Reporter Does the Math: Trained Iraqi Forces Up — So Are Deaths

By: E&P Staff

U.S. officials have long claimed that as America trains more Iraqi forces the violence in the country will subside. Actually, the exact opposite has happened, veteran Iraq correspondent Tom Lasseter (formerly with Knight Ridder, now with McClatchy after the sale) calculates today.

“Despite the addition of almost 100,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi troops in the past year, American efforts to pacify central Iraq and the capital appear to be failing, challenging a central assumption behind the U.S. strategy in Iraq: that training more Iraqi security forces will allow American troops to start going home,” he observes.

Of course, one problem has been that some of these newly-trained forces are joining in the sectarian carnage. Uniformed officers or official police vehicles are often spotted the scene of killings.

The raw numbers: the number of trained Iraqi soldiers and police grew from an estimated 168,670 in June 2005 to some 264,600 this June. “Yet Baghdad’s morgue is receiving nearly twice as many dead Iraqis each day as it did last year,” Lasseter notes. “The number of bombings causing multiple fatalities has risen steadily. Attacks on American and Iraqi troops last month grew 44 percent from June 2005.”

Lasseter continues: “Baghdad, usually clogged with traffic, has fallen quiet in recent weeks. Shops are shuttered. Roads are nearly empty in many neighborhoods. No one wants to be caught out in the open by gunmen, who set up roadblocks with seeming impunity.

“Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who commands the task force that’s training Iraq’s army, didn’t respond to written questions about whether the U.S. still has confidence in the training program. Other American officers in Iraq acknowledged the difficulties but counseled patience….

“If the U.S.-led effort to stand up more Iraqi troops and police doesn’t start improving security in the capital and other troubled areas, however, the Bush administration may be forced to consider sending more troops to Iraq, trying to convince other nations to send troops or even beginning to withdraw some Americans from the worst areas – or from Iraq. That could risk triggering the all-out civil war that some think has already begun.”

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