U.S. lawmakers got the chance to question the man who recently led the multi-national force in charge of training Iraq's new security and police forces. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey told lawmakers in a House subcommittee of numerous frustrations in logistical and other matters. VOA's Robert Raffaele has the story.
With almost daily insurgent attacks, Iraq's new security and police forces face difficult on-the-job training. The lack of adequate security has even led U.S. commanders to begin arming Sunni Arab groups once allied with groups linked to al-Qaida.
Tuesday on Capitol Hill, the man who oversaw the training of the Iraqi security and police forces for 22 months said Iraq's fledgling security forces simply are not ready to take control from U.S. troops.
"The scarcest resource we've got is not time, it's not money, it's leaders in Iraq,” says U.S. Army Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey. “We are running into a challenge of getting leaders into place that can turn the capacity we've provided into a capability. That's really the challenge."
General Dempsey said one big problem is local corruption.
“Police forces in the region are notably corrupt,” said Dempsey. “Police forces live locally, their families live locally, they don't really have a sense of nation, they have a sense of local community and all the influences that are brought to bear."
Another problem: computer databases that are not linked, and fail to provide up-to-date records. General Dempsey acknowledged that of some 188,000 Iraqi security forces trained by the U.S. as of last December, as many as seven to eight thousand are unaccounted for. He conceded there is no way of knowing how many of those Iraqis could now be attacking U.S. troops. General Dempsey said he believes Iraq's national forces will be capable of taking charge of security soon, but he said local forces are not up to the task.
"The Kurdish region is stable, the deep Shia south is stable, al-Anbar is looking promising, but Baghdad, Diyala, Salahuddin, and At-Ta'mim, which is the faultline, they're not stable and the local police are not effective there."
General Dempsey said he is encouraged by what he is says is the Iraqi people's expressed desire to take over security. But he warned that time may be running out.
"I heard General Abizaid say three years ago, that there would undoubtedly at some point in this mission be a point of descending consent -- where the population would either want to be completely in control of their own destinies or begin to blame us for the failures of their government. And I think we have to be alert for that point. I don't think we're there yet, but we certainly need to keep our eye on that."