IRAQI ARMY UPDATE….The LA Times reports on a recent operation in Baghdad that was conducted with the Iraqi army’s 9th Mechanized Division, the most highly regarded Iraqi unit in the country:

The offensive was initially billed by U.S. officials in Baghdad as an Iraqi-led success and a case study in support of the Pentagon’s increasing reliance on using American troops as military advisors as a way to shift security responsibilities to Iraqi soldiers.

….But interviews at their joint Rustamiya base with U.S. advisors and Iraqi soldiers involved in Friday’s battle revealed a different story. The operation was hastily prepared and badly executed, they said, and plans to let the Iraqis take the lead in the battle were quickly scrapped.

“It started out that way,” [Staff Sgt. Michael] Baxter said. “But five minutes into it, we had to take over.”

Read the rest for the whole dismal story, and then understand that this was actually the best case: the 9th Division is primarily Shiite, and they were unable/unwilling to perform decently even in a battle against a Sunni stronghold. But at least they went into battle. What if they had been ordered into battle against Shiites? According to the Times, “U.S. and Iraqi officers said they doubted the troops would obey if ordered to fight in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad such as Sadr City.”

I can’t wait to see what the Baker Commission recommends we do about this.