Plus and Minus in Iraq’s Forces

"Okay, men, it’s time to buck up and show our mettle," said a U.S. Special Forces soldier, acting as platoon commander, who allowed reporters to accompany the patrol on the condition that he not be named. "We can’t let this stop us. We need payback!"  Washpost

"Because the ranks of the Iraqi police force and army are filled mostly with Shiite Arabs and ethnic Kurds, they are perceived in many of the country’s Sunni sections not as national forces but as factional hit squads bent on persecution. The ethnic tensions were evident in Tall Afar, a city of just over 200,000 predominated by Sunni Turkmens."  Washpost

"What we’re working toward is a national army, a national security force, not a Shiite or a Kurdish force, and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know the situation," said Maj. Chris Kennedy, the 3rd Armored Cavalry’s executive officer. "We just had a recruiting drive for the army and got 400 recruits to sign up. Almost all of them are Sunnis. They will start basic training soon." 

The view from Alexandria:

-We are doing much better in training Iraqi combat units.  In some cases this is facilitated by integrating existing factional militia units into the new Iraqi forces.  These people already have quite a lot of combat experience (against other Iraqis).  Their senior leaders are particularly seasoned as is the commander of the 3rd Iraqi Division at Tel Afar. (He was formerly a senior leader of the Kurdish Pesh Merga)

-US Special Forces (Green Berets) are providing effective low level leadership and counseling for these new Iraqi units.  I have been an advocate of this kind of "advising" since I have done it myself and know that it works.  The experience of this kind of leadership will inspire the emergence of native junior leaders.  It always does so.  Unfortunately, the need for this "coaching" shows that the process of creating new, cohesive units is going to take a while.  The Iraqi platoon mentioned in the article would have just sat down if the American SF sergeant had not gotten them up and moving.

-The US Command is focused on the need to get Sunnis (both Arab and Turkmen) into the forces.   This is a sound policy.  The difficulty in doing so is that for many of the potential recruits the choice of doing so involves cutting themselves off from much of their own communities, but it is worth trying.

Bottom Line:  We are doing much better, but, the clock is running.

Pat Lang

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2 Responses to Plus and Minus in Iraq’s Forces

  1. Pat Lang says:

    What is the “head of the snake?” You understand that there are just as many anti-Western fanatics among the Shia? pl

  2. Pat Lang says:

    You are far too blood thirsty for me to deal with. Ever actually serve or is this all imagination?

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