At the Los Angeles Times, "U.S. faces an uphill effort in helping build an Iraqi force that can retake Mosul":
As machine guns rattled Thursday from a nearby firing range, Iraqi recruits at this dusty base outside Baghdad trained on tactics, radios, firing mortars and tanks before a bevy of visiting Pentagon brass.Actually, no.
But off to the side, their trainers, mostly from Spain and Portugal, said the soldiers often show up late for training courses or don't show up at all.
"The last group we had here was a complete disaster," said Spanish army Maj. Ignacio "Nacho" Arias. "They would come and go without permission."
The troubles at this training base reflect broader difficulties in building an Iraqi ground force capable of pushing entrenched Islamic State fighters out of Mosul, the militants' self-declared capital in Iraq, a priority for the White House and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi's government.
The Pentagon announced in March 2015 that an Iraqi offensive on the strategic city was all but imminent. But those ambitious plans were repeatedly shelved as Iraqi troops struggled to push the militants out of smaller cities and towns.
Iraqi forces finally launched their long-delayed assault toward Mosul last month. It quickly stalled.
The sluggish pace has frustrated U.S. commanders and White House officials, who had hoped to recapture the heavily defended northern city and deal a decisive blow to the militants before President Obama leaves office in January.
Obama made it clear this week that he isn't very optimistic.
"My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall," he said Monday in an interview with CBS News.
"We're not doing the fighting ourselves, but when we provide training, when we provide special forces who are backing them up, when we are gaining intelligence … what we've seen is we can continually tighten the noose," he added...
We're not going to tighten the noose unless the U.S. commits to a substantially larger U.S. ground presence, and that's not likely to happen under this administration, and it might not happen under the next one.
But continue reading.