C&Ler Gregory sent me this article and at first, I thought that this wasn't a lot of new information. But then it dawned on me: this is the MILITARY TIMES acknowledging just how bleak the situation is. There's no point in polishing it up anymore. And further, if they are conceding this much without fear of "lowering morale", how much worse is reality?
McCaffrey, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who retired in 1996 as head of U.S. Southern Command and then served as President Bill Clinton's drug czar, wrote the eight-page memo based on a March 9-16 trip to Iraq and Kuwait. The memo lists over 65 U.S. and allied officials that McCaffrey talked to during his trip. They include Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of Multi-National Forces - Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who commands Multi-National Corps - Iraq, as well as virtually every other senior U.S. or allied military figure there.
His view that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war is at odds with that expressed by incoming U.S. Central Command chief Adm. William Fallon, who told CNN March 27 that he didn't think Iraq was in a civil war.
Three million Iraqis, including many of the country's educated elite, have fled the country, McCaffrey notes.
In the land they left behind, the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged," writes McCaffrey. "It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.
"There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation - not health care, not justice, not education, not transportation, not labor and commerce, not electricity, not oil production. There is no province in the country in which the government has dominance .... No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi - without heavily armed protection."
The Iraqi security forces are in poor shape, according to McCaffrey. "The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings," he writes. "The Iraqi Army is too small [and] very badly equipped." The army "is also unduly dominated by the Shia, and in many battalions lacks discipline," writes McCaffrey, adding that the high rates of desertion and absence without leave "frequently leave Iraqi army battalions at 50 percent strength or less."
In contrast, the number of insurgent and sectarian militia forces likely exceeds 100,000, McCaffrey writes. "These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted" Iraq security forces, he adds.
McCaffrey notes that although the U.S. and its allies have arrested 120,000 insurgents (including 27,000 still in custody) and killed "some huge number of enemy combatants" that he estimates at "perhaps" over 20,000, "the armed insurgents, militias, and al-Qaida in Iraq without fail apparently regenerate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up - not down - as they incur these staggering battle losses."
The retired four-star then warns of a looming disaster for the U.S. military if current trends are not reversed.