Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pentagon: Iraqi forces backslide on lead role

A convoy of U.S. vehicles leave the forward operating base Loyalty for a mission in Baghdad today. 4 U.S. troops later died after an I.E.D. struck the convoy.

WASHINGTON — Iraqi forces began taking a back seat in combat operations in Iraq last autumn, even before President Bush started deploying 21,500 more troops chiefly to spearhead a security crackdown in Baghdad, according to a new Pentagon report.

The report shows that Iraqi military units began assuming greater responsibility for operations in the earlier part of last year. But the trend has reversed. In October, U.S. forces were conducting 8% of the combat operations, while 72% were joint missions. By January, U.S. units were conducting 33% of the operations, and the percentage of joint operations had fallen to 59%.

In addition, the number of Iraqi army and other units in the lead has declined to 92 in February from 94 in November, while the number of U.S.-led missions has been increasing.

Read the rest at the LA Times