US Commander ‘Frustrated’ With Pace of Iraq Training

Calls Yesterday's Baghdad Bombing an Obvious Lapse

by Jason Ditz, August 20, 2009

Lieutenant General Frank Helmick, the top US trainer in Iraq, expressed major frustrations one day after Baghdad was torn by deadly bombings, calling them an obvious lapse in security and noting that the training is not going fast enough.

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick

The Iraqi government reacted to the bombings with a blanket condemnation and the quick arrest of several high ranking officials which it blamed for the failures. Nevertheless, the enormous toll (well over 1,000 casualties at last count) has raised considerable concerns about the nation’s ability to provide security.

Lt. Gen. Helmick cautioned that while the US had built up Iraqi infantry, which he called “the easy part,” the intelligence and surveillance forces hadn’t been built up nearly so well, noting: “I do not want to overstate their capability. It is a very, very limited basic capability now, where they are flying sorties and providing live downlinks to mobile stations.”

Other officials seemed considerably more upbeat about Baghdad facing its deadliest day in over 18 months. The White House has expressed hope that the massive attacks, which destroyed the nation’s foreign ministry and did major damage to other government buildings would “energize” the Iraqi forces and get them really fired up to fight the insurgency. Hope springs eternal for the administration, even when Baghdad’s hospitals are overrun with casualties.

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