U.S. Ending Iraqi Police-Training Program

by Nathaniel Botwinick

The State Department is preparing to end its police-training program in Iraq after less than a year. According to State Department officials and Iraqis, the initiative was a failure almost from the start, but America still spent half a billion dollars on it:

What was originally envisioned as a training cadre of about 350 American law enforcement officers was quickly scaled back to 190 and then to 100. The latest restructuring calls for 50 advisers, but most experts and even some State Department officials say even they may be withdrawn by the end of this year.

The training effort, which began in October and has already cost $500 million, was conceived of as the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan. Instead, it has emerged as the latest high-profile example of the waning American influence here following the military withdrawal, and it reflects a costly miscalculation on the part of American officials, who did not count on the Iraqi government to assert its sovereignty so aggressively.

Retired Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, now a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, who oversaw the training of Iraqi security forces from 2007 to 2008, said, “The evidence suggests that the State Department never really engaged the Iraqis to find out what they need and what they want.”

The program has consistently been challenged by the special inspector general’s office, which in an audit late last year warned that it could become a “bottomless pit” for taxpayer dollars. The office’s most recent quarterly report, released at the end of April, stated that embassy officials acknowledged “that those challenges may lead to the further restructuring” of the program “in the near future.”

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