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The Conflict in Iraq

Troop Training Half Over, U.S. Says

August 11, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

MUSCAT, Oman — The training of Iraqi security troops is halfway complete and should be essentially finished by June 2005, the United States' top military officer said Tuesday.

Iraqi police, border patrol and other security forces, whose shortages of body armor, weapons and fortifications have often left them highly vulnerable to attacks by insurgents, are just starting to receive "huge" shipments of military materiel, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview in the United Arab Emirates before making a stop in neighboring Oman.

"A lot of the equipment that the Iraqi police forces, the army, the Iraqi national guard and the border patrol -- a lot of those resources are just now beginning to flow into Iraq," Myers said. "So by the end of this year -- certainly by next June -- Iraqi security forces will be reasonably well trained, well equipped, well led and then mentored by other coalition members."

The end of training for Iraqi forces, eventually expected to number as many as 300,000, could pave the way for a significant reduction in the 160,000 U.S.-led foreign troops now in Iraq.

In the meantime, U.S. forces continue to play the leading role in many anti-insurgent operations, including heavy fighting in the last week in the south-central city of Najaf. Although Iraqi forces have been participating in those battles, "it will take us many months to get them to the point where they can handle the security situation," Myers said.

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