The 75 percent solution

An "accountability" problem for Iraqi security forces? They don't show up for work.

Published April 6, 2007 6:11PM (EDT)

The Pentagon arranged for a telephonic news briefing today by Col. Paul Funk on the work his 1st Ironhorse Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division is doing in the mostly rural northern part of the Baghdad province. Funk said his troops are making some progress in handing more and more of the "security mission" to Iraq security forces, but that the Iraqi forces face "challenges" in "leadership, training, equipment, accountability and responsibility."

A reporter asked Funk to elaborate. "You mentioned in particular accountability, leadership," the reporter said. "On a day-to-day basis, what does that mean? Are the police cooperating with you? Are they pursuing a sectarian agenda? What are the problems you face?"

Funk's response: "Well, really the biggest problem is getting them to come back to work. And that's basically because of the logistics functions. We've got to make sure that they get paid on time, they get the proper equipment and training that they need. So it's more of a logistics function of how we're getting those guys to come back. So the accountability piece is literally being present for work. We continue to see improvement in that area, however."

The reporter asked Funk how many of the Iraqi security forces who are supposed to be working actually show up when scheduled. His answer: "I would roughly say 75 percent show up when they're supposed to."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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