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End the Irresponsible Training and Equipping of the Iraqi Security Forces

July 30, 2009
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35), chair and co-founder of the ‘Out of Iraq' Congressional Caucus, hosted a press conference calling for the end of funding for the Iraqi Security Forces.  This is an excerpt of her statement to the press:

"Much of the Administration's justification for continued military involvement in Iraq rests on the premise that the Iraqi Security Forces will soon be able to control the violence in Iraq and replace American troops.  Unfortunately, this is a dangerous assumption. 

"The ISF will not be capable of taking responsibility for their nation's security, and will not be able to replace American troops on the ground.  Without a unifying central government to which a majority of Iraqis are loyal, we are merely training different factions of a violent power struggle.

"More importantly, by continuing to train and equip Iraqis, we risk the danger that weapons provided to them will one day be turned against the United States and our allies in the region.  Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were both supported and equipped by the United States in the past, under very similar circumstances.  How can we be sure we are not putting guns into the hands of a future enemy and empowering them for generations to come?

"In fact, there is already widespread evidence of sectarian infiltration of the Iraqi Security Forces.  Iraqi Police and military personnel have been alleged to be involved in death squads, extrajudicial killings and kidnappings throughout Iraq.  American guns given to the ISF- 190,000 of which have been lost, according to an August GAO report- are now showing up in Turkey, having been used in violent crimes.  Six of the 18 benchmarks for progress in Iraq ask for improvement from the ISF, but according to the report by the Comptroller General of the GAO released yesterday, all six of these benchmarks have failed.

"I have recently introduced legislation that will effectively address this problem.  H.R. 3134, the Responsible Security in Iraq Act, would prohibit the use of federal funds for the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians.  This is a simple and commonsense response to President Bush's misguided policies, and I hope all of my colleagues will rally around the idea.

"The training and equipping of Iraq Security Forces is not a case of a good idea put into practice poorly.  Plain and simply, this is a bad policy.  Continuing to train and equip the Iraqi Security Forces and sectarian fighters is a dangerous practice that must be halted.  Policy makers have to confront the consequences of raising a military in a failed state, and must resist adding further fuel to the fire that is raging in Iraq."

Since the start of the Iraq War in March of 2003, the U.S. has invested over $19 billion in training and equipping of ISF personnel, including the purchase and transfer of over 370,000 small arms.  Neither the Department of Defense nor the Government of Iraq can determine how many of the nearly 360,000 personnel trained by U.S.-lead forces are still serving in the ISF, and whether such personnel have been properly vetted or trained.