Several years and $25 billion later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey says that nearly half of the Iraqi army is too heavily populated with Shiite fighters to credibly confront ISIS. As Fox News reported, Dempsey made the comments in Paris on Wednesday:
The general said that U.S. assessors who had spent the summer observing Iraq's security forces concluded that 26 of the army's 50 brigades would be capable of confronting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS."
According to the AP, Dempsey praised the useful half saying that “they appear to have a national instinct, instead of a sectarian instinct.” The other half, not so much.
The sectarian instinct is what has driven some Iraqis Sunnis to join up with ISIS as Iraq's Shiite-led political leadership marginalized the country's minorities, including the Sunnis and the Kurds. Of course, the sectarian instinct is also at the center of a thousand-year rift between Sunni and Shia.
The general's comments came just one day after he suggested that maybe there would be American ground troops in Iraq again someday, a suggestion from which, as we noted earlier, the White House immediately distanced itself.