America needs to develop ‘Plan B’ for helping Iraq fight Islamic State

U.S. military personnel hoping to help Iraq build an army capable of taking on Islamic State terrorists will not meet their goal of training 24,000 troops by this fall, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has told members of Congress.

It is not that American trainers cannot handle the task. The problem is that not enough Iraqis are enlisting in the army.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee only enough Iraqi recruits are available to have about 7,000 trained by fall.

Just a few weeks ago, Carter was in a bit of hot water with the White House when he complained that Iraqi troops lack the will to fight against the IS. That came not long after Iraqis who were supposed to defend Ramadi fled in terror as IS forces approached.

But clearly,?Carter is right. U.S. officials from President Barack Obama on down need to understand that, if they do not already. And they need to determine whether there is any possibility the outlook will change.

“As I’ve told Iraqi leaders, while the United States is open to supporting Iraq more than we already are, we must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government,” Carter commented to lawmakers.

He is absolutely right. But in addition to demanding more from Iraqis, U.S. officials should be reweighing their options. If there is a backup plan for Iraq, it appears it is time to get ready to implement it. If not, then one needs to be prepared immediately.