22 July 2005 at 11:37:36 AM
Iraq Police Slain as Pentagon Admits Local Forces Unable to Cope
At least nine people, five of them policemen, were killed in Baghdad as authorities hunted for two kidnapped Algerian diplomats and the Pentagon acknowledged that only a small number of Iraqi security forces are ready to fight insurgents unaided.
Amid growing public concern and a US military death toll of 1,763, the US adminstration is keen to start reducing its 138,000-strong force in Iraq.
But President George W. Bush has refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal, saying only that US forces would stand down as Iraqi forces take over.
Iraqi security forces now number 171,500, but only a very few units are combat-ready, according to the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government faced an uphill task in trying to ensure parliament adopts a draft constitution by August 15, a key deadline in the US-inspired roadmap for transition to democracy, so as to hold a public vote on it October 15.
All 15 remaining Sunni members on the constitution drafting committee said Thursday they were temporarily withdrawing from the panel, in reaction to Tuesday's murder of two of their own
|Ahmed Salam, center, brother of the newlywed bride, foreground, requests to see his sister's body at the Yarmouk hospital after the wedding party was attacked by unknown gunmen Friday, July 22, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. Gunmen fired on the car carrying the newlyweds who were married on Wednesday and their families, killing the bride while wounding her mother, groom and driver in the southern Dora neighborhood, of Baghdad according to police and medical officials.(AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi) |
|Distraught Iraqi soldier CPT. Wsam Abdul Wahab, 24, lies in a hospital bed wounded after his wedding party was attacked by unknown gunmen killing his wife Saly Salam, 22, and wounding two others, Friday, July 22, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. Gunmen fired on the car carrying the newlyweds who were married on Wednesday and their families, killing the bride while wounding her mother, groom and driver in the southern Dora neighborhood, of Baghdad according to police and medical officials. At the time the image was made, Wahad did not know the fate of his wife.(AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi |
|The driver and friend of a wedding party, Marcel Ishaw lies in a hospital bed receiving treatments for wounds after the car he was driving was attacked by unknown gunmen Friday, July 22, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. Gunmen fired on the car carrying the newlyweds who were married on Wednesday and their families, killing the bride while wounding her mother, groom and driver in the southern Dora neighborhood, of Baghdad according to police and medical officials.(AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi) |
|Iraqi police stand outside the Al-Rafidain bank after a suicide bomber blew himself up, June 2005, in the northern city of Kirkuk. The Pentagon reported to Congress on its future military requirements and US troop rotations in Iraq along with an assessment of Iraqi security forces' readiness to replace them.(AFP/File/Marwan Ibrahim) |
The coffin of Ali Hussein accompanied by a portrait, who was one of ten killed from a suicide bomber's attack on a military recruitment center in Baghdad on Wednesday, is returned to his home town for funeral services in Najaf, 165 kms. (102 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, July 21, 2005. The suicide attacker detonated himself outside the recruiting center killing at least 10 people.(AP Photo/Alaa Al-Marjani)
Pentagon Wants to Raise the Maximum Recruit Age to 42
The request, sent to lawmakers this week, would apply to all active duty branches of the military services, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Friday. But it is aimed chiefly at the active duty Army, which has fallen far short of recruiting goals this year, by adding millions of potential enlistees.
Pentagon Refused to Release Information about Iraq Security Forces Readiness
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Rumsfeld was making a mistake by not publicly releasing the information about Iraqi security forces' readiness.
"By withholding this information from the public, the administration is denying Americans their right to know how much work remains to be done," Biden said. "The notion, as Secretary Rumsfeld suggested, that this information would somehow aid the enemy is absurd.
"No one is asking him to identify the location or name of Iraqi units in question. No one is asking him to comment on the morale of Iraqi troops. We are simply asking for an honest accounting of the level of troop readiness and capability not just the misleading number of Iraqis in uniform."
Pentagon officials said later that only three of the approximately 100 Iraqi army battalions are taking on the insurgents by themselves. About one-third is fully capable of operating against the insurgency, but only with U.S. support.
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