The Iraq Study Group, has released its recommendations, which are in lines with the leaks we’ve been hearing:
- Bring all the regions players to the negotiating table
- Talk directly to Syria and Iraq
- End the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by redeploying U.S. combat brigades by the first quarter of 2008 — conditions on the ground permitting.
For this plan to have a half-chance of succeess, so much depends on the Iraqi military. But it’s hard to see why such a group of smart people has any faith that the ISF will be able to control the security of Iraq (even with U.S. in a support role) when their assessment of Iraq’s military preparedness is this bleak:
The Iraqi Army…
Significant questions remain about the ethnic composition and loyalties of some Iraqi units — specifically, whether they will carry out missions on behalf of national goals instead of a sectarian agenda. Of Iraq’s 10 planned divisions, those that are even-numbered are made up of Iraqis who signed up to serve in a specific area, and they have been reluctant to redeploy to other areas of the country. As a result, elements of the Army have refused to carry out missions.
The Iraqi Army is also confronted by several other significant challenges:
- Units lack leadership. They lack the ability to work together and perform at higher levels of organization — the brigade and division level. Leadership training and the experience of leadership are the essential elements to improve performance.
- Units lack equipment. They cannot carry out their missions without adequate equipment. Congress has been generous in funding requests for U.S. troops, but it has resisted fully funding Iraqi forces. The entire appropriation for Iraqi defense forces for FY 2006 ($3 billion) is less than the United States currently spends in Iraq every two weeks.
- Units lack personnel. Soldiers are on leave one week a month so that they can visit their families and take them their pay. Soldiers are paid in cash because there is no banking system. Soldiers are given leave liberally and face no penalties for absence without leave. Unit readiness rates are low, often at 50 percent or less.
- Units lack logistics and support. They lack the ability to sustain their operations, the capability to transport supplies and troops, and the capacity to provide their own indirect fire support, close-air support, technical intelligence, and medical evacuation. They will depend on the United States for logistics and support through at least 2007.