Rumors of American Defeat in Iraq are Greatly Exaggerated, Part 2

These are the findings of Retired General Barry McCaffrey with respect to America’s immediate objectives in Iraq. General McCaffrey toured Iraq between April 13 and April 20.
1. There has been substantial progress in building an effective Iraqi army, though problems with a lack of equipment and a lack of professionalism still need to be overcome…

The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidly expanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent – most are adequate. However, they are very badly equipped…[and] the corruption and lack of capability of the ministries will require several years of patient coaching and officer education in values as well as the required competencies.
2. Progress towards building an Iraqi police force, which McCaffrey believes should be the top US priority, has been more elusive and needs better support…
The crux of the war hangs on our ability to create urban and rural local police with the ability to survive on the streets of this incredibly dangerous and lethal environment…
The police are heavily infiltrated by both the [anti-Iraq forces] and the Shia militia. They are widely distrusted by the Sunni population. They are incapable of confronting local armed groups. They inherited a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption.
This will be a ten year project requiring patience, significant resources, and an international public face. This is a very, very tough challenge which is a prerequisite to the Iraqis winning the counter-insurgency struggle they will face in the coming decade. We absolutely can do this. But this police program is now inadequately resourced.
3. General McCaffrey is a hair’s breadth towards the optimistic side with regards to the prospect of forming a permanent, unified, democratic Iraqi government…
The incompetence and corruption of the interim Iraqi Administration has been significant. There is total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions created by the 35 years of despotism and isolation of the criminal Saddam regime. This is a traumatized society with a malignant political culture….
However, in my view, the Iraqis are likely to successfully create a governing entity. The intelligence picture strongly portrays a population that wants a federal Iraq, wants a national Army, rejects the AIF as a political future for the nation, and is optimistic that their life can be better in the coming years….
It is likely that the Iraqis will pull together enough political muscle to get through the coming 30 day crisis to produce a cabinet to submit to the Parliament – as well as the four month deadline to consider constitutional amendments. The resulting government is likely to be weak and barely functional. It may stagger along and fail in 18 months. But it is very likely to prevent the self-destruction of Iraq. Our brilliant and effective U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will be the essential ingredient to keeping Iraq together. If the U.S. loses his leadership in the coming year, this thing could implode.
4. “The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government”….
The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment. Their brutal attacks on the civil population are creating support for the emerging government.
5. American policy towards detainees in Iraq now errs towards the side of caution…
Thanks to strong CENTCOM leadership and supervision at every level, our detainee policy has dramatically corrected the problems of the first year of the War on Terrorism. Detainee practices and policy in detention centers in both Iraq and Afghanistan that I have visited are firm, professional, humane, and well supervised. However, we may be in danger of over-correcting….Many of the AIF detainees routinely accuse U.S. soldiers of abuse under the silliest factual situations knowing it will trigger an automatic investigation.

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