A report prepared by U.S. personnel in Iraq concludes that almost half of Iraqi military units are in such poor shape that sending American advisers to work with them would be a waste of time—and that many units have been infiltrated by extremists or allies of Iran who could threaten those advisers' safety. On the flip side, officials say, not maintaining a U.S. presence in Iraq would likely end up ceding power in the country to both Iran and ISIS. From the New York Times:
At the center of the administration debate is whether to send more military advisers, weaponry and surveillance systems — and, if so, in what numbers, at what cost and at what levels of risk — to a country that American combat troops left in 2011, but that now teeters on the brink of collapse....
As ISIS advanced across northern and western Iraq, six teams of American Special Operations forces were rushed in to assess an Iraqi Army that was trained and equipped by the United States at a cost of more than $25 billion, but which experienced a drop-off in training after the American withdrawal and has been greatly handicapped by Mr. Maliki’s push to appoint commanders based more on political loyalty than military skill.
Left to its own devices, the report says, Iraqi forces could "defend" but not necessarily "hold" all of Baghdad. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that the Iraqis are not equipped to take back any of the territory seized by ISIS.
Said one senior Obama administration official to the Times: "It's a mess."
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