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Iran Press TV

US admits to failures in retaining Iraqi army, limiting militia role

Iran Press TV

Sun Jun 5, 2016 12:10AM

US military officials have admitted to failure of their efforts to "retrain and reunify" Iraq's regular army and generate enough combat units in a bid to limit the influence of locally-trained volunteer militia forces.

Citing unwillingness of Iraqis to join units under US instructions as well as resistance of "low-level Iraqi officers" to send units for American training, retired US Lieutenant General Mick Bednarek, who led the US military's training programs in Iraq from 2013 to 2015, said despite having 4,000 American military instructors in the war-torn country, they faced multiple challenges, Reuters reported Saturday.

"The Iraqi military's capacity hasn't improved that much – part of that is the continuing challenge of recruitment and retention," Bednarek said as quoted in the report, clearly aimed at undermining success of Iraqi military operations being conducted around Fallujah and elsewhere without reliance on any US advisory or training involvement.

In an apparent bid to justify near total failure of US military advisory and training mission in Iraq, the US general and other current and former military officials repeatedly alleged that Iraq's regular army were increasingly coming under the influence of "sectarian" militia forces, according to the report.

This is while Iraqi military authorities have attributed recent successes of their offensives against strongholds of Daesh terrorist forces across the country to the collaboration of locally recruited, multi-ethnic volunteer militia forces, many of whom had been affected by atrocities committed by the Takfiri militants.

Bednarek, however, pointed to the "US-trained" Iraqi Special Operation Forces, as "the most effective fighting force in the region," and acknowledged that their battlefield successes against Daesh forces in Baiji and Mosul came with support from what he described as "Shia [volunteer] militias."

The report also cites US officials as complaining that Iraqi forces in northern Salahuddin Province "is dominated" by a "Shia leader," identified as Abu Mehdi Mohandis, "who is well known to the US government" and "sanctioned by the US treasury for allegedly attacking US forces in 2009," without elaborating about the circumstances.

American authorities, the report adds, further allege that Iraq's Fifth Army Division in eastern Diyala Province "is considered to be under the dominance of the Badr group" with ties with Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Baghdad has officially requested neighboring Iran to share its military expertise and experience with Iraqi army forces in an advisory and training mission.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier Rasool Yahya has rejected US criticisms of the Iraqi army and denied that it was less effective than the Special Forces unit, the report added.

"We have troops who were able to retake land from Daesh," Yahya said as quoted in the report. "After the fall of Mosul [to Daesh forces], the Ministry of Defense's joint command has resupplied and retrained the Iraqi security forces."

The report did not mention that Iraqi military commanders and forces who collaborated with Daesh elements and facilitated the fall of vast territory to the terror force were also trained and equipped by US forces.

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