The person in charge of executing Bush’s escalation plan in Iraq is Gen. David H. Petraeus. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Petraeus “agrees with ‘surge’ advocates.” And he’s highly regarded by many. But in Iraq, his judgment has proven completely wrong before. Here is what Petraeus had to say about the Iraqi security forces in September 2004:
[T]here are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.
Most important, Iraqi security forces are in the fight — so much so that they are suffering substantial casualties as they take on more and more of the burdens to achieve security in their country.
[T]here is no shortage of qualified recruits volunteering to join Iraqi security forces. In the past couple of months, more than 7,500 Iraqi men have signed up for the army and are preparing to report for basic training to fill out the final nine battalions of the Iraqi regular army. Some 3,500 new police recruits just reported for training in various locations.
Of course, the column has the usual caveats: “There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way.” But the conclusion of the column is clear: “Iraq’s security forces are…developing steadily and they are in the fight…this trend will continue.”
In fact the trend has not continued. Iraqi security forces have been infiltrated by insurgents and many have walked off the job “due to scheduled leave, absence without leave, and attrition.” Nealy two-and-a-half years later, U.S. troops are still bearing the responsibility of providing security in Iraq.