The Iraqi Education of U.S. General Dempsey

As a means of satisfying people in the United States who insist on a withdrawal, the American House of Representatives is engaged in a debate over the training of Iraqi forces and how to get them to take over security from U.S. forces as a precursor for such a withdrawal. U.S. General Martin E. Dempsey, who is in charge of supervising the training of Iraqi forces, continues to say that the issue is just a matter of providing training instructors and funding.

It is his opinion that the situation is poised for improvement, but he reiterated that while considerable resources are being expended on the training of Iraqi forces, the trainees are not yet prepared and their ranks are not sufficiently deep.

General Dempsey repeated the strategic error of saying that the Prime Minister [Maliki] is determined to improve the performance of Iraqi forces. This is a foolish statement and shows that Dempsey doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But perhaps he’s just reading his lines from the American script he inherited from his predecessor.

General Dempsey was astonished to find that there are no banks in which Iraqi soldiers can deposit their salaries at the end of the month, and they are forced to hide their earnings in their homes. Of course, this doesn’t occur in the United States or Europe, where salaries can be securely and automatically deposited in banks and then withdrawn when needed.

This is not just a casual observation as it may appear at first glance. This is a core issue for the reconstruction of Iraq’s military, and is the clearest illustration of how the occupation forces have been unable to secure banking institutions and wrest them from the control of the militias. General Dempsey mentioned none of this when he appeared before the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives – not only because it’s a scandal of scandals, but because it shows that the militias are much more influential than it looks on paper, in the statistics published by the government.

Neither did General Dempsey mention the imitation soldiers that infect the ranks of the Iraqi security forces and act according to their sectarian leanings, which is the main complaint heard from American field commanders.

Dear Dempsey … You are out of your depth. The problem is not in the weakness of your outlook or lack of expertise; indeed, you are an old and seasoned general. But it seems that you failed to place enough importance on the political sectarianism put in place by Paul Bremer and some other agencies, which have produced the turmoil in security.

Five years into the occupation, you continue to talk of a hypothetical increase in the number of Iraqi police to 190,000 officers, and your perception of the situation continues to be based solely on misleading statistics. Perhaps there was a lack of data available to you regarding the number of armed Iraqis who would fight you and take to the streets carrying banners calling for the liberation of Iraq. But while you refuse to look beyond your statistics, Iraq’s real-life police are obsessed with sectarian repression and maintaining their partisan loyalties.

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