The NY Times has printed a memo from a military adviser in Baghdad named Col Timothy Reese. To say that he is disillusioned with the Iraqi government and security forces is an understatement. His memo contains a laundry list of actual problems, complaints and bitches that create, in his mind, a compelling need for us to un-ass the country. The majority of shortcomings he mentions are almost certainly accurate, but they could be stated about almost any country we work with absent a few (Brits, Canadians & Aussies).
a) Corruption among officers is widespread
b) Neglect and mistreatment of enlisted men is the norm
c) The unwillingness to accept a role for the NCO corps continues
d) Cronyism and nepotism are rampant in the assignment and promotion system
e) Laziness is endemic
f) Extreme centralization of C2 is the norm
g) Lack of initiative is legion
That would describe the military of just about every country I have been to and trained, and yet we still work with them because we have strategic reasons to do so. COL Reese details a number of purely political concerns that really fall well outside his lane.
1. The ineffectiveness and corruption of GOI Ministries is the stuff of legend.
2. The anti-corruption drive is little more than a campaign tool for Maliki
3. The GOI is failing to take rational steps to improve its electrical infrastructure and to improve their oil exploration, production and exports.
4. There is no progress towards resolving the Kirkuk situation.
5. Sunni Reconciliation is at best at a standstill and probably going backwards.
6. Sons of Iraq (SOI) or Sahwa transition to ISF and GOI civil service is not happening, and SOI monthly paydays continue to fall further behind.
7. The Kurdish situation continues to fester.
8. Political violence and intimidation is rampant in the civilian community as well as military and legal institutions.
So now he is Joe Biden's press flack? While I am sure the State Department and executive agencies actually tasked with dealing with these issues appreciate his cogent analysis, perhaps COL Reese ought to stick to military concerns. Amidst all of his caterwauling, and again I'm not saying that hs complaints don't have merit, but he fails to consider that one gargantuan reason for us to stay a bit is to avoid leaving a power vaccuum that would undoubtedly be filled by Iran. That means we have a huge incentive to put up with the endemic craptasticness of the nascent Iraqi institutions and work to form a long term strategic relationship. We need to be their number one ally or Iran will be and that would negate many of the security gains a free deomcratic Iraq represents. So suck it up sir, and drive on with your mission.