Iraqi Police Ill-Equipped to Prevent Civil War

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today that Iraqis forces would “deal with” an all-out civil war in their country:

The plan is to prevent a civil war and to the extent one were to occur, to have the – from a security standpoint – have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to.

Rumsfeld ignores the fact that sectarian, rights-abusing Iraqi security forces are also part of the problem, and that the Bush administration bears some responsibility:

— As of March 2005 — two years into the war — the Pentagon had still not developed a “system to assess the readiness of Iraqi military and police forces so they [could] identify weaknesses and provide them with effective support.”

— U.S. advisors to Iraqi police unit “have been stretched thin” for “much of the last three years.” The L.A. Times reported today, “By the end of 2005 there were only 700 U.S. police trainers for an Iraqi police force of more than 100,000.

— As a result, U.S. advisors believe that the training of Iraqi forces “have skewed toward weapons handling and battlefield tactics and not dealt enough with human rights, investigations and administration.”

Iraqi forces should be taking the lead in restoring order, but as Rumsfeld knows, you put down civil wars with the security forces you have, not the ones you want.