9/30/2005

Only one Iraqi army battalion seems capable of fighting without U.S

Yet Gen. Casey says "Iraq War Strategy Is Working". General, have you no shame ?!?!? -- law

WASHINGTON - Only one Iraqi army battalion seems capable of fighting without U.S. help, a senior American general told Congress on Thursday, leaving some lawmakers worried about worsening conditions there despite his assurances that the overall military strategy is working.

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the number of Iraqi army battalions rated by U.S. officers as capable of fighting without U.S. help had dropped from three to one. This prompted expressions of concern by Democrats and Republicans alike, at a time when many lawmakers and members of the public are growing restless about the U.S. involvement in Iraq and the nearly 2,000 American troops who have died there.

"That contributes to a loss of public confidence in how the war is going," Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, said of Casey's remarks. "It doesn't feel like progress when we hear today that there is only one Iraqi battalion fully capable."

The Iraqi troop ratings are important because the
Pentagon has built its Iraq strategy on the expectation that it can start bringing American troops home as the Iraqis gradually take the lead in the fight against the insurgency.

Casey said 75 percent of the U.S.-trained Iraqi army was at least capable of engaging in combat, albeit with U.S. troops providing support in most cases. He declined to give an exact breakdown of Iraqi combat readiness, which he said was classified as secret, but he said more than 30 battalions are judged capable of taking the lead in an offensive, with U.S. support. Only one can operate entirely on its own.

Casey did not explain why the number had dropped from three in June to one today. But he said the Iraqi army is getting stronger, even though the Ministry of Defense that manages the army lacks expertise and stability. He said Iraqi soldiers performed well in recent battles for control of the city of Tal Afar.

Generals Say Iraq War Strategy Is Working - Yahoo! News

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