(From the diaries -- kos
Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job.
And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves.
-- President George W. Bush, 9/30/04, first presidential debate
We count in total around 120,000 [Iraqi troops] now, but we're very aware that there are problems in the quality. One of the big problems is a tendency for soldiers to go AWOL and part of it's the problem that faces them.
-- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, January 19, 2005
Well, George and Paul are having some trouble with their math.
According to the UK Independent, the Pentagon has been covering up the real number of Iraqi troops trained.
More below the fold.
The title of the story says it all:
Pentagon covers up failure to train and recruit local security forces
Police and army numbers falling far short of projections as post-election violence surges and wait for results drags on
Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops, The Independent on Sunday has learned.
Instead, only figures for troops "on hand" are issued. The small number of soldiers, national guardsmen and police capable of operating against the country's bloody insurgency is concealed in an overall total of Iraqis in uniform, which includes raw recruits and police who have gone on duty after as little as three weeks' training. In some cases they have no weapons, body armour or even documents to show they are in the police.
The resulting confusion over numbers has allowed the US administration to claim that it is half-way to meeting the target of training almost 270,000 Iraqi forces, including around 52,000 troops and 135,000 Iraqi policemen. The reality, according to experts, is that there may be as few as 5,000 troops who could be considered combat ready.
And Senator Biden calls them on it:
The sleight of hand over troop numbers provoked a sharp clash during Condoleezza Rice's Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State. After she quoted Pentagon figures claiming 122,000 Iraqis had been trained, she was told by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden: "Time and again this administration has tried to leave the American people with the impression that Iraq has well over 100,000 fully trained, fully competent military police and personnel. And that is simply not true. We're months, probably years, away from reaching our target goal."
(The bold emphasis is mine.)
When will we get out of Iraq? The Pentagon reassures us that this is not another Vietnam, but can't give a timeline for withdrawal of our troops.