News

    Lawmakers Question US Official on Training of Iraqi Forces

    A U.S. official has faced tough questions from members of Congress about progress in training Iraqi military and police. State Department Iraq Policy Coordinator Richard Jones appeared Wednesday before the Middle East Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives which examined the situation in Iraq.

    The hearing took on more significance in the wake of President Bush's speech on Iraq on Tuesday.

    The president said the United States will remain in Iraq only as long as it takes to put it firmly on the road to democracy, and enable Iraqis to defend themselves against terrorists and insurgents, but also rejected any timetable for a U.S. pullout.

    Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the subcommittee, began by noting the progress achieved already in Iraq, including the election earlier this year and steps under way to draft a constitution.

    "Challenges remain, but democracy has taken root.  Today the Iraqi people remain engaged in a process that we all hope will result in a unified and democratic Iraq," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen says.

    But while many lawmakers agree Iraqis have taken important steps toward democracy, some believe the entire process is more vulnerable to failure because of problems in recruiting and training members of Iraq's new army and police force.

    Gary Ackerman is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

    "The insurgency I see is anything but in its last throes," he says. "The level of attacks has been sustained over time, and they are getting deadlier and they are getting more sophisticated.  I can only conclude that we are not succeeding against the insurgency, and that our plan for training Iraqi forces and turning the fight over to them is not working."

    Democratic and Republican lawmakers have complained that they are not getting a clear picture of how many Iraqi military and police have been trained, and more importantly how capable they are in day-to-day operations.

    Pressed on this question, State Department Iraq coordinator Richard Jones gives a figure of over 100 Iraqi battalions, but acknowledges that far fewer than that are actually "functional."

    However, he defended the U.S. strategy.

    "We have a plan for organizing them into battalions, for training them at ever-increasing levels, for forming those battalions into brigades, and brigades into divisions," Mr. Jones says. "And then the responsibility for securing the country will be distributed among eight or 10 Iraqi divisions and we will begin working with them to transfer responsibilities.  There is a schedule, there is a plan."

    Congressman Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat, wasn't satisfied with that answer, saying he does not see a clear plan and complained about confusing information from the Bush administration.

    "We continue to get conflicting information from the administration, some of which we can't even talk about because it is given to us in classified materials," Mr. Cardoza says. "But I will tell you that the information that we receive often times doesn't [agree] from one administrative agency to another.

    In Wednesday's hearing, State Department official Richard Jones also discussed the coming trials of Saddam Hussein and other former officials of his regime.

    He says the trials, for which preparations have been detailed and intense, should be a matter of pride for the Iraqi people, and that confirmation of the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime could help to blunt the insurgency in Iraq.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.