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Apr 29th, 2009

Costs Soar for Iraqi Military Training

Image: Bomb attack scene
Iraqi soldiers secure the site of a roadside bomb attack in Basra, southern Iraq, April 20, 2009. (Photo credit: Haider Al-Assadee / EPA)

April 28, 2009

BAGHDAD — Iraq is falling fall far behind schedule in creating a system to maintain its own military equipment, costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to fill in the gaps, according to a new U.S. audit.

The report highlights some of the fundamental worries among American commanders as they look past the U.S. military exit from Iraq at the end of 2011: Will Iraqi security forces be able to handle tasks as basic as keeping their vehicles on the road?

The U.S. has spent billions of dollars to develop Iraq’s security forces with an emphasis in recent years on Iraq’s maintenance and supply capabilities — seen as essential for the country to maintain a self-sufficient force after the lifeline from Washington is trimmed back.

It’s part of the Pentagon’s wide-ranging plans to train and upgrade Iraq security forces from street-level police units and rebuild Iraqi naval and air power.

But the audit — by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction — found a pattern of negligence and shortcomings by the Iraqi military in planning for the basic needs of the military: repairing and maintaining equipment and supplying troops. …

Ballooning costs

In one case, Iraqi soldiers abandoned a 90-day maintenance training class in March 2008 because they hadn’t been paid in weeks by their units. The report said the Iraqi army has not yet assigned other soldiers to take a class.

But the study, released Sunday, also faulted the U.S. military for setting unrealistic training timetables — saying it added $420.5 million to the costs.

Initially, the contract costs were put at about $208 million to train Iraqi soldiers in routine but critical roles that include repairing equipment, construction and running warehouse operations.

The audit says the contract has ballooned to more than $628 million in part because there was no clear blueprint for the programs, which led to frequent extensions and cost overruns. …

The skyrocketing costs for Washington in Iraq go well beyond efforts at making the Iraqi military ready for the U.S. withdrawal. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Wednesday, April 29, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

HOR RIJAB – Five people were killed and five were wounded by a roadside bomb in Hor Rijab, a village on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded five civilians in the Shurta district of southwestern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – At least 41 people were killed and 68 wounded when twin car bombs exploded in a busy market in northeastern Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, police said.

BAGHDAD – Two bombs placed in parked cars killed two people and wounded eight others near a Shi’ite mosque in the Hurriya district of northwestern Baghdad, police said.

HIMREEN – Three Iraqi soldiers were killed on patrol and two others wounded when two roadside bombs went off in the Himreen area of northeastern Diyala province, police said.

MOSUL – Two separate roadside bombs in southern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, killed one policeman and wounded five civilians, police said.

MOSUL – Two civilians were wounded by a roadside bomb in eastern Mosul, police said.

No report filed for April 28, 2009.

Following are security developments in Iraq on Monday, April 27, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

SALMAN PAK – Major General Adel Dahaam, police chief of the southern city of Basra, was unharmed in a roadside bomb attack in Salman Pak, 20 miles southeast of Baghdad. Police said Dahaam was off-duty at the time.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded two Iraqi soldiers and one civilian in nothern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Police said they found the body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest in western Mosul.


Late update

Car Bombs Kill 41 in Baghdad Market

Image: Car bomb in Baghdad
Iraqis protest as Iraqi army officers hold them back following several car bombs in the marketplace in Baghdad’s eastern Sadr City district on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. (Photo credit: Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP — Getty Images)

The Associated Press and Reuters via
April 29, 2009

BAGHDAD — Two car bombs killed at least 41 people at a busy market in Baghdad, Iraqi police said Wednesday.

The blasts went off in quick succession from parked cars filled with explosives near a restaurant in the Shiite district of Sadr City. A police official told Reuters the bombs also left 68 people wounded.

A third car bomb was discovered but later defused, police said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the information.

Angry residents of the sprawling slum threw stones and empty bottles at Iraqi soldiers afterwards, blaming them for not providing enough protection.

The blasts come less than a week after bombings claimed more than 150 lives over a two-day span, raising fears that suspected Sunni insurgents are regrouping as the U.S. military begins to withdraw. …

The increase in high-profile attacks in recent weeks has raised questions about the ability of Iraq’s forces to sustain security gains as they increasingly take over from the Americans. …

On Tuesday, the Iraqi government announced it has captured the alleged leader of an al-Qaida front group. The military presented the first image of the man it says is Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, saying his arrest would deal a major blow to the insurgency. …


4/30/09 Update

Death Toll from Twin Iraq Car Bombs Rises to 51

April 30, 2009

BAGHDAD — The death toll from twin car bomb blasts in a crowded Baghdad market rose to 51 Thursday, police said, and the country’s main Sunni political party condemned the attack on a heavily Shi’ite Muslim area.

The car bombs Wednesday, which also wounded 76 people in the capital’s sprawling Sadr City slum, followed a series of other attacks in the past two weeks that have stirred fears of a return to broader sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. …

The upsurge in violence this month has ended the sense of growing calm and security that had gripped Baghdad earlier this year. …

Analysts said Iraq is likely to suffer suicide and car bomb attacks for several more years. While that will certainly present a dire threat to Iraqi civilians, it is less clear whether it presents a mortal threat to the state.

More dangerous to Iraq’s medium-term stability than bombs is the fact not enough has been done in the political arena to foster reconciliation between Sunnis and Shi’ites, the analysts say. …

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