A remarkable story in this morning’s Washington Post addresses a report released today from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The report details that the training of police forces in Iraq has been a failure:
Over the course of the eight-year-old war and military occupation, thousands of U.S. troops have spent considerable time and effort wooing and training police recruits, but Iraqi officials have often accused the United States of not providing much more than basic training.
In an August interview, Akeel Saeed, inspector general of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said that in the past, the U.S. military was too often “implementing what they wanted, without acknowledging what the Iraqis wanted.”
The article discloses that despite all of this basic “training” that the US has provided over the years, now that the program has been handed over to the State Department, they will use the bulk of their $887 million budget this year on private security contractors. That fact alone is all the proof we need that there is no confidence at all in Iraqi security forces, or there would be little to no need for the mercenaries:
But a government report set for release Monday found that the department is spending just 12 percent of money allocated for the program on advising Iraqi police officials, with the “vast preponderance” of funds going toward the security, transportation and medical support of the 115 police advisers hired for the program. When U.S. troops leave, thousands of private security guards are expected to provide protection for the thousands of diplomats and contractors set to stay behind. For security reasons, the State Department has declined to specify the cost and size of its anticipated security needs.
However, the SIGIR report (pdf) itself provides more background for understanding why such a large mercenary force is needed. First, the report documents the handing over of responsibility for police training to DoD back in 2004 [INL is the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs]: Continue reading