Thursday, July 12, 2007


The "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report" has just been released by the White House and shows mixed results on the 18 benchmarks (goals) that were set forth when "The New Way Forward" strategy was put into effect. Here is the breakdown on where we are right now, the final report is due in September.

1) The Iraqi government must form a Constitutional Review Committee and then complete a constitutional review.

Grade ... satisfactory - The committee was formed on 11/15/2006 and the review is currently underway.

2) Enacting and implementing legislation allowing former Ba'ath party members to return to government service.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - re-integration of former Ba'athists that have not committed a crime has already begun, though a sweeping, government led policy over time would send a positive signal in favor of reconciliation. This is one of the most divisive of the benchmarks. I can see where the Iraqi people may be uneasy about allowing their former tormentors back into government service, but these are the guys that ran the power, water, sewage and almost all the services and are needed.

3) Enacting and Implementing legislation to fairly divide Iraq's oil profits so that all segments of the population get their fair share.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - but this is an all or nothing benchmark. This legislation has been hammered in the legislature almost constantly. There is a framework for the revenue sharing law, but approval has been delayed by a Sunni party boycott. This is the most important legislation that the Iraqi government has in front of it ... and important legislation takes time.

4) Enacting and implementing legislation on the procedure to form regions.

Grade ... satisfactory - The law was passed in October of 2006. Under the Iraqi constitution, regions have powers that provinces don't like control over regional security forces. I liken these regions to states in the US.

5) Enacting and implementing legislation:
a) establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission
b) provisional election law
c) provisional council authorities
d) provisional elections

Grade a) satisfactory - the commission has been established b) unsatisfactory - drafting of the law has just begun c) unsatisfactory - the law is in it's third revision when the law will come to a final vote on passage. d) unsatisfactory - legislation for setting a date for elections has not been enacted.

6) Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty

Grade ... unsatisfactory - There is little progress toward an amnesty law for people who have fought against the government since 2003 ... This might come at some point, but no one is pressing for it at this time and the US government has re-thought it's position on amnesty ... feeling that conditions are not yet right for a general amnesty in Iraq.

7) Enacting and implementing legislation disarming militias

Grade ... unsatisfactory - the pre-requisites for disarming the militias are not yet present. In fact, international experts, including the UN have expressed reservations to advancing this proposal at this time.

8) Establishing political, media, economic and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

Grade ... satisfactory - these committees have been established and will continue to be monitored to provide a satisfactory effect over the next 60 days.

9) Providing (3) trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

Grade ... satisfactory - the Iraqi government has provided the three brigades ... they are a combination of additional troops and troops pulled from existing units. Though manning levels are a concern, the Iraqi government has provided the three brigades to Baghdad and has made provisions to sustain this level of effort and to address manning issues.

10) Provide Iraqi commanders with the authority to execute the Baghdad Operation and make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with US Commanders without political intervention, including the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - Iraqi commanders have been given authority to go after insurgents and militias but there remains a negative political influence in regards to sectarian behavior (though it does seem a bit hypocritical to tell the Iraqis to keep politics out of the military when the US hasn't been able to do it). So, while there has been definite progress, it has been too uneven to warrant a satisfactory grade at this time.

11) Ensure that the Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - Iraqi Security Force performance has generally been adequate, but because we are holding them to a high standard, the overall judgement at this time is unsatisfactory.

12) Ensuring that the Baghdad Security Plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliation.

Grade ... satisfactory - Commanders on the ground report that there is no place in Baghdad that coalition and Iraqi forces are prohibited from going ... though there is one individual that is "off-limits", by order of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki (though the individual is not named in the report, we can assume it is radical Shite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr).

13) Reducing the level of Sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

Grade ... satisfactory and unsatisfactory - while the level of sectarian violence has been reduced throughout Iraq, militias still control some local security.

14) Establishing all of the planned joint security stations (JSS) in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

Grade ... satisfactory - So far, 68 of these JSS's have been established with been established with 22 more to go. This benchmark is on track to be completed within the required time.

15) Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces capable of operating independently.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - There are 9 Iraqi Army divisions, 31 Brigades, and 95 Battalions in the operational lead for their area of responsibility. Earlier this year the Iraqi government invested $7.3 billion for the training and equipping of its own security forces. This is an impressive investment that will need time to have an impact on the ground. There has actually been a slight decrease in units rated as capable of independent operations since January of 2007. This is due to an increase of 20% in the size of the Iraqi army. When you increase the size of the army, you dilute the pool of fully trained Officers and NCOs as they are transferred to other units to make them combat ready. Just like when a baseball league has expansion teams, the league is diluted till more minor leaguers come up and gain some experience.

16) Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

Grade ... satisfactory - Minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature function in a manner consistent with minority parties in other parliamentary democracies.

17) Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including the delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

Grade ... satisfactory - In 2006, the Iraqi government was only able to execute 22% of the allocated budget for these projects ... this year that percentage will be much higher, and it is extremely important for the Iraqi people to see their government working on improving roads, schools and being able to keep the lights on. This benchmark is being hampered by security concerns but great progress is being made.

18) Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

Grade ... unsatisfactory - some members of the Iraqi Parliament and council of ministers have made baseless accusations against ISF leaders for sectarian and political gain (sounds like they have been learning a little too much from Washington DC).

So the final tally is 8 satisfactory, 8 unsatisfactory and 2 mixed. I have condensed the 25 pages of the report (a report that is full of acronyms and very hard to follow) so that it is easier to read ... you can make your own decisions on how we are doing and not have to rely on television news reporters (who probably haven't read the report and only read what's on the teleprompter). By the way, the smart-ass remarks in parenthesis are my own comments and should not be taken as part of the report.

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Anonymous said...

We have made SOME progress in the past six months, and as I have said before, SOME progress is better than NO progress. Things in IRAQ are not perfect. We have a LOT of work to do. More Americans are expected to DIE in IRAQ. As per General Petreaus, bullets alone are NOT going to win this war, there must be a POLITICAL solution by part of the IRAQIS. Over 70 percent of Americans would like to see our GIs out of that fubar country, but we can not cut and run. Not yet.


Nikki said...

There will never be enough satisfacory ratings up there.

Paul Champagne said...

tlrb ... of course some progress is better than no progress. I wish there was a magic wand that could make everything peachy-keen overnight but it's going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice (by both our countries) to get the mission finished. But isn't a free and truely democratic Iraq in the middle of the middle east worth it?

nikki ... are you saying that because you don't think that the plan is going to work and that the benchmarks will never be reached or because you feel that even if the Iraqis are doing everything that they are supposed to do, we shouldn't be helping them at all and need to pull all our troops out now?

Jenny! said...

Progress can be slow and frustrating...but I agree with you on the fact that it is worth it!

Paul Champagne said...

jenny ... We went into Iraq with a great plan for winning the war ... but with no plan at all for winning the peace. The progress we are looking at is to make up for our initial blunders at the end of the war ... but then again hindsight is 20/20.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

What a hornets nest it is over there.

My husband was in the Air Force during the first Gulf War ... he disarmed bombs over there.

It's too bad we didn't take out So~damn~insane back then.

Ughhh...what a mess.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...


Anonymous said...

we are spending so much money on iraq too. so our tax went up *tear*

Paul Champagne said...

terri ... I was with the 1st Armored Division during Desert Storm. The cease-fire was called when we were just south of Basra and we got to watch the Iraqi Army drive past us when they left Kuwait. They were waving and smiling at us as they went by. I am amazed that discipline held and no one opened fire on them ... I know I was tempted.

You're Welcome

Paul Champagne said...

niki ... the United States in spending $10 billion dollars a month on Iraq. If we accomplish the mission it will be worth it ... if we cut and run it will be all for nothing ... not to mention the lives lost.

The Ogre said...

I'm not for just cutting and running. But at what point do you finally decide enough is enough? The optimist will state that those benchmarks will be reached. The pessimist will state that they won't. The realist in me thinks that it won't truly have any meaning until Iraq decides to do it. We can but hold their hand for so long and then what? There is much more that needs to be done here without having to constantly babysit Iraq.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Army side of the house. But on the Navy side of the house the shipyards could built TWO nuclear powered aircraft carriers, and one helicopter carrier for TEN BILLION dollars. This is only a numbers game, the US MINT is producing a LOT of new money, and the economy is doing okay. So, no worries :))


Karen said...

It sounds like too many of you have forgotten 9-11.

Sure we should have taken out Saddam the 1st time, but it didn't happen. I had family over there then and I have family over there now and we can't turn tail and run.

We were warned that this would be a long war, when it first began. But of course that was when the memory of 9-11 was still fresh and people united ...briefly...Just my opinion.

Keshi said...

Paul ur doing a great job here.

Also u mite like to check out my latest holiday destination. :)


Nikki said...

Both I think. I don't think we can do enough to help them because a lot of them don't want us there - and the ones that do are afraid to say anything. I also think that they either don't know how, or are unwilling to help themselves - for one reason or another.

...and before some smart ass asks, no I don't have an answer, I'm not saying the current plan is or isn't right or wrong.
...I'm simply saying I would prefer to bomb the living fuck out of the country and bring our boys home.

But that's just me.

Jenny! said...

Here is my (ignorant), but honest opinion...we should just turn it into a glass desert and be done with it!

Jenny! said...

Is that naughty enough for you???

Blancodeviosa said...

I say we start billing the Iraqi's for thier (part) expense in the war and then see if they scramble to get their asses in gear.

Paul Champagne said...

ogre ... you ask, "at what time do you decide enough is enough". I ask, "At what time do we decide to WIN THIS WAR ", and take the gloves off, stop playing politics and accomplish the mission so that our troops come home.

tlrb ... yeah that money would buy a lot of stuff, but we should just consider it an investment on our future security.

karen ... we were told that this would be a long war. I guess some people's definition of "long" is different from ours.

keshi ... thank you. Are you inviting me on a holiday?

nikki ... don't worry, it's not just you. I think the only reason this war has lasted so long is Congress. In their constant political games, they have given the terrorists hope that if they only last a little longer, we will leave and they will win. Discussion of the war and debate are great and essential to democracy. But that should take place in committee meetings behind closed doors. When the US government speaks, it should be with one voice ... and a determined US is something that the terrorists should fear.

jenny ... very naughty, 10 swats for you. But while the idea does tickle the fancy ... that would make us better than the terrorists in what way?

blanco ... in a way, the Iraqiis are contributing to the American economy in their contracts with American companies for reconstruction. They are also buying equipment for their security forces. It is a fine line between charging them for their part and ruining their fragile economy. Sure, they have oil, but insurgent attacks have concentrated on their oil facilities and pipelines, so they won't be prosperous until they can get it under control.

Jenny! said...

It wouldn't make us any was just an idea!

Paul Champagne said...

jenny ... that's why you have earned your swats.

David said...

Maybe I am just a young hothead, but I agree more with Jenny! than not. I wouldn't turn the area into a nuclear wasteland, but bombing the hell out of anyone supporting the insurgency would make a nice statement!

David said...

Maybe then the Iraqis would get a little peace and start to stand on their own two feet.

Paul Champagne said...

david ... I admit that jenny's statement is seductive, but even God allowed Lot and his family to leave Sodom and Gomorah before he destroyed those cities. We can't just kill the good with the bad for convenience ... I hope we are better than that. Hiroshima and Nagasaki still bother the hell out of me ... even though the reasoning was sound.

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