Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pentagon Math Lesson

Over at the Political Animal, Kevin Drum tries to figure out how to do the math on Iraqi military readiness.
Four months ago the Pentagon reported that the number of "level one" Iraqi battalions had dropped from three to one. On Friday they reported that although that number has now dropped to zero, 53 battalions are at level two, up from 36 in October. There's reason to be skeptical that this is good news, though. Note the definitions:

"Level one" means the battalion is able to fight on its own; "level two" means it requires support from U.S. troops; and "level three" means it must fight alongside U.S. troops.
The real training issue here may be that, as there is no real Iraqi state, there may not be a real Iraqi army. In fact, we may simple be insuring a higher level of military skill for Iraq's religious militias.
...given the fact that Iraqi troops appear to be mostly private armies run by local theocrats anyway, you have to half wonder if all this training is even doing any good. Are we just guaranteeing a more efficient civil war?
Good question. We are leaving our troops in harms way, while asking them to train the troops who are going to help insure the lethality of Iraq's civil war.