U.S. audit: $200M wasted on Iraqi police training

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The training was led by the American military until last October, just six weeks before U.S. troops left Iraq for good. The embassy took over the program, but with what Monday’s report described as “mixed results.”

Iraq’s self-rule northern Kurdish region has embraced the program and, as a result, half of the remaining 36 U.S. advisers assigned to police training will be based in the Kurdish capital of Irbil, 350 kilometers (215 miles) north of Baghdad.

But restive politics in the central government, whose factions are reluctant to be seen as dependent on American help, have prompted officials to keep the U.S. trainers at arms’ length. Some Iraqi officers have been told to skip the police training sessions, the audit said, citing one who blamed “lukewarm relations between the Americans and Iraqis (that) has created some distance between them.”

Stephanie Sanok, who was at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2009 to 2010 and is an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, called the police training program “doomed from the beginning” because American officials never made sure Iraqis supported it.

“The U.S. government has a tendency to go ahead with programs that it has decreed are in the host country’s best interests,” Sanok said. “This was such an expensive program, and there was plenty of time to get the Iraqi government to help shape it in such a way that they could eventually take it over. But we never got that buy-in.”

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report is at: http://www.sigir.mil/files/audits/12-020.pdf#view=fit

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