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Pentagon chief says U.S. training efforts in Iraq against IS "have far been slowed"

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Wednesday that U.S. training efforts in Iraqi security forces against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) had so far fallen short of what the U.S. military had expected.

"Of the 24,000 Iraqi security forces we had originally envisioned training at our four sites by this fall, we've only received enough recruits to be able to train about 7,000, in addition to 2,000 counterterrorism service personnel," Carter told a congressional hearing. "We simply haven't received enough recruits."

U.S. President Barack Obama's anti-IS strategy came under scrupulous scrutiny after the fall of the crucial Iraqi city of Ramadi last month. Training local forces, together with launching air raids, have long been touted by the Obama administration as the linchpin of the U.S. strategy against IS.

However, in a rare move earlier this month, Obama admitted that nine months into the U.S.-led coalition's campaign against the IS, there is not a complete strategy to combat the group.

"We don't yet have a complete strategy," Obama said at the end of a G-7 summit in Germany, adding that the United States still requires "commitment on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place."

"The details of that are not yet worked out," he said.

The admission came at a time when the White House was trying to downplay a stream of negative news coming out of Iraq, insisting that despite setbacks, Obama's anti-IS strategy was gaining progress.

IS fighters have been controlling Iraq's second largest city of Mosul since forcing out Iraqi forces positioned in the city last June. Last month, IS fighters took Ramadi, a provincial capital west of Baghdad without a fight, despite being outnumbered by local Iraqi security forces by 10 to 1.

After the incident, Carter blasted the Iraqis for showing "no will to fight."

Calling the fall of Ramadi "deeply disappointing," Carter said in his Wednesday's hearing that the United States re-evaluated its counter-IS strategy, which led to drawing-in of previously marginalized Sunni forces, as well as deployment of 450 U.S. personnel to Taqaddum, a Sunni territory within Iraq.

"As I've told Iraqi leaders, while the United States is open to supporting Iraq more than we already are, we must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government," Carter said.

Meanwhile, U.S. top general Martin Dempsey said during the same hearing that in terms of sending troops on the ground, while he was not aware of the Obama administration's long-term position, he did not recommend sending U.S. troops "simply to stiffen the spine of local forces."

"If their (Iraqi forces) spine is not stiffened by the threat of ISIL on their way of life, nothing we do is going to stiffen their spine," he said.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 18Jun15]

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War in Iraq
small logoThis document has been published on 19Jun15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.