?  What timetable did our country adhere to?


"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Christians4LessGvt

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Re: When?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2008, 02:55:55 PM »



National Heroes Tour
'Support the troops - finish their mission'

BY PETER BRONSON

The bumper sticker on the car in front of me says, "Support the Troops - Bring Them Home."

I want one that replies: "Be Careful What You Ask For."

Many of the troops are already home. And they have something to say about that kind of "support."

Some of America's most decorated soldiers have started a national tour, backed by thousands of veterans, to fight for their honor at home just as they fought for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what they have to say:

"The Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour is about supporting our troops, honoring their commitment, and rallying the country to complete the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"At this critical juncture in our country, we need Americans, lawmakers and the media, to fully recognize - and appreciate - the sacrifice of our brave military, and the dramatic success they have achieved, especially in Iraq with the new counterinsurgency strategy."

Spokesman Adam Fife explained that vets came home and just got fed up by "the lack of understanding here."

Fife, who served in Iraq as a civilian aide to Gen. David Petraeus, said, "There are schools, a medical system, grass-roots democracy - lots of really good things happening that you don't hear about."

And everywhere from Tucson to Texas, they've been welcomed with police escorts, flag-waving and big crowds that say thanks. "It's been even more amazing than we expected," Fife said.

Well, almost everywhere. One stop was amazing for all the wrong reasons.

At Forest Lake High School in Minneapolis, where one of the heroes graduated, the Vets for Freedom were told to stay away. Anti-war parents and Democratic Underground activists called to protest, and the principal folded like Origami. He said the visit was "too political."

"Let's not pull any punches. It's humiliating," said David Bellavia, a founder of Vets for Freedom. Army Staff Sergeant Bellavia earned the Bronze Star and Silver Star for valor. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his courage in the battle for Fallujah.

He was good enough to lay down his life for our country - but not good enough for Lake Forest High School.

"It's like telling you that if your dad's a veteran, he can't come to career day to talk about it," Fife said.

Their message is not political. Their web site says they "thank America's men and women who risk their lives by having served ... thank their families; and thank supporters for the conviction and commitment to completing the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq."

But in some corners of America today, that's "too political."

And that's just sad.

These are the soldiers who set free two nations from the dungeons of tyranny and gave them freedom and democracy. They hunted down one of the most horrifying dictators of our times, Saddam Hussein.

Iraqis remember it well. They have their own tour - a traveling museum of grisly pictures and artifacts of the hangings, torture and mass murders by Saddam. The "tribute to martyrs" shows nooses, a torture rack, mass graves and personal items - combs, blood-stained clothing and a rosary, left behind by thousands of victims.

I suppose that's "too political" for some Americans too.

But some anti-war protesters are never "too political." Some of the most radical have insulted wounded veterans, splashed a church with blood on Easter and exploited the 4,000 lives lost in Iraq to clamor anew for surrender and defeat.

But the vets who are coming home don't want their sympathy.

"The media tends to portray soldiers as victims," Fife said. "But 99 percent are proud to have volunteered, and proud that they had the guts to serve their country.""They gave their life not because of a dental plan or college money," Bellavia said in Iowa, "but because they believe that our culture and our way of life are being threatened."

These vets are not homeless vagrants, tower shooters or psycho-killers. They will not be ignored like the veterans of Korea, or demonized like the vets from Vietnam. They are America's very best. They have learned more about leadership, courage and honor in one tour of duty than desk-jockeys like me learn in a lifetime.

And when they come home, they will have something to say about that, too.

"It's a bond that's hard to describe," Fife said. "But that's the way they honor the sacrifice of the soldiers that didn't come home. They want to see the mission completed."

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080330/COL05/803300380/1009/EDIT

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Rich

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Re: When?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2008, 03:38:53 PM »
>>Try to buy a house.<<

No problem.

Hell, I may even be your new neighbor soon X. Wouldn't that be a hoot!

hnumpah

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Re: When?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2008, 12:00:27 AM »
Quote
So, what is the going timetable for achieving a free & democratic society now??  I must have missed that memo.


What you missed is that we stood up and fought for ours ourselves. The side of the equation you missed when you whined that by setting a deadline, we made it easier for the terrorists, is that by not setting a deadline, we made it easy for the Iraqis to say, hey, what's the rush, the US is going to stay and fight our battles for us. We gave them their freedom, such as it is; that is when we should have made it clear we would stay only so long to to train and equip their troops to maintain it for them, then they were on their own.

So you tell me - are you willing to send your kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids over there to fight someone else's war? What's your timetable? How open ended is it?
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BT

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Re: When?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2008, 12:45:00 AM »
What's the rush in getting out.

Seems our troops in Iraq are adding stability to the region.

And all i hear from all the major candidates is that the best they will do is start a troop reduction.

That tells me we will be there for a while.


sirs

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Re: When?
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2008, 01:51:35 AM »
Quote
So, what is the going timetable for achieving a free & democratic society now??  I must have missed that memo.


What you missed is that we stood up and fought for ours ourselves.

What you missed is it wasn't the British that came in and dismantled what we had.  Or France, for that matter


So you tell me - are you willing to send your kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids over there to fight someone else's war?

A) it IS OUR war, since it IS about the threat of Islamofascism to my kids, grandkids, and greatgrandkids.
B) We broke it, we fix it


What's your timetable? How open ended is it?

I'll give it a few more years, and assess the progress.  If it's still moving in the right direction, I'll be ok with it.  If the Iraqi Government starts to really slide, then I'll reassess my position.  Honestly H, I know where you're coming from.  I had the same conversation on this with Fatman, and I can acknowledge that the Iraqi Government isn't doing everything in their power to speed up the process.  That doesn't equate to us abandoning all the sacrafices that got us so far already.  I'm not willing to do that, since every life lost in this war will not be in vain
« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 01:08:38 PM by sirs »
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Cynthia

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Re: When?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2008, 01:08:51 PM »
Quote
So, what is the going timetable for achieving a free & democratic society now??  I must have missed that memo.


What you missed is that we stood up and fought for ours ourselves.

What you missed is it wasn't the British that came in and dismantled what we had


So you tell me - are you willing to send your kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids over there to fight someone else's war?

A) it is OUR war, since it IS about the threat of Islamofascism to my kids, grandkids, and greatgrandkids.
B) We broke it, we fix it


What's your timetable? How open ended is it?

I'll give it a few more years, and assess the progress.  If it's still moving in the right direction, I'll be ok with it.  If the Iraqi Government starts to really slide, then I'll reassess my position




If the Iraqi Government starts to really slide, then I'll reassess my position.

 When it STARTS TO SLIDE?? This "mission accomplished" war was not supposed to last THIS LONG!

I CAN'T WAIT to read your new position when you reassess.