Reality bites. Contrast these two reports. First, Bush’s tale about the Iraqi troops’ major contributions in Tal Afar. Then, an eyewitness embedded MSM journalist’s 180-degree account of the Iraqi troops’ abysmal performance — so bad that an American commander physically tossed out an Iraqi commander, and had Iraqi troops pulled from the battlefield!
President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, November 30, 2005:
PRESIDENT BUSH: … The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year’s assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army — with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties. [But] the Iraqi role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops. This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story.
The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces — 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions … Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space — hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods … To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help maintain law and order — and reconstruction projects have been started to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.
One of the Iraqi soldiers who fought in TAL Afar … says, “We’re not afraid. We’re here to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists.” Iraqi forces not only cleared the city, they held it. [B]ecause of [their] skill and courage … citizens of TAL Afar were able to vote in October’s constitutional referendum.
‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann‘ for December 1:
KEITH OLBERMANN: I want to play a comment from Michael Ware of “TIME” magazine, who was embedded at Tal Afar, the offensive that the president cited as one of the success stories in his speech yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WARE, “TIME” MAGAZINE: I was in that battle. I saw those forces, and it showed that they have very limited capabilities. And without American tanks, armor, helicopters, they couldn’t have battled al Qaeda. And in some cases, they fell apart.
Indeed, there was a situation where the American commander in Tal Afar had to have an Iraqi commander physically thrown out of his command post, and his troops pulled from the battlefield.
It just revealed many of the schisms and many of the limitations.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Dana [Milbank, WaPo] … who’s vetting the president’s information, and how much is he undercutting himself because the fact-checking seems to be less than it was at my high school newspaper?
MILBANK: [T]he administration [has been good at] staying [ahead], and by the time people sort of sorted out the actual facts, we had moved on to the next subject. That’s really caught up with them, and you see credibility numbers very low, around 30 percent.
[I]t’s not so much what the president says now, but what people actually see with their own eyes on TV.
On occasion, eyewitness journalists — even “embedded journalists” — get in the way of the Bushco propaganda.
Bush’s speech was an act of desperation. Nobody is fooled by his BS about the readiness of the Iraqi troops.