Archive for the ‘bloody’ Category

‘Standing up’ Iraq army looks open-ended

March 29, 2008
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent 1 hour, 20 minutes ago

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.

Iraqi army soldiers jubilate during a handing over ceremony ...
Iraqi army soldiers jubilate during a handing over ceremony in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, in this Oct. 29, 2007, file photo. The U.S. military turned over security responsibilities on Monday to Iraqi authorities in the mainly Shiite province of Karbala, the eighth of the nation’s 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control.(AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani, File)

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.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_to_grow_an_
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