Nearly four months after the fall of Ramadi, the American-backed effort by the Iraqi army to retake the provincial capital from Islamic State militants is moving slowly and fueling concerns that the Iraqis are not up to the task.

“I don’t think there is any stomach to retake Ramadi right now and suffer the kind of causalities that such a battle would incur,” said retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who served in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 as executive officer to retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who led the war effort at that time. Mansoor now teaches military history at Ohio State University.

Others say the Iraqi army suffers from a debilitating lack of manpower and has never restored its force structure after the mass desertions in 2014 following the Islamic State’s initial advance into Iraq. […]