Fewer NATO trainers will be assisting the Iraqi army than originally planned:
[NATO top operational commander U.S. Gen. James L. Jones] insisted the cuts were not due to NATO’s difficulties in mustering troops for the mission, saying instead that Iraq’s fledgling forces had proved more capable of training their own recruits.
“We’re discovering, from the training aspect of things, that the Iraqis have quite a bit of capacity to do that themselves,” Jones told reporters. “What the NATO mission can do is obviously take advantage of that and incorporate it into our overall scheme.”
Jones said the current target was to raise the about 100 NATO soldiers presently in Iraq to 159. Last month, the alliance said it wanted to put 300 instructors and support staff on the ground at the start of this year. A final decision will be taken by ambassadors from the 26 member nations.
So that means that they have only sent about a third of the originally-planned number of trainers, and then cut that number by nearly half. But it’s not due to NATO’s inability to provide the trainers, it’s due to the Iraqi Army’s ability to train its own troops.
We’ve seen how the Iraqi troops perform. With a few notable exceptions, they have been ‘poor’ to ‘bad’ so far. Not too surprising, really, considering the chaos in Iraq and the pressure those folks are under. But they’ve got a long way to go.
Recall that the US military is considering INCREASING the presense of US trainers and advisors in the Iraqi Army. But NATO thinks that there are too many trainers already.
NATO has been struggling to persuade governments to commit extra troops to both its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the problem has been compounded by the refusal of France, Germany and other nations that opposed the U.S. led war to send instructors.
If NATO is having trouble raising the troops, fair enough. We knew this would be an issue. But why try to sugar-coat it and cover for shortcomings if they are? Spell it out.
Without a trained, capable Iraqi army that can keep order and shoulder the bulk of the load (which would free US troops to go more offensive and not sit around waiting for the next IED or mortar attack) the new government is going to have rough going. And it’s going to be rough enough the way it is. (via Rantburg, which I finally got around to adding to my link list)