Monday, June 04, 2007

How Do They Call This Progress?

As I noted in yesterday's post, almost four months into the surge things are going very, very badly on the ground in Iraq. U.S. casualties are up, Iraqi civilian casualties are up, sectarian killings are up, the wounded to kill ratio for American soldiers is up, and Iraqi insurgents and militamen are using increasingly deadlier and more complex attacks to kill soldiers and civilians. Now the NY Times reports that even internal military assessments show the surge strategy is coming up short:

BAGHDAD, June 3 — Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

The American assessment, completed in late May, found that American and Iraqi forces were able to “protect the population” and “maintain physical influence over” only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods.

In the remaining 311 neighborhoods, troops have either not begun operations aimed at rooting out insurgents or still face “resistance,” according to the one-page assessment, which was provided to The New York Times and summarized reports from brigade and battalion commanders in Baghdad.


Violence has diminished in many areas, but it is especially chronic in mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods in western Baghdad, several senior officers said. Over all, improvements have not yet been as widespread or lasting across Baghdad, they acknowledged.

The operation “is at a difficult point right now, to be sure,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the deputy commander of the First Cavalry Division, which has responsibility for Baghdad.

So what's the problem? Well, according to military commanders in Iraq, Iraqi security forces - police and army units - are not handling the basic security tasks they're supposed to handle (e.g., manning checkpoints, conducting patrols), in some cases have not shown up for duty at all, or have performed "poorly."

Gee, what a surprise. So what's changed since Preznut Bush first started telling us the American forces would stand down once the Iraqis have stood up?

As far as I can tell, nothing. Iraqi forces still cannot be relied upon to work security and in more and more instances are seen to either be working with insurgents or militias while simultaneously helping the U.S. military.

So the problem now is, the U.S. has to continually root out insurgents from the same neighborhoods in Baghdad because they don't have enough force to maintain a large presence and cannot trust the Iraqis to hold the gains they have made in areas.

Sounds like the 160,000 troops Bush has put into Iraq isn't enough to effectively change conditions on the ground.

The Times article has the military commanders talking some jive about midsummer being a more realistic timetable for overall control of Baghdad, but what exactly is going to change between now and then? Are Iraqi security forces suddenly going to perform differently?

This surge has been a failure. 30,000-40,000 additional troops were never going to be able to REALLY change conditions on the ground and any honest observer of the war could have told you that before the start of the surge.

So why do we continue with the sham that the surge could work if given a chance?

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