Frederick Kagan: What the Jones Report really says

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Frederick W. Kagan is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.]

SOME IN THE MEDIA have been remarkably quick to report on leaked copies of reports about Iraq before the average person has a chance to read them. There is a reason, apart from the usual journalistic desire to be first with a story. The reports often don't say what the reporters want them to. First leaks about the National Intelligence Estimate and the report of the Government Accountability Office turned out to have painted them darker--and in the case of the NIE much darker--than they actually were. That is even more true of the report of Retired Marine General Jim Jones about the state of the Iraqi Security Forces.

The Washington Post rushed out its story with the headline: "Jones Report: Iraqi Security Forces Not Ready: Logistical Sufficiency Is at Least Two Years Away."...

Let's just see what the report actually says about the key issues. The following are direct quotations, with phrases of particular interest in bold:

The Commission finds that in general, the Iraqi Security Forces, military and police, have made uneven progress, but that there should be increasing improvement in both their readiness and their capability to provide for the internal security of Iraq.
While severely deficient in combat support and combat service support capabilities, the new Iraqi armed forces, especially the Army, show clear evidence of developing the baseline infrastructures that lead to the successful formation of a national defense capability.

In general, the Iraqi Army and Special Forces are becoming more proficient in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations; they are gaining size and strength, and will increasingly be capable of assuming greater responsibility for Iraq's security.

The Iraqi Army possesses an adequate supply of willing and able manpower, a steadily improving basic training capability, and equipment tailored to counterinsurgency operations. There is evidence to show that the emerging Iraqi soldier is willing to fight against the declared enemies of the state, with some exceptions along ethnic lines. The Army is making efforts to reduce sectarian influence within its ranks and achieving some progress. The Army's operational effectiveness is increasing; yet it will continue to rely on help in areas such as command and control, equipment, fire support, logistical support, intelligence, and transportation. Despite continued progress, the Iraqi military will not be ready to independently fulfill its security role within the next 12 to 18 months. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that substantial progress can be achieved within that period of time.
Finding 3: The 'clear, hold, build' strategy being implemented by Iraqi Security Forces is on the right track and shows potential, but neither the Iraqi armed forces nor the police forces can execute these types of operations independently....
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