Friday, April 25, 2008

Other Items

The U.S. military does not have an accurate tally of the number of Iraqi security forces who have been trained or who are present for duty, according to an oversight agency's analysis of Pentagon reports that was released Thursday.
The study says some Iraqi soldiers and police who were killed or wounded in action remain on the payroll so their families can receive financial compensation, skewing the statistics. The study was done by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Reinforcing earlier findings, Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and other officials said the data being provided to the U.S. military were inaccurate.
Reinforcing earlier findings, Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and other officials said the data being provided to the U.S. military were inaccurate."If you say you have 10 people ready to fight but three are injured or killed, you don't have 10 people ready, you have seven," said Kristine R. Belisle, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. "So it is a very misguided and misleading number."

The above is from Julian E. Barnes' "Data on Iraqi forces unreliable, study finds" (Los Angeles Times) which notes, PDF format warning, the report is available here. On the same topic, from William H. McMichael's "IG: Dead count toward Iraq force strength" (Army Times):

Some of the troops on the rolls of the Iraqi Security Forces aren’t reporting for duty.
That is because they're dead.
And thousands of others counted as present for duty are not showing up for work because they’re injured, on leave or absent without leave, according to a new audit of the Pentagon's most recent quarterly report on Iraq by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a temporary federal agency created by Congress to provide oversight of U.S. dollars spent for Iraqi relief and rebuilding.
All told, the review of the March report and earlier quarterly reports on Iraq indicates, the IG said, "uncertainty about the number of Iraqi personnel who are present for duty at any one time [and] uncertainty about the capabilities of the police force because the police have greater capacity to recruit than to train." The latter limits the number of police on the rolls who have been trained, the IG said.
"The number of assigned and trained personnel presented in the [quarterly] reports does not present a complete picture of force capabilities," the IG said.

If you're not grasping why it matters consider the snow job earlier this month. Gen David Petraeus testified to Congress. What was one of his selling points? The numbers, the Iraqi security forces numbers! April 8th, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

A number of factors have contributed to the progress that has been made. First, of course, has been the impact of increased numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Forces. You are well aware of the U.S. surge. Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.
[. . .]
A second factor has been the employment of Coalition and Iraqi Forces have grown significantly since September, and over 540,000 individuals now serve
in the Iraqi Security Forces. The number of combat battalions capable of taking the lead in operations, albeit with some Coalition support, has grown to well over 100 [Slide 10]. These units are bearing an increasing share of the burden, as evidenced by the fact that Iraqi Security Force losses have recently been three times our own. We will, of course, conduct careful after action reviews with our Iraqi partners in the wake of recent operations, as there were units and
leaders found wanting in some cases, and some of our assessments may be downgraded as a result. Nonetheless, the performance of many units was solid, especially once they got their footing and gained a degree of confidence, and certain Iraqi elements proved quite capable.
Underpinning the advances of the past year have been improvements in Iraq’s security institutions. An increasingly robust Iraqi-run training base enabled the Iraqi Security Forces to grow by over 133,000 soldiers and police over the past 16 months. And the still-expanding training base is expected to generate an additional 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and 16 Army and Special Operations battalions throughout the rest of 2008, along with over 23,000 police and 8 National Police battalions.

Actually, he gave that song and dance at every committee hearing (the 7 page prepared statement, read word for word, over and over) except the US House Committee On Foreign Affairs where chair Howard Berman noted at the start of the afternoon hearing, "Our witnesses are in the home stretch of a congressional testimony marathon; to some, this hearing may even seem like the fourth time around an endless loop. That's why we are asking both Ambarassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus more or less to summarize the main points of their testimony, at their discretion, a report to Congress that has been heard once in the House and twice in the Senate already. This way, we'll move along more quickly to the questions posed by members of the committee." Petraeus' claims depend upon the numbers being correct and, it turns out, they weren't.

Marci notes Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: The Tide is Turning" (

Today on the Trail: Hillary highlights policies for veterans at "Solutions For America" events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. Hillary will be joined on the campaign trail by American hero and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Hugh Shelton, Ret.
$$$: USA Today reports "One day makes $10 million difference for Clinton." Keep going to Read more.
Superdelegate Watch: Congressman John Tanner announced his support of Hillary: "in my opinion, the best person to lead this critical effort is Hillary Clinton...Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces" Read more.
"No Brainer" OH Gov. Ted Strickland said on a conference call yesterday: "This is for me a no-brainer...If we're going to plan to win in November, we need to choose the candidate that has the greatest strength in the states that are necessary to get us the electoral votes we need...I hope the superdelegates are paying attention." On the same call, NY Gov. David Paterson said "I don't think the tide is turning, I think the tide has turned.
Read more and more.
Sen. Obama Calls Debates a "Game:" The Indianapolis Star is calling on Sen. Obama to accept an invitation to debate Hillary in the Hoosier State....In OR, Clinton "proposed two debates, including one on the challenges facing rural Oregonians." Sen. Obama responded "call[ing] Clinton’s challenge 'an old, Washington game.'" Since when did debating the issues and giving voters a choice become a "game?"
Read more and more. Watch the challenge here.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Yesterday in Indianapolis, Hillary said: "This campaign for me in Indiana is about jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs…This is not about speeches. It is about solutions."
Read more.
Oregon Compact: Yesterday, Hillary "issued the most detailed, on-paper description to date from any of the presidential candidates on their intentions for Oregon. The 13-page document gave specific descriptions of how she intended to deal with each issue." Read more.
Montana Momentum: "Montana for Hillary announced the endorsements of seven more Montana legislators, leaders and Democratic activists, demonstrating [Hillary’s] growing support throughout Montana."
Read more.

Trina notes Paul Krugman's "Self-Inflicted Confusion" (New York Times):

Let me offer an alternative suggestion: maybe his transformational campaign isn't winning over working-class voters because transformation isn’t what they’re looking for.
From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama's soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that "we are the ones we’ve been waiting for" (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama's eloquence does not.
Yes, I know that there are lots of policy proposals on the Obama campaign's Web site. But addressing the real concerns of working Americans isn’t the campaign’s central theme.
Tellingly, the Obama campaign has put far more energy into attacking Mrs. Clinton’s health care proposals than it has into promoting the idea of universal coverage.
During the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary fight, the Obama campaign ran a TV ad repeating the dishonest charge that the Clinton plan would force people to buy health insurance they can't afford. It was as negative as any ad that Mrs. Clinton has run -- but perhaps more important, it was fear-mongering aimed at people who don’t think they need insurance, rather than reassurance for families who are trying to get coverage or are afraid of losing it.
No wonder, then, that older Democrats continue to favor Mrs. Clinton.
The question Democrats, both inside and outside the Obama campaign, should be asking themselves is this: now that the magic has dissipated, what is the campaign about? More generally, what are the Democrats for in this election?

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