"Pass me some more duct tape."
Iraqis to Pay China $100 Million for Weapons for Police
Iraq has ordered $100 million worth of light military equipment from China for its police force, contending that the United States was unable to provide the materiel and is too slow to deliver arms shipments, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday.
The China deal, not previously made public, has alarmed military analysts who note that Iraq's security forces already are unable to account for more than 190,000 weapons supplied by the United States, many of which are believed to be in the hands of Shiite and Sunni militias, insurgents and other forces seeking to destabilize Iraq and target U.S. troops.
"The problem is that the Iraqi government doesn't have -- as yet -- a clear plan for making sure that weapons are distributed, that they are properly monitored and repeatedly checked," said Rachel Stohl of the Center for Defense Information, an independent think tank. "The end-use monitoring will be left in the hands of a government and military in Iraq that is not yet ready for it. And there's not a way for the U.S. to mandate them to do it if they're not U.S. weapons."...
..."We haven't converted toaster factories to produce carbines and we're working hard just to supply our own troops," said an administration official involved with Iraq policy. "Our factories are working for our own troops. So it's true we don't have the ability to provide these rifles and other equipment they're looking for."
...more if you can stand it
In 2004 and 2005, the United States bought 185,000 AK-47s from an Eastern European country -- after Iraqis rejected U.S.-made M-16 assault rifles -- as part of a $2.8 billion program to deliver military equipment to Iraq. But a recent Government Accountability Office report found that 110,000 of them were unaccounted for, with about 30 percent of all arms distributed to Iraqi forces by the United States since 2004 missing.
Nevertheless, Odierno said, recent improvements in Iraq's security since the U.S. troop buildup have exceeded his expectations, with attacks down in September to the lowest level since January 2006 and U.S. troop casualties declining since June. A major factor has been U.S. operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq, whose sanctuaries have been reduced by 60 to 70 percent since January, he said. He warned, however, that the group can regenerate.
Another factor has been the unexpected willingness of Sunni tribes to cooperate with U.S. and Iraqi forces, he said. But Odierno said he remains concerned over recent statements from Iraq's Shiite ruling faction demanding that the U.S. military stop recruiting Sunni tribesmen to Iraq's police force.
"That's uncomfortable to them, and I think that's part of why it's so important. This is about reconciliation," Odierno said. "We have to continue to move forward."
He said the U.S. military is shifting more of its resources to targeting Shiite militias, including what Odierno called "surrogates" who are trained, armed and funded by Iran, as well as "special groups" affiliated with the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
"We are starting to see at low levels a split between those [Shiite militias] who have some relationship with Iran . . . and those who do not," Odierno said. He said the significance of the "fissures" is not yet clear