It’s hard to be optimistic at all about Iraq, but folks on the ground do labor on, and thankfully so. Via the State Department :
Majority of Iraqi Police Trained, Equipped, General Says
(Iraqi army, police security forces, both national and local, called key to
Washington — Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have reached 92 percent of a
planned strength of 188,000 troops, the commander of the coalition’s
Civilian Police Assistant Training Team says.
The Iraqi police included in that total are 90 percent trained and 83
percent equipped, according to Major General Joe Peterson. The National
Police, which used to be called the Special Police, are 98 percent trained
and 92 percent equipped, he continued. Peterson briefed along with Army
Major General William Caldwell, spokesman for Multi-National Force – Iraq,
from Baghdad, Iraq, August 14 via videoconference to the Pentagon.
Also included under the Interior Ministry are Department of Border
Enforcement police, which are now 92 percent trained though just 56 percent
equipped, Peterson said. He explained that the border police lag because
resources have gone more to those forces in contested areas.
“[W]e estimate that all of this will be completed by December of this year
,” Peterson added. “So that’s all on track.”
In his opening remarks, General Caldwell said that the “Iraqi security
forces are the key to the success in this country, both the Iraqi army and
the police forces, both the national and the local. … that is a key
ingredient … for the coalition forces to draw down their presence.”
However, Caldwell continued, the military and police components are not
“It’s going to take the commitment of the Iraqi government through
governance, through economics and most importantly, the will and
determination of the Iraqi people themselves,” he said.
Caldwell noted that Baghdad needs long-term solutions, and that the
extremists there will be defeated neither easily nor quickly.
“Challenges will ensue, but efforts will march forward block by block,” he
According to Caldwell, what really matters is businesses reopening and
staying open, refurbishing the stalls in the marketplace section by
section, improving drainage, removing rubbish and allowing children on
summer break outside to ride bicycles and play. (See related article .)
Caldwell began the briefing by noting a series of explosions that occurred
August 13 on the Karrada peninsula at the Zaafaraniyah district. In spite
of speculation that the cause was a car bomb, he said, a U.S. explosive
ordnance disposal team examined the site and made a preliminary assessment
that an initial natural gas explosion led to subsequent explosions.
Further investigation is ongoing, Caldwell said, but available evidence so
far points to an internal gas explosion that set off a series of other
explosions at that location...