Iraq's military "are now at the point where they have defeated the organized insurgency against the [government of Iraq] and are marginally self-sustaining," wrote Col. Timothy Reese. "This is a remarkable tale for which many can be justifiably proud. We have reached the point of diminishing returns, however, and need to find a new set of tools."
He listed a number of entrenched problems in Iraq, such as corruption in Iraq's ministries, lagging Sunni reconciliation efforts and little progress on the Kurdish and Kirkuk fronts.
Kirkuk, about 155 miles north of Baghdad, is one of Iraq's key oil-producing areas. Kurds want to make Kirkuk part of their autonomous northern region, but Arabs and Turkmen want the city to remain under the Iraqi central government authority.
Reuters reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki extended an olive branch to Kurdish officials this week, calling Kurdish President Masoud Barzani on Wednesday to congratulate after parliamentary and presidential polls sealed his re-election over the weekend.
In the memo, Reese also highlighted problems he perceived in the Iraqi military itself, including corruption, lack of initiative and an unwillingness to change.
Read the full memo here.
Just as al-Maliki declared the June 30 handover of Iraqi cities from U.S. troops a "great victory," so too should the United States "declare victory and bring our combat forces home," he concluded.
The U.S. military's current plan is to keep most of the 130,000 American forces in Iraq through the country's national elections, expected in January. After the elections, there will be a rapid reduction of U.S. forces and by the end of August 2010, the U.S. will have no more than 50,000 troops in Iraq, mostly as trainers and advisers.
The Reese memo was sent to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno.
A spokeswoman for Odierno said that the memo did not reflect the official stance of the United States military and was not intended for a broad audience, and that some of the problems the memo referred to had been solved since it was written in early July, the New York Times reported.
Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle, said of the memo: "The e-mail reflects one person's personal view at the time we were first implementing the Security Agreement post-30 June. Since that time many of the initial issues have been resolved and our partnerships with Iraqi Security Forces and [government of Iraq] partners now are even stronger than before 30 June," quoted the Times.
---- Compiled from wire reports and other media sources