Bring Them Home Now

From Holden:

The Troops! are sick and tired and ready to come home.

A majority — 54% — of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report released Wednesday that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily on National Guard and reserve troops.


The report recommended that the Army reconsider whether National Guard and reserve support troops are getting adequate training in combat skills. Only 55% of National Guard support soldiers said they have “real confidence” in their unit’s ability to perform its mission, compared with 63% of active-duty Army support soldiers.

The report — dated Jan. 30 — was completed by a team of mental-health specialists sent to Iraq and Kuwait late last summer.

They are getting scant help from Iraqi security forces.

The Iraq Army and security forces have been assigned 20 percent of all counter-insurgency operations in the country.

U.S. officials said 35 battalion-size operations take place daily in Iraq. They said Iraqi security forces have been responsible for about 20 percent of these missions. The Iraq Army operates two brigades in the Baghdad area.

What help they do get is hardly competent.

About half of Iraq’s new police battalions are still being established and cannot conduct operations, while the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only “partially capable” of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, and only with American help, according to a newly declassified Pentagon assessment.

Only “a small number” of Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting the insurgency without American assistance, while about one-third of the army is capable of “planning, executing and sustaining counterinsurgency operations” with allied support, the analysis said.

The assessment, which has not been publicly released, is the most precise analysis of the Iraqis’ readiness levels that the military has provided. Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the 160,000 American-led allied troops cannot begin to withdraw until Iraqi troops are ready to take over security.


Iraqi and American commanders have set up a system that grades Iraqi military and special police units in six categories: personnel, command and control, training, equipping, ability to sustain forces, and leadership. Using these measurements, Iraqi battalions are graded on a scale of one (strongest) to four (weakest). The military is still devising measurements for regular police units.

Level 1 units are able to plan, execute and sustain independent counterinsurgency operations. By late last month, American commanders said, only 3 of the 107 military and paramilitary battalions had achieved that standard.


About a half of their police battalions are still being formed and are “not yet capable of conducting operations,” General Pace wrote.