Iraqi troops reluctant to take Baghdad duty

AP/Washington Times:

The United States needs roughly 3,000 more Iraqi soldiers to join the battle in Baghdad, but requests for the troops have not been met because Iraqi soldiers are reluctant to leave their home regions, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad said yesterday.
Maj. Gen. James Thurman told Pentagon reporters that while the United States has 15,000 troops in Baghdad -- which military leaders say is the priority battlefront in Iraq -- there are only about 9,000 Iraqi soldiers there. That is just a fraction of the 128,000 Iraqi army troops that the United States says are now trained and equipped.
Iraqi soldiers generally join battalions in their geographic regions, and Gen. Thurman said that "due to the distance, [they] did not want to travel into Baghdad." He said the Iraqi minister of defense is working on the problem, and "I'm confident that they're going to meet that requirement here within the next few weeks, but it's going to take a little time."
Geographic limitations on service is a weakness the Iraqi army is going to have to deal with if they have any hope of becoming an effective force. Perhaps the best way to deal with it would be to start an elite unit that had higher pay and recognition that could go anywhere in the country.


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