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'The Army has some quite good units, quite heartening units.'

Gen. Petraeus had a chat with the guys at Op-For. He hits on the key for stabilizing Iraq-- national, Iraqi leadership:

“You have to have a national government. You have to have national direction. I think the army is one of the better stories. It is a mixed bag in some cases but, by in large, the army has some quite good units, quite heartening units. I was just up in Ninewa Province for example and there are two pretty good Iraqi Army Divisions up there. In fact, we have only a single battalion contributing to the security in Mosul, in large measure because there is a pretty good Iraqi Army Division, pretty good police chief and police force.

It is not perfect. It’s under threat. Al-Qaeda is trying to open a new front there. They did manage to break guys out of a prison. There are all kinds of pressures and challenges. But that’s actually a place where you can see the future of a smaller coalition presence and Iraqis stepping up to the plate and taking over. I wouldn’t say its easy there because you have some real ethnic challenges between Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds.”

Heartening, in Fallujah. Bill Ardolino gets the story of a chlorine gas attack on the government center there, which left a few injured, but none dead, thanks to what sounds like heads-up heroics from the IAs and, of course, our own Marines, hell-bent on saving their own from harm. Read the whole thing:

As for the IAs, they proved themselves. The jundi did a great job and pretty much stopped the initial attack as the insurgents were trying to shoot/ram their way inside. The IA and IP [Iraqi Police] figured it out and opened up on them, causing them to set off at the gates or just outside the buildings, vice inside where it would have been worse. Still too close than most would like, but it will do. After all "shook it off," we got most of us out of the rubble and the gas, did a head-count, realized there were still some back in. All rubble, smoke and chlorine gas, hard to see what was what, and of course you can't breathe. So of course, we ran back in it. Got to find those guys. It was not pretty but, we got them all out, to include a few guys you know. They are good now. We then got a US/IA triage and casualty system working. The chlorine thing is a whole other conversation.
And, because I've been meaning to link this for a long time, a jaw-droppingly powerful story from Iraq, in just 300 words

And, as always, for some of the best, consistent analysis of Iraq, beyond the domestic politics, check in with Allah regularly.

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