Dead Soldiers Beef Up Iraqis' Troop Count

US audit says many in special forces aren't actually serving
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2008 2:08 PM CDT
Iraqi security forces detain several men in conjunction with the kidnap of Mosul University students in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, April 6, 2008.    (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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(Newser) – The number of men in Iraq's security forces is estimated to be a healthy 530,000. Trouble is, a "substantial number" of them are injured, dead, or AWOL, a new government audit says. The review casts doubt on Pentagon reports about Iraqi capabilities and questions Baghdad's ability to train its own forces, the Military Times reports.

The audit cites "uncertainty about the number of Iraqi personnel who are present for duty at any one time." The Pentagon says that the dead and wounded remain on the rolls so their families can collect benefits and get medical care, and that relying on raw numbers is not a "useful metric," USA Today notes. But Gen. Petraeus touted the raw enrollment figures before Congress with no such disclaimers.