The neocon and INC run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) (Bremer) had a peculiar "dream" for the security of the "new Iraq."
They seem to have believed that Iraq in the aftermath of the capture of Baghdad was tabula raza, a clean slate, something like Cambodia in the "Year Zero," or France in the aftermath of the great revolution.
Just about all civil and military institutions of government were abolished and then, as they were recreated, they were repeatedly purged of Sunni and Shia members of the Baath Party. This was done by the decree of a De-Baathification agency effectively headed by Ahmad Chalabi. He was evidently determined to get rid of as many possible future rivals for power as possible and so the D-Baathification agency delved deep and eliminated most of the established expertise in the previous government down to the level of school teachers and postmasters.
As we all know, the Iraqi Army was done away with. This pushed several hundred thousand officers and men out into the street. Many of them have joined the guerrillas with the result that we have learned that they are better fighters than many had thought.
The CPA/Bremer/Chalabi thingy then had to design new security forces. They had the idea of creating an internal security force to be made up largely of former tribal and religious militias. This was to be called the "National Guard." (Haris Watani) Such groups in the Arab World usually are representative of major players in the political game and have the function of maintaining the status quo while keeping some potential dissident group in check. The Saudi National Guard is made up of Beduins from trusted tribes and it plays exactly this role. Not surprisingly, the Iraqi National Guard was largely made up of former Shia and Kurdish militiamen. Since the role of the National Guard was internal security it was not anticipated that it would need armored vehicles or artillery, and they received none. Afer all, how much heavy equipment does "head busting" require?
It was also envisioned that there should be an army (jaysh). This force was to be kept small, kept deployed for frontier defense and not allowed to participate in internal security operations, ever.
The army was also not to be allowed to be big enough or strong enough to have the capability to attack its neighbors. Following this line of reasoning, the army was not to be allowed to have armored vehicles or artillery. There is a problem with this reasoning. Armies which are not strong enough to attack neighbors may not be strong enough to defend against them. Military forces should be "sized" on the basis of the CAPABILITIES of potential enemies. Only a fool "sizes" his armed forces on the basis of an estimate of the INTENTIONS of possible enemies. Intentions are ephemera. Capabilities are real. The country’s potential external military threats are Iran and Turkey. I judge that they are the only neighboring external powers with the capability to invade Iraq successfully. Iran and Turkey both have large armed forces heavily endowed withthe very gear which neither the National Guard nor new Iraqi Army were issued. Does that make sense?
As soon as the CPA abomination ended, one of the first things Allawi’s government did was to merge the National Guard into the army and then start trying to use this half-trained (created from nothing) force against the growing internal security threat, Nobody seems to have taken seriously the notion that eventually this new Iraqi force would have to be able to take on all those guerrillas and Jihadis as well as defend the borders against Iran and Turkey. So far as I know there is one battalion of tanks in the force (50 odd tanks) and I have seen no artillery.
People who like to think themselves "modern" often opine that all that heavy gear isn’t needed in a war against guerrillas. If you think that, go ask the US Army and Marines if they do not want to keep the tanks and Bradleys that they have in Iraq. Armored fire support makes the actual combat that happens unfair to the enemy and brings victory and lower casualties for our side. Unfair is good in war so long as the unfairness favors our side.
We are going to start trying to withdraw from Iraq in the new year. As our numbers fall we will be able to do less and less, and the Iraqis will have to do more and more. We will inevitably have to leave larger and larger parts of the country to them in the hope that they will provide the security upon which the existence of the Baghdad government will depend.
Will they have tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery? How about helicopters and just plain old body armor? How about it?
I sure hope that we are going to do the right thing by these people. If not, then they are really "in for it."