In his April 13 press conference, Bush lamented the poor showing of Iraqi security forces in recent clashes with insurgents. “I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops,” he said. “Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn’t. And we need to find out why. If they’re lacking in equipment, we’ll get them equipment. If there needs to be more intense training, we’ll get more intense training. But eventually, Iraq’s security is going to be handled by the Iraqi people themselves.”
Eventually? Over the past year, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has painted a different picture–of swift and steady progress in building an effective Iraqi security force that could soon take over many security responsibilities. In fact, there hasn’t been a single month in the past year that Rumsfeld hasn’t pointed to the success of a rapidly developing Iraqi security force as an indicator of the headway the United States has made in Iraq. Let’s roll the videotape.
May 20, 2003: “In Baghdad, some 4,500 Iraqi police are now on duty, and reports of looting, curfew violations and gunfire are now decreasing.”
June 27, 2003: “The Iraqi police force is being developed. The Iraqi army is being re-recruited.”
July 24, 2003: “With each step the Iraqi people take forward, the terrorists’ hopes of returning to power grow dimmer…. consider a few examples: The formation of the Iraqi national army has begun. 30,000 Iraqi police have been hired. An Iraqi civil defense corps is being formed.”
August 21, 2003 (in a briefing with Gen. John Abizaid, who said, “More than 50,000 Iraqis already under arms…are working in coordination with the coalition. We’ve got 35,000 people, for example, in the police forces. We’ve got a border force that’s forming. We’ve got Iraqi defense corps volunteers, over 2,300 of them that have come forward to form battalions to work with our divisions. We’ve got an awful lot of people that we’ve hired to defend infrastructure, somewhere close to 17,000.”): “This is in three and a half months…the 50,000 or 60,000 Iraqis that have been pulled together.”
September 26, 2003: “Within three months we have begun training a new Iraqi Army and within two months a new Iraqi police force was conducting joint patrols with coalition forces…. I know of no comparable experience in history–whether postwar Germany, postwar Japan, Kosovo and Bosnia–I know of no example where things have moved as rapidly.”
October 21, 2003: “…the coalition has trained some 85,000 Iraqi forces in just over five months: 55,000 police, 6,500 border guards, 18,700 are serving in the facilities protection service, a 700-man battalion in the new Iraqi Army, and 4,700 in the new Iraqi civil defense corps. And there are an additional 10,000, above the 85,000, that are currently in training for these various Iraqi security forces.”