Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of Iraq's Multinational Division North, whose area of responsibility includes the volatile Diyala province, told Pentagon reporters this morning that he has seen "foot-dragging" within the Ministry of the Interior in response to U.S. military efforts to increase the number of Sunni hires within the police force.
The "most dire" example, he said, includes a failure to hire some 6,000 police nominated by the U.S. military in Diyala province, where Shiites dominate the police force.
"We have been trying to get an additional 6,000 police hired for the last several months," said Mixon, who was recently tapped to head U.S. Army Pacific. "It's been approved by the prime minister, but it appears that there is some foot-dragging going on in the MOI that needs to be stopped."
What's more, he added, "we'd like to achieve a balance, particularly by neighborhood." He expressed frustration with the Iraqi government. "We bought time for the government to act--they need to act."
He said that foreign fighters from Syria come across the border into Iraq at the rate of 30 to 40 per month. Fewer than 1 percent of the individuals captured in his area of command are foreign fighters, he added.
By Anna Mulrine