A Significant Assessment Discrepancy
On September 29, 2005, the senior military commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the number of Iraqi battalions that could fight without U.S. support had dwindled from three to one.
The President's statement that 100 battalions are operational in Iraq does not directly contradict General Casey's testimony: there could very well be 100 Iraqi battalions in existence, while only one of them is capable of engaging in operations unsupported by Coalition forces. However, the President's descriptions of "increasing... capability" and "increasing effectiveness" of federal Iraqi forces are directly at odds with the military officer's testimony that the number of self-sufficient battalions had diminished by two-thirds.
Through misinformation or deliberate misrepresentation, either the general or the President is wrong. It is also possible that both men are wrong. In any event, either the Senate, the American people, or both have been misled with respect to the situation on the ground in Iraq with respect to the ability of the Iraqi military to function without occupation troops providing command, control, and firepower in routine and battlefield operations.
If the President is correct, then it is only a matter of time before Coalition forces can begin a tiered, well-ordered withdrawal from Iraq. If the general is correct, any such withdrawal will be attended by the implosion of what little military structure exists for the federal state of Iraq, leaving the nation to the mercies of both the powerful forces pulling the country apart from within and the powerful forces of bordering nations waiting to carve up the nation from without.
The Dark Wraith leaves it to astute observers to determine whether President Bush or Gen. Casey is better informed.