Saturday, July 28, 2007

General Dubik: Iraqi forces lacking experienced officers; Sectarianism still prevalent, but fighting is priority

Above: Iraqi Army soldiers rest during a clearing mission near Baqubah in June.

The biggest obstacle to building Iraqi security forces is finding leaders who are experienced and not bound by sectarian loyalties, a senior U.S. general told the Associated Press on Saturday. Lt. Gen. James Dubik said Iraq should get credit for assembling a mix of competent security forces in a relatively short time and under the pressures of constant combat. It was the first extensive interview Dubik has given since taking over last month as head of a U.S. command charged with training and equipping Iraqi forces. Iraq's security forces number about 360,000; the total is supposed to reach 390,00 by year's end.

While a serious problem, it is not stopping the Iraqis from becoming "good enough" to partner with U.S. troops in fighting the insurgency, Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik said Saturday.

"We still have very difficult problems with (Iraqi military unit) leaders - very difficult," Dubik said in his first extensive interview since taking command in June of training and equipping Iraqi forces.

Too few have the right level of experience and a nonsectarian attitude, he said. This shortcoming is evident even as tens of thousands of new soldiers and police join the security forces.

The first priority is to get as many soldiers into battle as quickly as possible, Dubik said.

Read the rest at the Guardian

Related Link:
Petraeus: September report to recommend continuing 'surge' through Summer 2008