Moving on to the last in our three-part series on the questionable military victories of "handing over" Iraqi provinces to the Iraqis (or "What Kate McMillan lied about on her summer vacation"), we find ourselves in Dhi Qar province:
Italy hands over security for southern province to Iraqi forces
Italy formally handed over security responsibility of the southern Dhi Qar province to Iraqi forces Thursday, the second of the country's 18 provinces to be handed over to local control.
Ooooooooh ... lookin' good ... until you read a little more carefully (emphasis added):
The overall U.S. strategy calls for coalition forces to redeploy to larger bases and let Iraqis become responsible for their security in specific regions. The larger bases can act in a support or reserve role. A final stage would involve the drawdown of troops from Iraq.
With the handover, Iraqis will now be responsible for security in the province, calling in coalition troops only when they are needed for support.
Um ... yeah. Are you starting to notice a persistent pattern here? Moving on to Najaf, then, where we get a bit of foreshadowing about how long the Iraqis can keep taking control of their own provinces:
U.S. forces ceded control of southern Najaf province to Iraqi police and soldiers, who marked the occasion Wednesday with a parade and martial arts demonstrations. But doubts remain about whether the Iraqis, vulnerable to insurgent attacks and militia infiltration, can handle security in more volatile provinces anytime soon.
Oh, dear ... that doesn't sound particularly promising, does it? But no worries ... those Iraqis are prepared for ... uh ... anything?
At one point, a small group of soldiers stepped forward with a live rabbit and tore it to pieces. The leader bit out the heart with a yell, then passed around the blood-soaked remains to his comrades, each of whom took a bite. The group also bit the heads off frogs, as some of those in the crowd held their noses from the stench.
Great. So if they're attacked by killer rabbits and warrior frogs, they have at least a fighting chance. My head hurts. Moving on (all emphasis added):
Fourth Iraqi Province Transfers to Local Control
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2007 – Maysan province has become the fourth of 18 Iraqi provinces to transfer to provincial Iraqi control, marking another step toward a stable and secure Iraq, according to Multinational-Force Iraq officials.
In a ceremony today at the provincial capital of Al Amarah, Iraqi officials assumed total control of governing the southern province. The province is in the British-led Multinational Division Southeast area of operations.
All right, then ... "total control." It's about time someone took the training wheels off those folks and ... and ... oh, crap:
Coalition units will continue to partner with Iraqi security forces, and small military and police training teams will continue to help Iraqi forces as they gain more hands-on experience, an official said.
Iraqi officials can call on coalition forces in Basra province if they face a situation they cannot handle, the official said.
Coalition forces will also help Iraqi border police. The province has a long border with Iran and coalition forces will continue to help the police patrol the border, the official said.
This is apparently a definition of the word "total" with which I am unfamiliar. But I'm guessing you can see the pattern here, and that pattern finally descends into total absurdity with the next three provinces that got "handed over," which Kate is creaming herself over here:
ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) - In a blaze of pomp showcasing Kurdish military muscle, US forces handed over responsibility for security in Iraq's three northern provinces to the Kurdish regional government on Wednesday [...]
The handover was followed by a parade of Kurdish soldiers, including an all-female martial arts display.
Quick -- who can spot the logical absurdity here? Why, yes ... it's the thought of handing over control of the northern Kurdish provinces back to the Kurds ... yeah, that would be these Kurds:
Trouble looms after coalition tells Kurds self-rule can stay
Owen Bowcott and Brian Whitaker
Tuesday January 6, 2004
Kurdish political leaders have been reassured that their region's semi-autonomous status will be allowed to continue after the handover to Iraqi self-rule on June 30.
Right ... that would be the Kurds who had been promised -- as far back as 2004 -- that they would be allowed to remain semi-autonomous, so one wonders what the big deal is about "handing over" control of the provinces that they've been controlling for the last few years, anyway.
In short, the "handovers" that have taken place so far have been, as we've pointed out, singularly unimpressive, if not downright meaningless. But it looks like that's about to change. Maybe.
Gen: Iraqi Handover May Be Delayed
U.S. Commander In Diyala "Not Optimistic" That Control Of Region Can Be Achieved By Year's End
TIKRIT, Iraq, Feb. 24, 2007
(CBS/AP) A U.S. general warned Saturday that an upsurge in violence outside the capital may delay plans to hand over at least one of the 18 provinces to the Iraqis by the end of the year.
Plans call for all provinces to be transferred to Iraqi security control by Dec. 31. But increased attacks by Sunni insurgents could delay the transfer of Diyala province, which lies just northeast of Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon told The Associated Press.
Mixon is the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, which includes Diyala.
"The potential is there" to hand over provinces "except in Diyala, where the future remains in question," Mixon said. "I'm not optimistic" about Diyala "given the current situation."
That was back in February. How are things going? Whoops ... not so well:
Iraqi Forces Unable to Control Diyala
Stars and Stripes | Jeff Schogol | June 26, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — The strategy of “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down” appears to have backfired in Diyala province.
The province shows what happens when U.S. troops transfer security too quickly to ill-prepared Iraqi troops, said Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group.
Three U.S. Army brigade combat teams are currently trying to retake Diyala province from al-Qaida terrorists.
And since cheerleading wanks like Kate were so excited when things were going "well," one should, of course, expect that they'll be fair and balanced and report on when things like this start to go south in a hurry, because that would be the "fair and balanced" thing to do, right? Right?
And, some day, pigs will fly. I'm waiting for that, too.