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From our Department of Headlines from the Associated Press we thought we'd never see: Iraqi Army Getting Stronger.
Thermal data from Hell will be reported when possible. Meanwhile, here's the story:
With American help, the Iraqi army is emerging as a lightly armed counterinsurgency force that may control more of the country than the U.S.-led coalition by this spring, U.S. military officials say.But the AP was able to find a downside to that:
''They're not going to be the 101st Airborne anytime soon,'' said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Fred Wellman, spokesman for the military transition command in Baghdad. ``But in 2006, this is the year that the majority of Iraq will be secured by Iraqis.''
But the Pentagon is also grappling with designing a force that assuages the worries of countries victimized by Saddam Hussein's military.Meanwhile, USA Today reports on "insurgent infighting"
''There is a concern in the region about giving them an offensive military capability,'' said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of planning for the U.S. Central Command.
"Now you actually have a wedge, or a split, between the Sunni population and al-Qaeda in Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for multinational forces in Iraq. "It poses a significant crossroads for these groups as they look at where they head."A look at Iraq the Model reveals the Iraqi media has a slightly different view:
The U.S. military cited incidents of insurgent infighting in a rare public description of a split:
• At least six ranking members of al-Qaeda in Iraq have been assassinated by Sunni insurgents or tribal gunmen in separate incidents since September, Zahner said. The killings are usually in retaliation for al-Qaeda's role in violence, such as the execution of local police officers, he said.
• In Ramadi, in western Iraq, he said, armed clashes have erupted between local Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives in recent months. At least one high-ranking al-Qaeda member, Abu Khatab, was recently run out of Ramadi by insurgents loyal to the local tribe.
• Near the Syrian border, members of the Albu Mahal tribe, which attacked U.S. positions as recently as March, have lately been pointing U.S. troops to al-Qaeda hideouts, Zahner said.
Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, also said there is a rift in the insurgency, calling it a "a major step forward in our fight against terrorism."
Iraqi tribes in Anbar arrest 270 Arab and foreign al-Qaeda members!Quick review:
From Dar al-Hayat (Arabic):
The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested.
In Iraq it's "The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization"
In the US: "armed clashes have erupted between local Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives"
At least it's being reported.
As is this:
Videotapes of insurgent attacks in Iraq have become a potent propaganda tool for militant Islamists but also a handy training aid for U.S. forces, according to Army briefing documents being given to U.S. officers deploying for duty in Iraq.And this:
Insurgents routinely videotape their attacks and sometimes post the footage on the Internet as propaganda to show tactical victories against U.S. military convoys or helicopters.
A briefing report prepared by the intelligence division of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command shows how the Army is mining the insurgent tapes for ways to avoid casualties.
Back in the United States, the Marine Corps and Army set about devising more thorough, customized and realistic training programs. Some of their revamped methods will get a big test with the latest major round of deployments in Southern California. About 25,000 Marines and sailors, most of them from Camp Pendleton, will head to Iraq in the coming months.On the homefront you'll probably hear this a lot:
The Army, convinced that its urban combat strategies are on track, has focused on beefing up its cultural programs. Hundreds of Arabic speakers now populate its training sites in Germany, Louisiana and California.
"We moved to another phase of operations in which the cultural aspect was important," said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Harms. "It is no longer close in and destroy the enemy. We have to build relationships with Iraqis on the street."
While the Army remodeled, the Marine Corps rebuilt.
The result is Mojave Viper, a little-known national training program based at Twentynine Palms. The monthlong course in urban combat and cultural awareness gives commanders unprecedented flexibility in tailoring training to best suit their units' needs.
President Bush prepares for next week's State of the Union address, he faces widespread discontent over his job performance and the nation's direction that could threaten his party in the 2006 election, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.Less reported will be these other results from the same poll:
In the survey, 43% of Americans said they approved of Bush's performance as president — his weakest showing ever in a Times poll.
On national security issues, Bush's position has deteriorated from its high point after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. For instance, 48% said they approved of Bush's performance in fighting terrorism, whereas 49% disapproved — the first time he has fallen below 50% on that issue in a Times survey.
By 56% to 41%, those surveyed also disapproved of his handling of the Iraq war.
Just 36% expressed a favorable opinion of congressional Democrats, whereas 45% viewed them unfavorably. That's statistically the same as the showing for congressional Republicans, who were viewed favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 44%.Enjoy your weekend!
But other measures point toward a continuing Bush advantage on security questions. When asked who could do a better job of protecting the nation against terrorism, 45% picked Bush, whereas 32% chose congressional Democrats. Independents give Bush a decisive 19-percentage-point edge.
Similarly, 52% said Bush's policies had made the nation more secure, whereas 21% said he had left the nation less secure — and 25% said he had made no difference.
(Previous installment, in which we learned that Army re-enlistments in 2005 were the highest they've been in five years, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has been cut to the lowest level since last summer, Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, "who is Iraqi," had taken over from al-Zarqawi as "emir" of the new Mujahedeen Shura, or Council, and more, here)