Bush faces mounting woes on Iraq

President Bush huddled with top military leaders about the Iraq war Friday, and Pentagon officials defended efforts to rid the Iraqi national police of sectarian bias and corruption, even as an independent review found the force too tainted to continue.

In an hour and a half meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure Pentagon room dubbed “the Tank,” Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney heard from leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who are worried about strains that are building on the forces — and on troops’ families — as a result of lengthy and repeated tours in Iraq.

In a fresh sign of U.S. frustration with the Iraqi government in Baghdad, a senior U.S. commander said in an Associated Press interview that he is aggravated by the slow pace of action by Iraq’s central government to ensure that its security forces are properly led, supplied and equipped on the battlefield.

“I have not seen any improvement really in the year I’ve been here in that regard,” said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq. He said the Iraqi army is doing “pretty well” in fighting the insurgency alongside U.S. troops, but they are not getting sufficient support from Baghdad.

“Progress is slower than it should be inside the (Iraqi) army in particular” with regard to proper support and direction from national leaders in Baghdad, Mixon said by telephone, adding that the problem lies in a combination of bureaucratic obstacles and sectarian-based decisions about army leadership appointments.

Two independent assessments of the situation in Iraq already have been previewed this week — the latest finding that Iraq’s national police are so corrupt and influenced by sectarianism that the corps should be scrapped and replaced with a smaller force.

An independent commission established by Congress to study Iraq’s security forces will recommend starting over and reshaping the troubled 25,000-member police organization with a more elite force, a defense official said Friday. He said the report was more positive about progress being made by the Iraqi army.

The report from a commission headed by the former commander of U.S. troops in Europe, retired Gen. James Jones, is to be presented to Congress next week but Gates and other officials were briefed about it this week, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been publicly released.

Asked the Pentagon’s view on this, press secretary Geoff Morrell said there already is a program under way to fix the problem of sectarian influence in the national police. He said he had not seen the Jones report.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that there have been problems with sectarianism within the Iraqi national police force, and we have been working on it along with the Iraqi government for some time to fix that problem,” Morrell said.

“We believe we now have a program in place which is showing progress, and that is by what we like to call `reblooming’ the Iraqi national police force. We are revetting, retraining and then reintroducing forces into the Iraqi national police force,” he added. “The intent of the program is to rid the Iraqi national police force of their sectarian biases that have been present from the get-go.”

At least five of the nine police brigades have been taken off duty and sent to be retrained and reintegrated into the force, said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman. He said the Iraqi government also recently approved a plan to hire some 2,000 internal affairs personnel to investigate problems in the force.

In his remarks to the AP, Mixon said he agrees the Iraqi national police should undergo retraining, adding that their biggest problem is a lack of experienced leadership. Sectarianism had been a problem in one of the two main national police units in his area, but that has since been corrected, he said.

“Certainly some retraining would be beneficial,” Mixon said, but he did not endorse the idea of scrapping the current force and starting over. “There is no question that the government of Iraq needs some type of police force that is mobile, that can move into certain areas that require police strengthening for selected periods of time. If that’s the way they reshape them I think that would be a good idea.”

The Iraqi National Police, a paramilitary organization run by the Interior Ministry, has long been feared and distrusted by the Iraqi people and is considered the weak link in the Iraqi security system. Many of its early senior officers were veterans of the Badr Brigade, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia formed in Iran from among Shiite refugees who had fled Saddam Hussein’s rule.

The national police are separate from the far more numerous local police.

The U.S. has been working to weed out corrupt members, taking whole police units out of service and retraining them, as well as removing a number of commanders.

The report on Iraqi forces follows circulation earlier this week of a draft report by the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress that found the Iraqi government has failed to meet political and security goals.

A third report — by the nation’s intelligence agencies last week — found there has been some progress, but that violence remains high, the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help.

Training and equipping an Iraqi Army, police force and border corps is key to handing over responsibility for Iraq’s security and bringing U.S. troops home. Commanders have said they hoped to have a 390,000 security forces trained by the end of this year, but that they are not yet capable enough in some areas for the U.S. to reduce its troop levels.


  1. keith

    Why is this news?

    This situation reminds me of something I learned from my parents at a very tender age:

    When you go into a store and break something, then you own it. Apparently, Mr. Bush and his cronies never learned that lesson.

    For why else would they now be SO concerned about the “progress” (or the lack thereof) of their puppet government in Iraq and their collective inability to control civil strife and “rebuild” the country?

    Has it ever occurred to any of these clowns that there would be nothing to “rebuild” in Iraq if Mr. Bush hadn’t decided to break it in the first place?

    Despite ALL the warnings from experienced people such as General Colin Powell about planning for the very real probability of such consequences BEFORE Mr. Bush decided to start killing people and breaking things in Iraq, our President completely ignored that sage advice and went right ahead with his imperialistic war anyway.

    So it should come as absolutely NO surprise to anyone (including Mr. Bush) that he now “owns” Iraq…AND all of its problems.

    When, oh when, are we going to STOP letting ignorant and arrogant politicians drag us into these seemingly endless quagmires in other parts of the world that are absolutely none of our business?

  2. gene

    Excellent Keith, I have nothing to add to that except (never) to your last statement. To many brain dead citizens for that to ever happen.

  3. Carl Nemo

    What do these “village idiots” expect…?! They are no different than Hitler and his war of agression to dominate and control all of Europe and even the Russias…! Launching this war was based on a criminal premise and “we the people” are now paying the price. This Iraqi debacle is of historic proportions and has destroyed this once great nation, with an almost sanctified image of it’s committment to protect others from aggression with us becoming aggressors for the tawdry acquisition of oil resources and real estate for the placement of bases in the Middle East;ie., militaristic “thieves”!

    Our criminal leaders have sown the wind and shall reap the whirlwind….!

    The real tragedy in all this is the incredible wastage of life, both civilian and military, the mindless and absolute destruction of a once functioning Iraqi infrastructure along with the history of the cradle of civilization via the destruction of it’s museums without regard to their safety on our planners’ parts!

    These greedy, militaristic fools refuse to accept the concept of defeat. They are defeated and they deserve defeat!

    “We the People” need to pull the plug on the funding for this ongoing debacle asap. I urge all citizen/patriots to contact their elected reps immediately if not sooner and “demand” de-funding of this faux war, staged for the inrichment of the MIC, along with thousands of shadowy, camp-following contractors, and the derivative benefit to the “oil patch” in terms of oil resource pricing…!

    We are dead broke as a nation and to continue this zero-sum debacle will insure the absolute and total financial destruction of the United States of America and the West, including Europe! When the U.S. and it’s capital markets goes belly-up it will be a “black-hole” event dragging the entire worlds’ financial paradigm down with it. It’s cheaper for U.S. citizens to pay $5.00 plus per gallon of gas then to risk absolute financial destruction as a function of this ongoing, failed resource grab!

    Bush/Cheney need to be impeached immediately if not sooner! As they say “just do it”…!


    Carl Nemo **==

  4. gene

    Carl the “plug” has already be pulled and this nation of “we the people” are already down the drain headed for the septic tank.

    A nation of mostly brain dead zombies is no match for premeditated evil.

  5. Helen Rainier

    This is exactly WHAT happens when you have someone — such as Bush — who’s never accomplished a thing on his own merit THINKS they know everything when they don’t and then refuse to listen to the people who DO know.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if their actions effected only THEMSELVES, but that rarely turns out to be the case with people like this. Their lack of responsibility and immaturity has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people — not the least of which are our sons and daughters.

    They have stolen from the future generations of this once great country (the national debt and the deficit spending) to pursue their own personal ideology that is not based on fact, reason and logic.

    I could care less if their actions had impacted on only themselves and their cohorts, but it hasn’t. This is a primary reason I detest them so much. They don’t care a damn about anyone else except themselves and then expect someone else to dig them out of the hell they have made.

    Such detestable and amoral wastes of human life. They are beyond being cold-blooded and reptilian.

  6. gene

    Excellent Helen….you nailed that bastard to the wall. Unfortunately we as in “we the people” are now stuck with the consequences.

  7. Bill Jonke

    “The Tank?”

    THAT’s appropriate for describing everything about a war that’s “tanking.”

  8. Carl Nemo

    “A nation of mostly brain dead zombies is no match for premeditated evil.”

    Thanks Gene for squaring me away! I’m like William Wallace in “Braveheart”, who hoped beyond hope that his countrymen would rise up against the hegemony of English rule. As Wallace, played by Mel Gibson having been “hung, drawn, soon to be beheaded, then quartered…shouted “FREEDOM” to the masses, so too are my sentiments, but evidently it’s falling on deaf, materialisticly hypnotized minds, along with closed ears…!

    Carl Nemo **==