'This is no longer America's war in Iraq,' says U.S. commander of Iraqi military training unit

Published: Thursday December 28, 2006
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Thursday's edition of The New York Times includes a story which records the frustrations of some commanding officers in charge of training Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, who fear that "sectarian ties" may be almost insurmountable in a country where "everyone, to some extent, is influenced" by the Shiite militias.

"I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting," Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of a military training unit in Baghdad tells the Times.

"A two-day reporting trip accompanying Major Voorhies’s unit and combat troops seemed to back his statement, as did other commanding officers expressing similar frustration," writes Marc Santora.

Excerpts from article:


The car parked outside was almost certainly a tool of the Sunni insurgency. It was pocked with bullet holes and bore fake license plates. The trunk had cases of unused sniper bullets and a notice to a Shiite family telling them to abandon their home.

“Otherwise, your rotten heads will be cut off,” the note read.

The soldiers who came upon the car in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad were part of a joint American and Iraqi patrol, and the Americans were ready to take action. The Iraqi commander, however, taking orders by cellphone from the office of a top Sunni politician, said to back off: the car’s owner was known and protected at a high level.

For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.