Archive for the ‘Iraqi Army’ 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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From Muhammad: Ungrateful Pakistanis

March 28, 2008

By Muhammad
March 28, 2008

It always remain an irony in Pakistan as its leaders and journalists have been getting dollars from the United States, but still they have been speaking against it. Most the tribesmen think the US must change its policy and if possible dump these ungrateful Pakistani leaders and journalists.

Politician-cum-journalist from Chakwal Ayaz Amir has been telling the new leadership to abandon war on terror in which Pakistan is a frontline state. He has forgetton that Pakistanis and tribesmen are being killed by terrorists. If the United States is coming to the help of tribesmen and poor Pakistanis then he has been opposing the move.

Just read the latest article of Ayaz Amir, who has won National Assembly seat on Pakistan Muslim League ticket. He is playing the role of agent of evil forces. The following is the article published in The News International.It isn’t and never was and if our newly-inducted political leadership is dumb enough to swallow all the fiction about the so-called ‘war on terror’ that our American friends (friends?) seem keen to push down its throat, God help us.

This is George Bush’s war. This is the war, or a front in the war, orchestrated by those strategic crazies going by the name of neocons, the same geniuses who wanted to reshape the world – beginning with the reshaping of the Middle East – and gave their own people, the American people, two un-winnable wars: in Iraq and, wait for it, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was supposed to be the more ‘doable’ affair, the one they thought they had wrapped up in 2001. But it is proving as tough and intractable as Iraq, with the Taliban, alas, not finished and the war, far from being over, stretching into the remote distance.

This is not even America’s war because most Americans who care to have an opinion about their country’s foreign policy – and there are millions of Americans who don’t give a damn, this section of the American population having a hard time deciphering a map of the world – are opposed to Bush’s adventure in Iraq. And although Afghanistan doesn’t loom as large across American radar screens as Iraq, it is beginning to assume a larger presence.

Indeed, the one thing saving American and NATO forces from utter disaster in Afghanistan is the Pakistan army on this side of the Durand Line. This is the buttress shoring up the American position and that is why, with new winds blowing across Islamabad, our friends in Washington are alarmed.

Their policy towards Pakistan was shaped around one man: their favourite general, Pervez Musharraf. And now that after the recently-concluded elections his position has crumbled, and is visibly diminishing by the day, the war party in Washington is worried that Pakistan may not be as zealous as it has been in taking American orders in the ‘war on terror’.

Small wonder John Negroponte, deputy secretary of state and holder of many dark secrets about American policy in Latin America, and Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state and a familiar face in Pakistan, were so quick to descend on Islamabad, basically wanting to get a feel about the new guys about to enter the corridors of power.

Despite what some of the headlines have been suggesting Negroponte and Boucher shouldn’t be too worried because while the new guys may have waxed eloquent about ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ – very much the new buzzword in Islamabad – no one has suggested that Pakistan is about to cut its strings with America or is about to change course dramatically.

Pakistan is hardly in a position for a radical shift all at once because the Americans are all over the place and there are so many things tying us to America that a sudden application of the scissors is simply out of the question.

Let’s not forget that the army is the key player in this equation and any rethinking of the American alliance will have to come as much from General Headquarters as from the new National Assembly. Would the army like to forego American military assistance, the five-year ‘aid’ package which has enabled it to go on an extended arms’ shopping spree? Would it like to forego the nearly hundred million dollars a month it gets for services rendered in the ‘war on terror’? Where does this money go? Does anyone even know?

Such ‘aid’ once you are hooked on it becomes an addiction. Vested interests develop and lifestyles come to depend upon this bonanza. Overcoming such an addiction is not easy.

Islamabad is a town of dealers, fixers and commission agents anyway: well-off parasites living off the inflow of American dollars. Any talk of cutting the American connection and this razzle-dazzle crowd will point accusing fingers at the new guys in town and say that they are acting ‘irresponsibly’. Deep pockets after all are not easy to fight.

Let’s not also forget that parliamentary sovereignty in this country is a bit of a fiction. We may like to think parliament is a sovereign institution but when was the last time parliament took a sovereign decision?

All our great foreign policy adventures, our various jihads and wars, never had anything to do with parliamentary debate or approval. We must rethink our American connection, and as a result of that connection the sentry and bag duty our army performs along the Afghan frontier, but for anything to come of this exercise the rethink has to be a joint undertaking between the army command and the new guys in town (actually all old guys but making a reappearance on the national scene after the extended disaster of the Musharraf years… indeed after Musharraf anything, even recycled stuff, would look new).

Unless the army command is re-educated, unless it gets rid of the strategic and war-on-terror-related nonsense which under American tutelage has become part of its collective thinking, Pakistan will know neither peace nor harmony.

Yes, there are elements in Pakistani society keen on turning the clock back, who believe passionately that the way to go forward is to return to biblical times (biblical here a metaphor for their overdrawn simplicities about the fundamentals of life). Yes, there are elements in the tribal areas who think that it is their holy duty to come to the aid of the Taliban, or anyone fighting the Americans, in Afghanistan.

We should be discouraging such elements, interdicting their movement across the border. On no account must Waziristan, north and south, become a Taliban sanctuary, a staging post for the anti-American resistance. But we shouldn’t let the Americans tell us how to go about this business. Because there is a whole history of American interference—from Vietnam and Cambodia to Iraq and Afghanistan – which testifies to that great American talent for touching a problem and turning it into a first-rate catastrophe.

Let the Taliban fight their own wars. By the same token let the Americans also fight their wars. We should have nothing to do with either of these undertakings. The Lord knows we have enough of our problems of our own to settle.

Musharraf was America’s loyal ally, Pakistan’s Ngo Din Diem and Pinochet rolled into one, and because he acted under American orders and in his zeal to please his American protectors paid no heed to the sentiments of his own people, this whole terrorism business, far from being squashed, has ballooned out of control. A problem (or call it a virus) confined to the tribal areas has spread to other parts of Pakistan. There were no suicide bombings in 2001. Now it is a phenomenon we are all familiar with.

This entire strategy, if one can dignify it thus, has backfired. Pakistan is now in the crosshairs of terrorism precisely because Musharraf hitched his wagon, and the nation’s, to Bush’s failed and imploding star. Across the globe, and this includes America, Bush is considered little better than a moron. And to think that because of one man – Musharraf –

Pakistan and its army have been tied to the apron strings of this moron.

We don’t need to court American hostility. We should be friends with America but not its lackey or satellite. We should learn to live without the high of American ‘assistance’. At any rate, it is the parasitic classes who have benefited the most from this assistance, not the majority of the Pakistani people. So what are we talking or complaining about?

If terrorism has to be fought we must do it on our own. The Americans, as we have seen, will make the problem worse. Thus the first condition of fighting terrorism is getting rid of American advice and assistance. The Frontier Corps doesn’t need to be recast by the Americans (as they propose to do). Is the new Iraqi army any better for being outfitted by the Americans?

There is even – and this is really silly – a USAID programme for the ‘capacity-building’ of MNAs and MPAs. As part of this programme there is a ‘capacity-enhancing’ centre (with newspapers and computers, etc.) right in the Parliamentary Lodges in Islamabad. Madam Speaker, your urgent attention please.) Goes to show how busy our American friends have been, and what unlikely corners they have penetrated, these past seven years.


In Mosul, New Test of Rebuilt Iraqi Army

March 20, 2008
The New York Times
March 20, 2008
MOSUL, Iraq — After the Iraqi Army increased patrols in this northern city earlier this year, Col. Haji al-Zibari found himself chasing two insurgents in a weapons-laden truck.The driver and his passenger veered off the road, jumped out, fired a few shots and disappeared into the city.

So Colonel Zibari, then the second in command of the Second Brigade of the Second Iraqi Army Division, drove their truck to a traffic circle in the middle of a known insurgent haven on the crowded west end of the city and doused it with gasoline.

Then he set a gas-soaked rag on fire, tossed it on the ground and fired a burst from his AK-47, blasting the flaming cloth into the truck. He let the whole thing burn.

An Iraqi soldier salutes on top of an armoured vehicle during ...
An Iraqi soldier salutes on top of an armoured vehicle during a graduation ceremony in Besmaya Range Complex March 18, 2008. The graduation ceremony was held for the 4th Brigade of the 5th Division of the Iraqi Army.
REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ) 

“This is what we do to insurgents’ property!” he shouted to the rooftops.

When American military officials talk about “Iraqis in the lead,” Colonel Zibari is an example of what they mean: Iraqis operating their own checkpoints, doing their own patrols, using their own intelligence. American officials acknowledge that Iraqi methods often deviate from standard military doctrine but say that even rough-hewn tactics are more acceptable than the prospect of an indefinite, if more professional, occupying force.

The Bush administration says that an Iraqi Army capable of fighting on its own is a crucial prerequisite for the eventual withdrawal of American troops. But since its disbandment in 2003 by Coalition Provisional Authority Order No. 2, the Iraqi Army has struggled to regain its footing. For years, Iraqi troops have been hampered by poor training, corruption, equipment shortages and a determined insurgency that has killed twice as many Iraqi soldiers and police officers as American troops.

Now, five years into the war, American commanders say that the reborn force is coming into its own. And Mosul, an ethnically mixed city that has been under stepped-up assault by insurgents and where Iraqi Army units far outnumber their American counterparts, offers a possible glimpse into the future. But the Iraqi Army’s performance in Mosul so far suggests that while the Iraqi forces are taking on more responsibility and have made strides, there are still troubling gaps.

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Hard-Won Progress In Baghdad

March 15, 2008

By Anthony Diaz 

The Washington Post
Saturday, March 15, 2008; Page A13

BAGHDAD — Since I arrived here last August, I have been struck by four things: the financial commitment we have made to reconstruction; the precipitous decline in violence; the inklings of representative government; and the small yet significant progress in communal relations between the mostly Shiite Iraqi army and the predominantly Sunni residents of this area. One often reads of the chaos plaguing Iraq. Yet the media accounts only infrequently seem to grasp the successes being achieved.
A U.S. Army flight medic Spc. Stacey Dill, 31, from Middletown, ... 
A U.S. Army flight medic Spc. Stacey Dill, 31, from Middletown, Calif., reaches up to clean equipment on her medevac team’s Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, March 15, 2008.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

My combat outpost sits along the Tigris River in a section of Baghdad known as Adhamiyah. It is enclosed by a wall that separates it from the predominantly Shiite eastern section of the city, similar to the wall that separates Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. Though a few Shiites remain within the enclosure, most have moved out, leaving a Sunni enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods.

American taxpayers well know that millions of dollars were squandered on poorly scrutinized projects. Our government dumped money into quick fixes with, for too long, little regard for the culture of dependency it was breeding. But much of this has changed. Yes, sustainable job creation was not initially a priority, and working-age residents of Adhamiyah remain dangerously underemployed. But in this area we have begun to create more permanent jobs.

A US soldier coaches Iraqi soldiers on how to detain a prisoner ...
US soldier coaches Iraqi soldiers on how to detain a prisoner during a training exercise in Diyala province. A top UN official said the sectarian bloodshed which has ravaged Iraq since 2006 is now running at a “much lower” level, offering a chance for leaders to push national reconciliation.(AFP/File/David Furst)

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