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Iraqi army can't take charge, report says

It will be more than 18 months before Iraqi security forces can step in on their own, according to a report released today. Read closely and you'll see Iraq's army is making steady progress, said Frederick Kagan in The Daily Standard. We're now stuck figh

Iraq’s army has made progress but still can’t hope to take over security duties from American forces this year or next, according to a report released today by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq. The assessment—one of several ordered by Congress before the Bush administration presents its own review next week—said that Iraqi forces “cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven.”

As usual, the reporters got this one wrong, said Frederick Kagan in The Daily Standard. Former Marine commandant James Jones and the other retired U.S. military officers who wrote compiled this report cited example after example showing that “the Iraqi Army has made tremendous strides, is fighting hard and skillfully, and is now a critical component of the counter-terrorism campaign in Iraq.” The conclusion that the Iraqis will need continued Coalition combat and logistics support for a long time to come should surprise nobody.

All arguments for staying the course ignore the “threshhold question in any war,” said Clinton administration secretary of state Madeleine Albright in The Washington Post (free registration required). What are we fighting for? President Bush has changed the answer to that question over and over—from finding weapons of mass destruction to preventing terrorist attacks. And now our soldiers are putting their lives on the line to give Iraqis time for reconciliation and to prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for terrorists. In other words, we’re now fighting in response “not to dangers that prompted the invasion but to those that resulted from it.”

The real question is where do we go from here? said Austin Bay in The Houston Chronicle. Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, should provide a roadmap when he makes his much-anticipated assessment public next week. But the “gut intelligence” is already clear: We’re making progress, and must stay the course. “Sticking with the effort in Iraq is crucial if we want a more peaceful and prosperous 21st century, for Iraqis, Americans, and every one else on the planet.”

Ignore the "anti-war spinners," said Hugh Hewitt on HughHewitt.com. The Jones report "is full of very good news," along with some "candid" concerns.

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