This was posted a few days ago at Think Progress:
Yesterday, President Bush claimed that Iraqi security forces ?primarily led? the assault on the city of Tal Afar. Bush highlighted it as an ?especially clear? sign of the progress Iraq security forces were making in Iraq.
The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year?s assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army ? with six Iraqi battalions supporting them?This year in Tal Afar, it was a very different story. The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces ? 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support.
TIME Magazine reporter Michael Ware, who is embedded with the U.S. troops in Iraq who participated in the Tal Afar battle, appeared on Anderson Cooper yesterday. He said Bush?s description was completely untrue:
I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them.
To which Mudville Gazette promptly began to pummel Michael Ware’s story:
First, note that Ware acknowledges the placement of Iraqi forces in the battle – “I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda” – this statement is all that’s needed to confirm the President’s account. Anyone thinking the President meant anything other than that by “in the lead” is fooling themselves.
But Ware’s problem is with the Special Forces advisors; their presence indicates the Iraqis aren’t ready to go it alone. But the “argument” boils down to this: the President says progress is being made towards a goal where Iraqi forces can carry the battle themselves, and his detractors counter that it isn’t true – because they haven’t yet reached that goal.
[…]His argument that they were not “in the lead” because they had Special Forces advisors with them “right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda” is equally ridiculous – and an insult to the courage and resolve of Iraqi troops and the Special Forces. No one – certainly not the president (who, if you want to be mince words, actually said “The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces”) is claiming the Iraqis are ready to go without our help. This is the whole reason we’re still there. Ware has invented his own definition of what the President meant by “in the lead” – and it’s not one the President shares. How can I be sure? Because as the President has made clear, when the Iraqis are ready to go without Special Forces advisors is when we come home – victorious.
Ware didn’t mean to confirm everything the President said – but in fact he did. That’s the danger of attacking rapidly without a well thought out plan.
This is all that the Clinton News Network has? Some reporter stating that the Iraqi army isn’t ready to lead completely yet? Duh! If they were then we would be seeing our troops stand down just as Bush has said. Real Einstein they got over at Newsweek huh?
What timing for this article to come out:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2005 ? Increasing numbers of Iraqi military and police are being trained, equipped and fielded to confront terrorists trying to destabilize the new Iraqi government, a senior U.S. military officer in Iraq said today.
“Iraqi security forces are in the lead, right now,” Army Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chief of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite news conference from Iraq. Dempsey’s organization assists the Iraqi government in developing its security forces.
Dempsey said about 225,000 Iraqi soldiers and police will be available to provide security for Iraq’s Dec. 15 nationwide election. That, he said, is in contrast to the 130,000 Iraqi security forces that were available during the Jan. 30 election.
Dempsey said current plans include establishing 10 Iraqi army infantry divisions –160,000 soldiers — by 2007.
A priority for 2006 is to focus on Iraqi police forces, Dempsey said. There are now about 25,000 Iraqi special police that can conduct combat and commando operations as well as routine policing duties, he said.
“The special police, in particular, provide a vital function in countering the insurgents and terrorism foreign-fighter threat because they are a bridge for us,” Dempsey said. After a city or town is stabilized, he explained, Iraqi special police can employ their normal policing skills to interact with the populace and root out any remaining terrorists.
Yet, “we’ve got to get to the point where the police are truly an element of local civil control as opposed to counterinsurgent forces,” Dempsey said. That is one focus point, he said, for the Iraqi police improvement program in 2006.
Today about 75,000 regular Iraqi police are trained and equipped, Dempsey said, noting plans call for training 135,000 more regular police officers.
And there are now about 18,000 Iraqi border police, with plans to add another 9,000. About 3,000 Iraqi highway patrol officers have been trained, he said, noting another 3,000 are required.
The projected end-state level for Iraqi security forces — including military, regular and special police, border police and other units — is pegged at more than 340,000 members, Dempsey said. That number is likely to change, he said, as the new Iraqi government that takes over after the Dec. 15 election mulls its spending priorities.
Dempsey said about $10.6 billion was budgeted as part of a two-year plan for developing Iraqi security forces. Around $3.5 billion has been programmed, but not committed, for Iraqi security force development in fiscal year 2006.
Dempsey said his command partners with Multinational Corps Iraq commanded by Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who also heads 18th Airborne Corps. MNCI provides embedded trainers and transition teams for the training and development of new Iraqi security forces, Dempsey said.
However, the majority of trainers for Iraqi basic army and police training are Iraqis, he said.