The number of Iraqi army battalions judged by their American trainers to be capable of fighting the insurgency without U.S. help has slipped from one to none since September, Defense Department officials said Friday.
But the number of Iraqi battalions capable of leading the battle, with U.S. troops in a support role, has grown by nearly 50 percent. And the number of battalions actually engaged in combat has increased by 11 percent.
The U.S. military says its short-term goal is to train more Iraqi units to a level where they can lead the fight, since that allows American troops to focus on other tasks besides combat and could reduce U.S. casualties.
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