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Officer hits hard at handling of war

Criticism of generals from an active-duty officer is unusual. Deficiencies cited included too few troops.

BAGHDAD - An active-duty U.S. Army officer has taken the unusual step of openly criticizing the way generals have handled the Iraq war, accusing them of failing to prepare their forces for an insurgency and misleading Congress about the situation here.

"For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces, and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq," Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote in an article published yesterday in the Armed Forces Journal.

"In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends an even wider and more destructive regional war," he said.

Several retired U.S. generals have delivered similar criticism, questioning planning for the Iraq conflict as well as the management competence of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Public criticism from an active-duty officer is rare and may be a sign of growing discontent among military leaders at a critical time in the U.S. military mission here.

An antiwar group, Appeal for Redress, says about 2,000 active-duty personnel and veterans have signed a petition calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

One of its founders, Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, has said 60 percent of the members had served in Iraq. There are about 1.4 million active-duty personnel in the U.S. military.

In the article, Yingling, deputy commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, wrote that the generals went into Iraq prepared for a high-tech conventional war but with too few soldiers.

They also had no coherent plan for postwar stabilization and failed to tell the American public about the intensity of the insurgency, he wrote.

"The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship," wrote Yingling, who has served two tours in Iraq, as well as in Bosnia and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

In February, the U.S. forces launched the Baghdad security operation, which calls for deploying about 28,000 additional American troops as well as thousands of Iraqi soldiers. Most will try to secure Baghdad.

Yingling welcomed the change but suggested it was too little, too late.

During the last decade, U.S. forces have done little to prepare for the kind of brutal, adaptive insurgencies they are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Yingling said.

"Given the lack of troop strength," he wrote, "not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq."

On Other Fronts

The U.S. military yesterday said three Marines were killed Thursday in fighting in Anbar province, a

Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

The deaths raised to at least 3,337 members of the U.S. military who have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 19 people were reported killed or found dead by Iraqi police, including 16 bullet-riddled bodies - seven in Baghdad, six pulled from the Tigris River south

of the capital, and three

in the northeastern city

of Baqubah.

A roadside bomb killed

a civilian after missing its target of a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul.

A human-rights activist

was shot to death in

the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said.

A mortar attack killed a Shiite man and wounded another in Nahrawan,

east of Baghdad.

U.S.-led forces staged a series of raids, capturing nine suspected insurgents who were linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq - five in Mosul, one near Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad, one in the capital, and two near Ramadi.

Four suspected members

of a cell believed to be smuggling sophisticated roadside bombs known

as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran also were captured during a raid in the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City, the military said.

- Associated PressEndText

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