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Stinging Pentagon Assessment Casts Shadow Over PM Visit

Ron Mark MP

Spokesperson for Defence
8 OCTOBER 2015

Stinging Pentagon Assessment Casts Shadow Over PM Visit

While New Zealand Army personnel are doing their best, the Pentagon has slammed the Iraqi Government and quality of “elite” counterattack brigades now under training, says New Zealand First.

“In the week before the Prime Minister went to Taji, the United States Pentagon released a no-holes barred assessment of its mission to put fight back into the Iraqi Army,” says, New Zealand First Deputy Leader and Defence Spokesperson Ron Mark, who has six years’ experience of peacekeeping and peacemaking in the Middle East.

“First, there clearly is a follow-on mission in Iraq because the Pentagon says miscommunication about this mission is causing issues between trainers and command. The Prime Minister may adamantly say no now, but he is also a serial flip-flopper.

“The Pentagon’s Inspector-General questions the effectiveness of an Iraqi Army stating: ‘Some Popular Mobilisation Forces [militias] are reportedly better equipped than the IA [Iraqi Army], which likely has a detrimental effect on recruitment and retention in the IA’.

“This is not helped by incomplete equipment and an Iraqi Army which refuses to tell those trying to train and help it, what it is holding in warehouses.

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“Then you get to recruit accommodation. One Iraqi commander says this is probably the greatest contributor to soldiers going AWOL. At Taji, for instance, Iraqi Army officers will not turn on the power or water supposedly because of ‘funding’ issues.

“General Petraeus’ former executive officer, Colonel Peter Mansoor, adds that since Ramadai fell: ‘I don't think there is any stomach [of the Iraqi army] to retake Ramadi right now and suffer the kind of causalities that such a battle would incur’.

“Others say that while the Iraqi army may be able to clear an area, they don’t have the manpower or will to hold it. Desertions are rife and it spoke volumes that Mr Key had to be flown to visit his Iraqi counterpart because the roads were too dangerous.

“Our people are training the ‘elite’ of the Iraqi Army being its counterattack brigades. Only when the Iraq’s army shows the spine to go out and successfully kill the bad guys on its own initiative, will confidence return to the civilian population that Iraq has a future,” says Mr Mark.


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