The front page of today's edition of Stars & Stripes (online edition) provides some interesting reading. It could, however, get a bit confusing.
In this story we read of how US Marines are working a strategy in Anbar province intended to gradually wean the Iraqi army and police from dependence on US military forces.
... Many Army officers are planning for declining troop levels and closing bases, in part because they do not want the Iraqi government and security forces to become too reliant on American assistance.So what's happening is that the Marines are running a campaign, on foot, to clear out the insurgency. And the reason is so that they can eventually turn the whole security effort over to the newly trained Iraqi army and police.
But the Marines say their fight in Anbar is still fierce and the Iraqis’ training remains limited, making the current, aggressive approach the best option.
“It doesn’t foster dependency, it allows them to ride with some training wheels before you totally let go,” said Lt. Col Larry White, who heads a civil military operations office in Al Qaim.
“The Iraqi police and the Iraqi army cannot take the lead if they are getting whacked every day.”
Then, there's this story from the same front page. Apparently, it isn't the insurgency that is causing grief among the Iraqi troops in Anbar province.
Iraqi soldiers in Al Anbar province are leaving their army in droves, draining much-needed manpower from fledgling Iraqi security forces and preventing U.S. troops from reducing troop strength in the volatile region, U.S. and Iraqi military officials say.That kind of runs at odds with this statement from The Decider.
Lousy living conditions, bad food and failure to receive regular pay are the main reasons behind the exodus, which is running at least several hundred soldiers a month, the officials say.
“Many of my soldiers have not gotten paid in six months. Sometimes, they don’t eat for two or three days at a time. I tell my commander, but what else am I supposed to do?” said Lt. Moktat Uosef, a 29-year-old Iraqi army company commander based in Husaybah.
Uosef’s brigade is one of the most troubled. The 4th Brigade of the 7th Iraqi Army Division has lost nearly half its soldiers during the past six months, dropping from 2,200 troops in December to fewer than 1,400 in May, according to Marines who work with the Iraqi unit.
In Haditha, the Iraqi army brigade has been losing about 100 soldiers a month, dropping from more than 2,000 at the beginning of the year to fewer than 1,600 in May, Marines said.
And we're making progress when it comes to training the troops. More and more Iraqis are taking the fight.Hmmm. Stars & Stripes sure doesn't see it that way. In fact, the Marines on the ground, depending on which S&S story you read, don't see it that way. In fact, nobody really sees it that way.
Finally, there is this notice splattered across the front page of S&S online.
That's northern Iraq.
Things seem to be going well all over.