By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
June 27, 2007 – Strides have been made in building Iraq's security forces and increasing their responsibility, but more progress is needed, according to a new congressional report released today. The report, "Stand Up and Be Counted: The Continuing Challenge of Building the Iraqi Security Forces," follows an investigation by the House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
It reports that the $19 billion the United States has invested over the past four years to organize, train and equip Iraq's military and police forces "has yielded mixed results."
"Despite making significant progress in generating a sizeable national force, the Iraqi security forces have not developed as fast as the coalition planned and, as a result, are not yet ready to take full responsibility for their nation's security," the report states.
The report also notes various states of readiness within the Iraqi forces. It recognizes that "some units are willing and capable of engaging the enemy" while others, particularly the Iraqi Police Service, are less effective.
The report's findings track closely with those offered earlier this month by the U.S. general in charge of training those forces until turning over command of the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq on June 10.
Army Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee oversight subcommittee many Iraqi units, particularly in the Iraqi army, "have become increasingly proficient and have demonstrated both their improved capability and resolve in battle."
However, he acknowledged that both army and police units "have a lack of tactical staying power of sufficient capability to surge forces locally." They also suffer from shortages of leaders, he said.
The congressional report echoed Dempsey's recognition of the need for improved leadership and an indigenous logistics capability keys to independent, self-sustaining Iraqi security forces.
Bryan Whitman, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, reviewed with Pentagon reporters today some of the successes the Iraqi security forces have demonstrated.
Nine out of 10 Iraqi army division headquarters are in place, 31 of 36 Iraqi army brigade headquarters have been formed and 95 out of 112 battalions have security responsibilities in their respective areas.
"If you compare that today ... to October 2005, when there was only one division, four brigades and 23 battalions, I think it is reflective of progress," he said.
Army Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik is working to build on that progress as the new commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.
During the change of command ceremony June 10, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, acknowledged that much work needs to be done to ensure the Iraqi security forces are capable of protecting the Iraqi people.
But in working toward that goal, Petraeus called Dubik "precisely the right man for this position at this time."