One of the topics I seem to find myself posting on the most frequently is the remarkable lack of accountability for the spectacular failure of David Petraeus’ efforts to train the Iraqi security apparatus. Petraeus has repeatedly touted how wonderfully his training work went and yet whenever the failures of this training actually make it into corporate journalism, Petraeus’ name is nowhere to be found.
Such is the case again today. An article titled “U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police” appears on the front page of today’s New York Times and it shows, once again, that the tremendous amounts of money and effort that have gone into “training” in Iraq are a complete waste (and since training is shown to be a failure in this article, Petraeus’ name does not appear):
In the face of spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, the State Department has slashed — and may jettison entirely by the end of the year — a multibillion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission here.
But wait, this is the State Department. How did the effort get in their hands? It turns out that they started it originally, turned it over to Petraeus and then recently took it back:
Since 2003, the American government has spent nearly $8 billion training the Iraqi police. The program was first under the State Department, but it was transferred to the Department of Defense in 2004 as the insurgency intensified. Yet the force that the American military left behind was trained to fight a counterinsurgency, not to act as a traditional law enforcement organization. Police officers here, for example, do not pull over speeding drivers or respond to calls about cats stuck in trees.
Petraeus burst onto the scene politically in September of 2004, when he penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he praised himself for his wonderful work in training Iraqi security forces:
Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq’s security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight — and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Read more