One half of Iraqi army incapable of facing ISIS: Dempsey
In addition to his congressional testimony yesterday about US ground troops probably being needed in Iraq, General Dempsey gave a shocking analysis of the capaibilities of the 500,000 man strong Iraqi army.
About half of Iraq's army is incapable of partnering effectively with the U.S. to roll back the Islamic State group's territorial gains in western and northern Iraq, and the other half needs to be partially rebuilt with U.S. training and additional equipment, the top U.S. military officer said Wednesday.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former wartime commander of U.S. training programs in Iraq, said a renewed U.S. training effort might revive the issue of gaining legal immunity from Iraqi prosecution for those U.S. troops who are training the Iraqis. The previous Iraqi government refused to grant immunity for U.S. troops who might have remained as trainers after the U.S. military mission ended in December 2011.
"There will likely be a discussion with the new Iraqi government, as there was with the last one, about whether we need to have" Iraqi lawmakers approve new U.S. training, he said. He didn't describe the full extent of such training but said it would be limited and he believed Iraq would endorse it.
"This is about training them in protected locations and then enabling them" with unique U.S. capabilities such as intelligence, aerial surveillance and air power, as well as U.S. advisers, so they can "fight the fight" required to push the Islamic State militants back into Syria, Dempsey said. He spoke with a small group of reporters traveling with him to Paris to meet with his French counterpart to discuss cooperation in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and other issues.
Dempsey said U.S. military teams that spent much of the summer in Iraq assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi security forces concluded that 26 of 50 army brigades were capable partners for the U.S. He described them as well led and well equipped, adding, "They appear to have a national instinct, instead of a sectarian instinct." He said the 24 other brigades were too heavily weighted with Shiites to be part of a credible national force.
In other words, 24 brigades of the Iraqi army would be just as willing to kill their Sunni countrymen as they would ISIS terrorists. It makes you wonder what the Iraqi government - a Shiite dominated group - would think of sidelining their most loyal soldiers.
And then there are the 100,000 Shiite militiamen who have already committed at least one massacre. The militias were formed following the initial gains by ISIS in Iraq and have been a wild card in military operations. How will they take their downgrading in any new, US trained Iraqi army?
Dempsey's assessment only makes the probability of US ground troops being sent to Iraq more certain.