The US Army is hastening efforts to hand over command of military posts to Iraqi forces after parliamentary elections that many hope will produce a more stable government and set the stage for US soldiers to begin going home.
Seventeen of the 109 former Iraqi bases used by coalition troops since the 2003 invasion have already been transferred to Iraqi command, while 30 have been shut down, Army officers say. The Pentagon is pushing for more in the coming months.
"Eventually they're all going to go," said Major John Calahan, executive officer of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade. "The ultimate plan is that we're going to have less presence in Iraq until finally we're gone."
Defense analysts caution it may not be a fast process. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made similar comments in Iraq this week, even as he said two Army brigades would not deploy to Iraq as planned. Commanders said that would cut US troop strength by 7,000, to around 130,000.
Despite the step-up in efforts to turn more security duties over to Iraqi units, Calahan said concerns linger over the readiness of those troops.
Some Iraqi forces have excelled and fought well alongside Americans, but other units have been hamstrung by weapons shortages and some have had their soldiers caught working with insurgents.
In some places, Iraqi troops have failed to report for duty, gotten caught with bomb-making materials or allowed insurgents to attack US convoys or other coalition soldiers by looking the other way, Americans say.
That reality has fueled an undercurrent of distrust for Iraqi soldiers.
"A lot of them want to do a good job, but then you have those who only show up for a paycheck," said Sergeant Paul Hare, 40, of Tucumcari, New Mexico, a Humvee gunner in the 101st Airborne's 33rd Cavalry Regiment. "I don't trust a one of them."
The plan for turning military posts over to Iraqis has been in place for months, but Army officers say the administration of US President George W. Bush has quickened the timeline.
14 GRIEVANCES: Australia’s values, democracy and sovereignty ‘are not up for trade,’ the prime minister said, after Beijing accused Canberra of poisoning bilateral relations Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not compromise national security and sovereignty, as Beijing ramped up its criticism of his government and warned it against making China an enemy. “Australia will always be ourselves,” Morrison said in a television interview yesterday with the Nine Network. “We will always set our own laws and our own rules according to our national interests — not at the behest of any other nation, whether that’s the US or China or anyone else.” A Chinese diplomat in Canberra gave a document to Australian media outlets outlining 14 grievances and accusing Canberra of “poisoning bilateral
For thousands of years, the dainty Fritillaria delavayi has grown slowly on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan mountains in China, producing a bright green flower after its fifth year. The conspicuous small plant has one deadly enemy: people, who harvest the flower for traditional Chinese medicine. As commercial harvesting has intensified, Fritillaria delavayi has vanished — by rapidly evolving to produce gray and brown leaves and flowers that cannot be so easily seen by pickers. Scientists have discovered that the color of the plant’s leaves has become more camouflaged — matching the background rocks on which they grow — in areas where
Hundreds of flights at one of China’s busiest airports were canceled yesterday as Shanghai raced to bring a local COVID-19 outbreak under control. Health officials have tested thousands of staff at Pudong International Airport since a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city was linked to several cargo handlers. China — where the virus first emerged late last year — has largely brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control through travel restrictions and lockdowns, but it is now battling a number of domestic outbreaks in different cities. Shanghai has reported seven local infections linked to the airport this month, with most cases found
On the morning of Oct. 23, a 56-year-old employee at West Japan Railway was inspecting trains when he encountered an Asian black bear just outside Tsuruga Station in Japan’s northwestern Fukui Prefecture. He escaped with just a scratch, but about 10 minutes later, the same bear fractured the leg of a worker at a nearby construction site. Four days before the incident, a male bear entered a four-story shopping center in neighboring Ishikawa Prefecture. The 1.3m-tall bear holed up in a storage room for 13 hours, until it was shot by a local hunting group. Between April and September, wild bears were spotted 13,670