Life in the bubble
Rumsfeld may have inadvertantly provided the most telling quote in this story.
President George W. Bush sought on Saturday to dispel concerns about the readiness of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, declaring himself "encouraged" even though his top generals say the number of battalions that can fight insurgents without help has dropped.Bush says Iraqi security forces are growing in size and capability. General Abizaid said the number of Iraqi battalions that can fight without the support of U.S. troops has fallen. Whom do you believe?
"I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
One of the few measures the Pentagon has offered the public to judge the capabilities of Iraqi security forces has been the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military.
During congressional testimony on Thursday, Gen. George Casey, top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the number of such battalions had dropped since July to one from three, out of the roughly 100 Iraqi battalions.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to play down the new estimate on Friday, saying, "Its relevance is minimal."