Initial review of Iraq forces done; no decisions

 

Associated Press

Pentagon leaders are now reviewing the military's initial assessment of Iraq's security forces and it may be some time before decisions are made about what additional assistance the U.S. should provide as the Baghdad government battles Sunni insurgents.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has read the completed assessment. A Pentagon spokesman said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has received it but hadn't had a chance to review it yet.

Defense officials declined to detail the report, but Dempsey has said the frequent updates he has received describe an Iraqi force that is logistically challenged and would have a hard time going on the offensive against the Islamic State extremist group. And the infiltration of the Sunni insurgents into the Iraqi security forces further complicates any possible move to embed U.S. military advisers with Iraq units.

"There will be a matter of some time here as we work our way through what the assessment says," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said. "Everybody knows and shares a sense of urgency about what's going on in Iraq but it's more important to get this issue right than to get it quick. You can expect senior leaders here in the Pentagon to take the time they need to digest this material ... before recommendations can be made to the commander in chief and to the inter-agency about how to move forward."

There are about 210 U.S. troops in Iraq conducting the assessments and working in two joint operating centers — one in Baghdad and one in the north in Irbil.

The infiltration of militants into Iraqi security force units also makes it difficult to separate the insurgents from Sunnis who are not a threat, particularly if the U.S. considers whether to conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State, Dempsey said.

Kirby said the insider threat is "a consideration that we would obviously take steps to deal with" if the U.S. decides to take on the advisory role.

Asked about the potential for airstrikes, Hagel told reporters late last week that military and defense leaders were wrestling with a lot of questions before such a decision could be made.

"Where would you strike? When would you strike? Who would you strike? Once you start strikes, are you prepared to sustain strikes over a long period of time, or short period of time?" Hagel said.

U.S. officials worry that targeting Sunnis would only further erode relations between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, fueling a civil war. And they also suggest that even if the U.S. strikes an insurgent stronghold, the Iraq security forces in that region might not be capable of maintaining control of the area.

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FILE - This June 25, 2014, file photo shows a group of  immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas. The influx at the border is largely families with children or by minors traveling alone.

    2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.S.

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success

    A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation's immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it's time to see whether it can just do the basics.

  •  
FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 file photo, Donetsk's Alex Teixeira reacts after missing a chance to score against Manchester United during their Champions League group A soccer match between Manchester United and at Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England. Six South Americans - including Teixeira - have refused to return to Ukraine to play for their football club in Donetsk as conflict rages around the city, risking possible fines and suspensions for breach of contract.

    Shakhtar midfielder says players' lives at risk

    Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa says he and his fellow players who refused to return to the Ukrainian champion did so because the conflict in the country puts their lives at risk.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category