Monday, October 03, 2005

Gen. Petraeus on Iraq

General Petraeus gave an interesting overivew of progress in Iraq recently at Princeton University, as described by blogger Tigerhawk:
The central theme of his talk, which was supported by lots of data and supporting anecdotes, was that there are a lot of myths about Iraq that need to be dispelled. One such myth is the claim that NATO has not been involved -- General Petraeus forcefully argued that it had been, particularly in the establishment of the military academy and training facilities, but that NATO's participation had been substantially ignored by the press. Another myth is that "the Iraqi forces have no armor." Coalition members from the former Communist bloc have contributed lots of armor compatible with legacy Iraqi experience, including 77 T-70 tanks from Hungary ("which are better than anything the Iraqis had under Saddam"). Iraqi tanks have been organized into an armored brigade which is responsible for securing the airport road ("Route Irish has been free of violence since the Iraqi armored brigade took it over").
This is interesting, as it's still reported as an article of faith that the Airport Road still has not been secured. It's just one of those myths that's repeated over and over.

Did you know for example that electricity generation now exceeds pre-war levels?

And now electricity and water service is being extended to regions in the country that never had it before.
Notwithstanding the huge size of Saddam's military, even experienced Iraqi officers did not know how to train. For example, they did not train with live ammunition because of shortages, and expressed wonder at American methods for teaching marksmanship. Historically, “the inshallah school of shooting” prevailed. Iraqi soldiers in combat would hold the weapon over their head, shoot wildly until the magazine was empty, and “inshallah -- meaning if God wills it -- you will hit something.”
...
The most impressive thing about the Iraqi units is how tenacious they have become, notwithstanding early reports that they would cut and run. According to General Patraeus, since the January elections, from which the Iraqi security forces “took an enormous lift that still persists,” the Iraqi forces "have not run from a fight, they have not backed down." This strikes me, by the way, as enormously hopeful for the future of Iraq, the persistence of the counterinsurgency, and the power of democracy to motivate the fight against the war on terror.

More highlights from the Transition Command's work:

Under NATO's auspices, the Iraqi military academy is open with entirely Iraqi instructors. It might have been opened much earlier with foreign instructors, but the Coalition felt that it was important to make it an Iraqi endeavor. General Patraeus noted later that he was very unhappy that this achievement got essentially no coverage in the media given its importance to success in Iraq.
Way to go, MSM.

Lots of details follow in the report. To summarize,
The progress since the summer of 2004, when General Patraeus assumed command, has been considerable. Fifteen months ago, only six battalions of Iraqi army (less than 2,000 men) were in training, and none were "in the fight." Now, 14 battalions are in training, and 74 are operational and in the fight.

A year ago, there were no special police units. Now there are 27 battalions in the fight, and five more serving as border patrol and emergency response. These are all top-down units, none that have failed “like the homegrown Fallujah brigade.”
...
So, over 115 Army and special police battalions are in the fight, the majority of which are “fighting alongside.”
Then there were questions:
The other interesting question involved the "public relations" war. "Are we losing the PR war to the enemy? What are you doing on the marketing PR front?"

General Patraeus said that they have given the media an enormous amount of information, including countless important metrics for measuring progress, but that it is largely ignored. He observed that the enemy “On many days it is impossible to break through the steady drumbeat of sensational attacks occurring in Baghdad throughout the country. The opening of the new military academy got no coverage at all, even though it was a big event with the whole Iraqi government in attendance."

Patraeus is obviously extremely unhappy with the monomaniacal press coverage.
It's seditious.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff said...

Seditious. That perfectly sums it up.

Note the enormous effort we're expending in things like base construction, and ammunition supply--mundane to CNN, but vital to training an army.

MSM: bastards.

1:07 AM, October 04, 2005  

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