The US programme to train Iraqi police has yet to win Baghdad's support, with the minister in charge saying the training was unnecessary and questioning its benefits, a watchdog said on Monday.
The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) criticised the State Department, which is in charge of police training, for not compiling detailed assessments and measurable goals for the police, arguing that the absence of such targets risked turning the programme into a "bottomless pit".
The police training programme is a key responsibility transferred to the State Department from the US military as the latter withdraws from the country.
Some 39,000 troops still in Iraq on 16 bases will leave by the end of the year, US President Barack Obama confirmed on Friday.
SIGIR published an account of a meeting with Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi in which he told the watchdog of the training programme: "I don't need it. I won't ask for it."
"What tangible benefit will Iraqis see from this police training programme?" Assadi asked rhetorically, according to the SIGIR account.
He suggested the US "take the programme money and the overhead money and use it for something that can benefit the people of the United States, because there will be very little benefit to the MOI (Iraq's Ministry of Interior)."
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In a separate report, also published on Monday, the watchdog noted that the State Department "has not yet secured written commitments from the GOI (government of Iraq) regarding either its support for the PDP (Police Development Programme) or its planned financial contributions."
In the report, SIGIR said the State Department had "provided no evidence that the MOI agrees with or will accept the goals, objectives, and performance measures that INL (the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) determined the MOI should achieve."
It stated the State Department "agrees with SIGIR's recommendations" that it finalise a written agreement with Iraqi authorities outlining their agreement with the programme and ensuring their financial commitment.
The SIGIR report notes that just 12 percent of programme funds for the last three months of 2011 will be used for the advising, mentoring and developing of Iraq's police.
The remainder will be spent on security, life support, and the maintenance of helicopters.
It also pointed out that Washington has spent around $8 billion (5.8 billion euros) to train, hire and equip the Iraqi police since 2003. By 2010, Iraq had 412,000 police officers.
SIGIR's report criticised the State Department for lacking an up-to-date assessment of the capabilities of the Iraqi police, as well as not having measurable goals over the course of the five-year programme.
"The plans provided by INL have progressed," the report noted, but added: "However, a comprehensive and detailed plan, based on a current police force capability assessment and with INL-focused metrics, is still lacking."
It said: "Without specific goals, objectives, and performance measures, the PDP could become a 'bottomless pit' for US dollars intended for mentoring, advising, and training the Iraqi police forces."