Every single television shot I've seen of the Iraqi forces, both police and army show a force that is in no way shape or form up to the task of making the populous under control. Their helmets look like they were found in some old army surplus store, if they have one. Their body armor has zero chance of stopping an AK-47 round, if they have any. They have virtually nothing in the way of armored troop carriers. In addition, they have no air power whatsoever. In other words, they are cannon fodder.
These are the guys that potential presidential candidate Duncan Hunter, heh, hold on, I still laugh when I hear that. Anyway, these are the guys Hunter wants to take up the fight in Baghdad.
In today's Washington Post, Walter Pincus writes up that Anthony Cordesman thinks pretty much the same thing that I do. Cordesman is the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From the Washington Post:
One of Cordesman's central issues is that public statements by the Defense Department "severely distorted the true nature of Iraqi force development in ways that grossly exaggerate Iraqi readiness and capability to assume security tasks and replace U.S. forces." He also writes that "U.S. official reporting is so misleading that there is no way to determine just how serious the problem is and what resources will be required."
Cordesman says the Pentagon's Aug. 31 status report, which was sent to Congress, lists 312,400 men "trained and equipped" among the Iraqi army and national and regular police. But it adds that "no one knows how many . . . are actually still in service." At the same time, he writes, "all unclassified reporting on unit effectiveness has been cancelled."
Criticizing statements about how many Iraqi army units are "in the lead," Cordesman notes that the Iraqi army "lacks armor, heavy firepower, tactical mobility and an Iraqi Air Force capable of providing combat support" -- the same points McCaffrey made yesterday.
Can we now stop pretending that we have done anything to meaningfully equip the Iraqi security forces and admit that we've basically just have been dicking around? Giving guys an AK-47 and marching them around in formations does not an army make. Hell, we're probably not even giving them the good ones, they're probably some Eastern European knock-offs.
I can't begin to estimate the amount of money it would cost to equip them to the level Cordesman thinks is necessary, but I think a good guess would be somewhere in the neighborhood as the amount of money we have already spent on this fiasco, or roughly $350 billion. Maybe that Iraqi oil revenue is going to start paying for that sometime soon. Ha!
Iraq is never going to work out while we're there. It probably will not work out if we leave, but it really is truly our only option.