Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Arming Iraqi Street Gangs

The Surge is Working! The Surge is Working!

There is growing concern that local militias now allied with the U.S. are turning their guns on each other as the U.S. prepares to pull back its presence. These groups have been tasked with pacifying some of the most restive corners of Iraq - contributing to the measure of stability enjoyed by the country in the last few months. "We're paying them and training them so they're effective," says Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, of America's new partners, many of whom are former insurgents. But there are signs that these groups, called Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs) by the U.S. military, are already turning on each other in competition for territory. "There is some inter-militia fighting," said John Jones, State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team leader for Diyala province.

Jones, who was visiting Washington last month, says that the fighting has "by and large" not entangled coalition forces in hostilities. But what concerns officials is how to keep the CLCs in line as the U.S. presence recedes.
These concerns find light of day right on the heels of this announcement from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, that Bush and his failed policy have taxed our military beyond reasonable limits.
"The well is deep, but it is not infinite," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired."

Mullen's stern warning swiftly became political fodder for anti-war Democrats, who want legislation requiring that troops start coming home from Iraq immediately. Democrats also want legislation that would require soldiers and Marines spend more time at home between combat tours. The Pentagon objects to both proposals, contending it would tie the hands of military commanders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Mullen's testimony "confirms our warning that the war in Iraq has seriously undermined our nation's military strength and readiness, and therefore our national security."
We have spent billions purchasing a temporary security with local insurgents, over-burdened our military with chasing violence from one Iraqi province to the next without political headway being made by Iraqi leadership, and now we are faced with a forced withdrawal of troops as, quite simply, our military resources run out, all while we continue posturing with Iran, the country we are positioned to most influence to create real stability in the region, and doggedly refusing to acknowledge our continued presence does nothing but put our soldiers at risk.

Ingenious. What will he think of next?

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