Iraqi Troop Update
This report from USA Today about troop readiness sounds very optimistic:
“The U.S. military says 40% of Iraq’s combat battalions are effective enough to have taken the lead role in fighting the insurgency, a key measure for determining when U.S. forces can withdraw.
The U.S. military expects to complete the handover of responsibility to nearly all of Iraq’s army by the end of the year, meaning Iraq’s military will rely on U.S. troops primarily for logistical support and for providing airstrikes and heavy artillery. The main fighting will be conducted by Iraqis.
“When all Iraqi combat battalions own their own battle space, the map of Iraq will be covered,” said Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a military spokesman. Battle space refers to the area of responsibility assigned to a military unit.
Currently, 40 of Iraq’s 102 battalions have taken over security in the areas where they operate, Col. James Greer, chief of staff for the U.S. military command responsible for training Iraqi troops, said in an interview.”
Folks, if, and it would be a big, “if,” the Iraqis were able to take over the day to day policing of Iraq by the end of this year, it would be an enormous step forward. American casualties would plunge, we could bring large numbers of soldiers home, our image in Iraq would improve, and the terrorists would be forced to either give up or aim their attacks almost exclusively at Iraqis, which would make them even more unpopular in Iraq and throughout the Middle-East.
Whether the Iraqis will be as far along by the end of 2006 as they’re speculating in this article is hard to say, but either way, time is on our side. Whether it’s the end of 2006, mid-2007, or even the end of 2007, victory is almost inevitable at this point as long as the politicians at home don’t lose their nerve and keep the troops from finishing the job.