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US Papers Sun: Ready or Not!
No Ban on Mine-Resistant Vehicles in Iraqi Cities, Oil Auction
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/28/2009 02:00 AM ET
Well, just two days away from the 30th, and nary a single bombing story. We’re still figuring out what “leaving the cities” means, and oil contracts are imminent... again.

From Iraq
Rod Nordland of the New York Times has about the best a big-picture look to date at the nature of what US operations in Iraq are likely to resemble, come July 1. It begins with a telling and humorous “mistranslation” at a joint US/Iraqi press conference with Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jameel Birwari, commander of the Iraqi Special Forces’ First Brigade.
Come July 1, most American combat troops remaining in the cities will become trainers. In some cases that will be nothing more than a semantic dodge. For the most part, it really will be happening, and many Iraqi troops will indeed be on their own by Wednesday.

Except, that is, for their embedded trainers and advisers, who will be fairly numerous — at least 10,000 now, according to military estimates, rising to 35,000 to 50,000 by the high point, according to a Congressional Research Service report last month. In addition, each team will need force protection — that is, other American troops to guard the trainers, mostly from Iraqis they’re teamed with. They will number from 10 to 20 per team of trainers. The fear of fragging is so strong that most trainers live in compounds fortified against the people they’re training, a sort of American fort within the Iraqi fort.
“Fobbits,” or huge forward operating bases where many US soldiers will end up are explained, parallels with US trainers in Vietnam are mentioned, and Nordland calls Iran a gorilla. Read it!

Ernesto Londoño of the Washington Post irons out previous statements made by US military officials about a possible ban on GIs using the mine-resistant and comically large MRAP vehicles in Iraq’s cities. It turns out that we can still look forward to them causing traffic jams for months to come.
The Friday report quoted a lieutenant in Baghdad whose platoon lost two MRAPs last week in powerful roadside bombings. The lieutenant said he feared the attacks would have killed soldiers if they had been in Humvees. The Pentagon has spent billions of dollars on MRAPs since 2007. The vehicles are widely credited with helping reduce the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

The officers said the MRAP ban was one of several efforts by the military to assume a lower profile after Tuesday, the first deadline in a security pact between Iraq and the United States that charts out the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Londoño and K.I. Ibrahim continue the Washington Post’s Iraq coverage with an oil story. Eight contracts for development of six Iraqi oil fields and two gas fields are set for Monday and Tuesday. Though international oil companies probably had their hopes up for a deal similar to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company did in Iran (where they refused to even show the accounting books to the locals), they’re accepting the 20-year service contracts that are being offered, even with the $3 billion in loans the Iraqi government is demanding to the winning bidders. Any way to get your hands dirty with black gold (Texas tea to some) seems to be profitable. The normal barrel numbers are gone over, but so is potential fallout from the deals for al-Maliki.
The government, keenly aware of the potential for controversy and political fallout, has sought to portray the process as transparent. Bidders will submit sealed proposals that will be evaluated using a set formula during televised sessions.

The bidding process and its outcome could have political consequences for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is expected to seek reelection in January. Many Iraqis still view Maliki as somewhat beholden to the U.S. government, and his rivals could use the oil issue to portray him as a sellout.
Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Sunday Editions.

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