A Not Too Rosy Picture:

Anthony Cordesman, veteran defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, just released a new assessment of the situation in Iraq and it is not a pretty picture. He writes: “Iraq is already in a state of limited civil war. … The present reality is that progress is slow or faltering in each of the areas necessary to make Iraqi force development successful.” Cordesman goes on to note that although creation of an effective Iraqi military, national security, and police forces is “marginally more successful than Iraq political and economic efforts,” it is nowhere near “the level of success the US planned even at the beginning of 2005.” Lagging behind Iraqi ground forces is the buildup of the Iraqi Air Force, which Cordesman says is “at best a small cadre of forces with token reconnaissance and air transport capability.” The chief problem being “difficulty in recruiting qualified candidates.” He does say that Iraq plans to at least double the current 750-man force by the end of 2007. Of course, he also notes that the Iraq Ministry of Defense has not developed plans to procure its own combat aircraft. All of which makes last year’s prediction by outgoing USAF Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper that the US Air Force would still be in Iraq long after US ground troops have pulled out seem right on the mark.