Monday, December 3, 2007

GAO Blasts Department of Defense on Iraqi Police

[This post originally appeared on my blog, Blue Girl, Red State and was written by my friend and co-blogger Pale Rider - one of the sharpest minds blogging today.]

--By Pale Rider

They put out the NIE on Iran today in order to keep people from paying attention to what came out on Friday--the GAO Report on the Iraqi police forces.

The report, filed under the subject heading Operation Iraqi Freedom: DOD Assessment of Iraqi Security Forces’ Units as Independent Not Clear Because ISF Support Capabilities Are Not Fully Developed, highlights a critical fact of what is going on in Iraq. The Iraqi police can't do anything independently, but the Bush Administration by way of the Department of Defense is doing everything it can to keep you from figuring that out. And it sent General Petraeus to testify before Congress about some things that weren't, ahem, not quite true. Oh my goodness, has St. David of the General Rank of Petraeus been caught lying to Congress? Perish the thought. And by the way, that was him walking on water a little while ago.

[Keep reading...]

The GAO goes on at length in their report, and I can't do it justice. I can't adequately parse all the polite doublespeak in a way that adequately expresses how outraged we should all be.

A few things stand out. The GAO says:

...the Administration’s September 14, 2007, Benchmark Assessment Report stated that although some Iraqi Army and police forces were operating independently, it also stated that the greatest constraints on independent operations were a shortage of trained leaders and an immature logistics capability, and that for the present time Coalition partnership and support remained necessary for most ISF operations.

"Independently." Remember when this was an issue? Let's get in the way-way back machine and travel all the way back to 2005:

Sep 29, 2005 - from USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The Iraqi military has only one battalion — about 500-600 soldiers — capable of fighting on its own, U.S. commanders told lawmakers Thursday.
Many Iraqi police are not being paid, and insurgents are infiltrating Iraqi police and military forces, the commanders acknowledged. Even so, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq, said U.S. troops could start leaving next year if Iraqi voters back a proposed constitution and form a government.
"I do believe that the possibility for condition-based reductions of coalition forces still exists in 2006," Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


In his final appearance as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring Gen. Richard Myers told McCain that he never said "things are going very well in Iraq" and that the United States is not developing a "cut-and-run strategy."
"This is a win strategy," Myers said, adding that Iraqis were making progress toward forming a government. "In a sense, things are going well."
The commanders didn't say how many qualified Iraqi troops would be necessary to allow U.S. withdrawals.
In June, the Pentagon said three of 100 Iraqi battalions were capable of acting on their own, Casey acknowledged. Thursday morning, that estimate changed to one.
After a recess, Casey said the new assessment of Iraqi readiness stemmed from a new, more demanding standard U.S. commanders use to judge Iraqi forces.


So, in just over two years, the Iraqi police are in the same shape today that they were then. In other words, they've made no progress whatsoever in any of the important areas they needed to improve. In 2005, we were told that they have tens of thousands that don't show up, that the insurgents have infiltrated the forces, that there is inadequate training and the units can't fight independently.

According to the GAO, not a damned thing has changed. I guess Generals Petraeus and Hunzeker--two individuals, who you'll recall, once were given responsibility for training the Iraqi police forces--did a bang-up job training the Iraqi police--so much so that they got promoted and were given great new jobs. If there was any accountability whatsoever in the United States Army, the only assignment these two generals would have right now is a temporary billet at Fort Living Room with a future engagement planned at Camp Golf Course.

Just a few highlights--and the intrepid Blue Girl will tell us more when time permits--

...As of July 2007, the Iraqi Army was short 18,000 corporals, 14,500 sergeants, and 7,500 sergeants first class. With MNSTC-I advice and assistance, the Iraqis are working a number of initiatives to address this leadership shortage.

...the MOI is facing the fundamental challenge of not being able to accurately account for its personnel. According to DOD’s June and September 2007 reports to Congress, there is currently no reliable data on how many Coalition-trained personnel are still serving in the MOI’s forces. Moreover, DOD has also reported that the MOI has hired a significant number of police beyond those trained by the Coalition. According to testimony by the former MNSTC-I commander, the MOI’s payroll accounts for about 60,000 to 74,000 more personnel than the number trained and equipped by the Coalition. However, he also stated that about 20 percent of this overage are “ghosts,” meaning personnel whose names appear on the MOI’s payroll but who are not actually serving.

...According to both the former and current MNSTC-I commanders, the National Police are also beset with widespread sectarianism. In June 2007, the former MNSTC-I commander testified that the Iraqi National Police was the “single most sectarian organization in Iraq.” Two months later, the current MNSTC-I commander echoed his predecessor’s assessment, stating that the National Police were “overly infiltrated with militia elements” and that “there’s no doubt that in the National Police the sectarian influence remains and will be hard to eradicate.” Finally, evidence indicates that the Iraqi Police Service is also heavily infiltrated with sectarian elements. The former commander of the Iraq Assistance Group13 characterized the Iraqi Police Service as the ISF element most vulnerable to sectarianism, despite the MOI’s removal of over 3,000 members considered to have a sectarian bias in January 2007.

...Since January 2007, the Iraqi government has replaced 70 percent of senior commanders in the National Police due to their sectarianism, a list that includes 2 division, 7 brigade, and 17 battalion commanders. These high level command changes are especially significant given that the National Police are facing a critical officer shortage; by the summer of 2007 they had filled fewer than half of their officer positions. Despite these officer changes, however, according to a July 2007 DOD report, there continues to be a sectarian bias in the appointment of senior Iraqi police commanders.


What did General Petraeus tell Congress? Well, the GAO weighs in on that, too:

For example, in its most recent report to Congress, issued in September 2007, DOD stated that 95 Army, Special Operations Combat Forces, and Iraqi Army Infrastructure units; an indeterminate number of MOD logistics enablers; 7 National Police Combat Battalions; and 3 National Police Brigade Headquarters were all “capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations independently or with Iraqi or Coalition forces.” Although in none of these reports does DOD distinguish between those forces that are capable of operating independently and those that require Coalition or Iraqi assistance, the tables in which DOD’s data are presented lead one to believe that at least one if not more than one of the units was rated as independent. This was underscored during the MNF-I commander’s September 10 and 11, 2007 testimony, during which he briefed the Congress that in every month since November 2005, with only one exception (February 2006) the Coalition has assessed at least one ISF unit as “fully independent.”

The GAO has a disturbing finding on this--

However, despite DOD’s reports and the MNF-I commander’s recent testimony that a certain number of ISF have been assessed as “fully independent,” after March 2006 it was no longer possible for a Coalition transition team member to rate the readiness of an ISF unit using these terms. Previously, in guidance provided to Coalition transition teams for use in evaluating Iraqi Security Forces, a level 1 unit was said to be “fully capable of planning, executing, and sustaining independent operations.” However, in the spring of 2006, MNC-I removed the words “fully” and “independent” from the definition. When we asked DOD officials for the reason for this change they were not able to provide us with an explanation. Therefore, according to the current guidance, a level 1 unit is one that is “capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations.” It is important to note that, according to the guidance, a Coalition transition team cannot judge an ISF unit as “independent.” However, in its most recent report to Congress, DOD asserted that an “independent unit is one that is capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations.” Thus, DOD’s continued reporting that some ISF units are “independent” or “fully independent” is not congruent with MNC-I’s instructions for filling out the Operational Readiness Assessments on which DOD’s assertions and reports seem to be based. If independence is still a relevant descriptor of ISF unit capabilities, then why was the term removed from the definition of a level 1 unit in 2006?

So did General Petraeus lie to Congress? Did he commit perjury?

My reaction to all of this is...[sigh].

Another day, another outrage. And we don't have a working press to tell all of this to the American people.