During the 2004 election, the President and his team talked endlessly about the countless battalions of Iraqi troops that were helping out the coalition in its counterinsurgency fight. On May 15 of last year, for example, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told Wolf Blitzer that "we now have 200,000 Iraqi security forces that are out there providing security in their country, and frankly, being killed themselves."But the Pentagon's supplemental budget bill, released yesterday, shows just how hollow those words were. In fact, the Defense Department now admits in a $5.7 billion request to train local troops, there are hardly any Iraqi forces that are able to put up a fight.
The Iraqi Interim and Transitional Governments, with Coalition assistance, have fielded over 90 battalions in order to provide security within Iraq during a period of an intense counterinsurgency campaign that was designed to suppress the development of democracy. All but one of these 90 battalions, however, are lightly equipped and armed, and have very limited mobility and sustainment capabilities. These limitations, coupled with a more resilient insurgency than anticipated when the Iraqi Security Forces were initially designed, have led the Prime Minister of Iraq to request forces that can participate in the "hard end" of the counterinsurgency, and to do so quickly. (Emphasis mine. And yeah, I caught the little Bushism, too.)