Monday, June 23, 2014

Iraq’s Military Seen as Unlikely to Turn the Tide

By ALISSA J. RUBIN and MICHAEL R. GORDON, NYT
JUNE 22, 2014

BAGHDAD — As Iraqi Army forces try to rally on the outskirts of Baghdad after two weeks of retreat, it has become increasingly clear to Western officials that the army will continue to suffer losses in its fight with Sunni militants and will not soon retake the ground it has ceded.

Recent assessments by Western officials and military experts indicate that about a quarter of Iraq’s military forces are “combat ineffective,” its air force is minuscule, morale among troops is low and its leadership suffers from widespread corruption.

As other nations consider whether to support military action in Iraq, their decision will hinge on the quality of Iraqi forces, which have proved far more ragged than expected given years of American training.

Even now, fighters with the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are consolidating their gains, extending their hold on Euphrates River valley towns, securing access routes between their bases in Syria and the front lines in Iraq, and pressuring other Sunni groups to fight with them.

(More here.)

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