This is odd:
The U.S. will fall way short of meeting its goal of training 24,000 Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State militants by this fall, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday in Congress where lawmakers are already skeptical of the Obama administration's strategy to address threats in the Mideast.
Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that the U.S. has received only enough recruits to train about 7,000 — in addition to about 2,000 counterterrorism service personnel.
"Our training efforts in Iraq have thus far been slowed by a lack of trainees. We simply haven't received enough recruits," Carter said at a nearly three-hour hearing.
It is my understanding that we were retraining existing Iraqi units. That's why, nine months ago, we assessed their units (finding about half of the existing brigades were trainable--the rest were too far gone in sectarian rabblehood to bother with) before starting training.
I can see that recruits could be needed to fill out understrength units or expand the brigades by using some of the existing units for cadres to add line units to those brigades. But the retraining effort isn't a matter of finding new recruits for a new army. It is a matter of the Iraqi government issuing orders to existing units to go through our (including our allies) training programs.
Consider also that if we really had underutilized training teams, why would we add more troops to Iraq--which our president really doesn't want to do--rather than just use some of our existing troops who are standing around with nothing to do because we can't get recruits?
So this makes no sense. I simply cannot believe that after all this time we haven't been able to get the training program going.
I'm a suspicious sort. So rather than assume this is a reason to condemn the ineptitude of an Obama administration effort, I'll assume that we are basically on track with our training program of existing Iraqi units. It may be narrowly true that we are short of new recruits but that is irrelevant.
I think this is misinformation designed to make it look like we are far when we are actually near.
UPDATE: I will say that if my interpretation is right, President Obama may have taken a political hit to help along the disinformation.
Of course, the simpler explanation is that we really are screwing this up. But I'll continue to hope. I'm an optimist that way.
UPDATE: Related news:
NATO is expected to announce soon a plan to advise the Iraqi government on reforming its security forces which are fighting back after collapsing in the face of an offensive by Islamic State fighters, NATO diplomats said on Tuesday.
Note that this is to reform the organization of the existing security forces and train officers--not recruiting from scratch. Why would our training program be different in focus?