The Corner

Standing Up Iraqis

This LA Times piece (nod to Kevin Drum ) should be sobering to those who think handing off responsibilities to the Iraqis is around the corner. It’s about the less-than-stellar performance of  the Iraqi army’s 9th Mechanized Division. An excerpt:

“Fear took over” among the Iraqis, Staff Sgt. Michael Baxter said.

“They refused to move. We were yelling at them to move,” he said. “I grabbed one guy and shoved him into a building. I was saying, ‘God get me out of this, because these guys are going to get me killed.’ ”

The offensive was initially billed by U.S. officials in Baghdad as an Iraqi-led success and a case study in support of the Pentagon’s increasing reliance on using American troops as military advisors as a way to shift security responsibilities to Iraqi soldiers.

….But interviews at their joint Rustamiya base with U.S. advisors and Iraqi soldiers involved in Friday’s battle revealed a different story. The operation was hastily prepared and badly executed, they said, and plans to let the Iraqis take the lead in the battle were quickly scrapped.

“It started out that way,” [Staff Sgt. Michael] Baxter said. “But five minutes into it, we had to take over.”

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