Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Iraqi troops continue to improve, taking more control of their own country

Goals not deadlines. It's a good theory.

President Bush's objective of turning over most of Iraq to Iraqi troops by the end of the year appears achievable given recent progress in training new security forces, but even if he meets the goal it would not necessarily mean that the end of the war would be in sight, military analysts said yesterday.

In an effort to turn the war over to Iraqis, the U.S. military has increasingly been shifting territory to local forces in recent weeks, tripling what officers call "Iraqi-owned battle space" since the beginning of the year. Baghdad has largely been transferred to Iraqi forces, along with swaths to the east of the capital and disputed areas around the northern city of Mosul.

Iraqis are now putting their own lives on the frontlines for their country and God bless them for it. Democrats of course still say the glass is half empty...

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a critic of the administration's approach, challenged the validity of using territory to measure success. "Controlling terrain doesn't imply that you're rooting out the insurgency," he said in an interview. "You can control some of the terrain, but the insurgents still operate. That's essentially what's happening today."

No shit, sherlock. Did you come up with that one all by yourself? Controlling the terrain means they're the first repsonders, and involved in solo and joint anti-insurgent operations with coalition forces. Of course they're rooting out terrorists. Are there still terrorists there? Duh. It's Islam's #1 export so of course there are still insurgents in territories controlled by Iraqi forces. But something tells me the Iraqi forces aren't just sitting there twiddling their thumbs.

[...] Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the larger problem is that Iraqi security forces are dominated by Shiites, and assigning them territory would only increase the prospect of civil war. "It represents a misreading of the nature of the problem," he said. "When we make these forces stronger, we make the underlying problem worse, not better. We're throwing gas on the political fire."

James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, disagreed. He said Bush is setting a rational goal aimed at establishing a working government. "You shouldn't make promises you can't keep," he said. "I think the president is making a promise he can keep. He's not promising to kill every terrorist in Iraq. He's not promising to make it Switzerland. He's promising to create a military . . . that can support the government and keep the country from falling into civil war."

Carafano, thank you. Finally a little common sense. Things are going to be tough for a long time in Iraq with a small but violent minority (aka terrorists) trying to disrupt a people and a government that want to move on to a bright, peaceful, and prosperous future.