Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Litany of problems keep Iraqi army weak

Litany of problems keep Iraqi army weak: Iraq's leadership was indignant after US accusations that its forces lack the will to fight but assessments of the army's ability suggest the rank-and-file have reasons to shy from battle.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Sunday, a week after the loss of Ramadi to the Islamic State group, that there was "an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight".

The fall of the capital of Iraq's largest province to the jihadists saw a chaotic retreat of security forces and dealt Baghdad its worst blow in almost a year.

Carter's words were criticised in Iraq as insulting and divisive and US Vice President Joe Biden later had to call Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to acknowledge "the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past 18 months".

The problem is not whether Iraqi security forces are valiant enough but just about everything else, analysts said.

"The Iraqi forces that left Ramadi this weekend did so under great pressure and only as a last resort," said the Soufan Group intelligence consultancy in a recent brief.

"It is not bravery the forces lacked but weapons and leadership and rapid logistics," it said.