"Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training. Now please step this way, as we provide you with our final test: an eye exam... "
Men in Black
(Editor's Note - A great job we did in "training" the Iraqi army. They did better in standing their ground under Saddam in the eight year long Iran-Iraq War.)
(McClatchy News) - The size of the Iraqi debacle in June is becoming increasingly clear:
Four Iraqi army divisions have simply disappeared and won’t be easily resurrected.
The 2nd Division was routed from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, on June 9 at the beginning of the Islamic State’s advance, and its four brigades have dissolved.
The 1st Division also is basically gone, losing two brigades in Anbar province earlier in the year, then two more during last month’s Islamic State onslaught, including one brigade that in the words of the senior Iraqi politician was “decimated” in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.
The same is true of Iraq’s 3rd Division. The division’s 6th and 9th Brigades fled the Islamic State’s advance in the north, and the status of its 11th Brigade is unknown. A small unit of its 10th Brigade is still in Tal Afar, but it is trapped by Islamic State forces.
The 4th Division also was routed. Half its members have disappeared - many suspect they were massacred when the Islamic State captured Tikrit - and only one small unit is known to still exist, surrounded by Islamists at a one-time U.S. military base near Tikrit known as Camp Speicher.
|Can we surrender now?|
The Iraqi media _ which has been ordered by the government to release only good news about operations in order to promote morale, with threats of prison for journalists who fail to spin events positively _ claims that an operation cleared the road between the key Iraqi city of Samarra and Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
But the effort in fact appears to have stalled 20 miles outside Tikrit. “It’s heavily contested and the army and militias can’t make headway,” the politician said. “There are too many explosive devices on the road.”
Even what passes for success reveals the limitations of the Iraqi military. Ammar Abdul Hussein, a soldier from the Iraqi army’s so-called SWAT Unit, perhaps the most highly trained unit in the field, said that the arrival of thousands of Shiite militiamen had secured Samarra, home to a revered Shiite shrine, from the Islamic State’s advance. But Hussein, who returned to Baghdad from Samarra a week ago after three weeks of heavy fighting, said he fears that the light weapons of the government-allied forces are no match for those that the Islamists possess.
“The problem is not the quantity, the problem is the quality. The heaviest weapon we have as SWAT is a BKC,” he said, referring to a medium machine gun. He also said the troops at Samarra are short of food and water.
“We actually never had food at all from the army or the government, and the only way we stayed alive is because of the big mosque in Samarra, and Shiite (charities) are helping us and provide food for us,” he said.
Some 52 155mm M198 howitzers that have apparently fallen into Islamic State hands. The guns, which cost more than $500,000 each, can fire two rounds every minute.
Among the weapons that fell to the Islamic State also were 4,000 PKC machine guns, a heavy belt-fed weapon that’s been standard for combat forces since the Vietnam War and can fire as many as 800 rounds a minute.
|"Kill the infidels. On to Baghdad"|