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Your Iraqi Army


Earlier this week, a large group of Iraqi police commandos emptied out the higher education ministry. This raid took 50 brand new pick up trucks.

The regular police watched this happen.

Then, yesterday, Iraqi police hijacked and ambushed a mercenary protected convoy.

When you read about this in the MSM, they will use weasel words like "people in police uniforms".  Well, yes, they were. They were police in police uniforms working on behalf of their militia leaders.

What Americans have been pretending for a long time is that Iraq is actually training an army. It isn't doing anything of the sort. It is arming militias.

Why don't people realize this? Because idiots like Ken Pollock never realized that many of Saddam's strategic problems were Iraqi strategic problems, and not just peculiar to him. Anyone surprised that the Iraqi Army is a factionalized mess hasn't been paying much attention since 1980.

Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld tried to characterize the Iraqi Army as a nest of Bathists. I believe to this day that the Army was demobilized so that they couldn't oppose the rise of Ahmed Chalabi. Now, that may seem like a contradiction, but it isn't. The Army was largely Shia. While its elite units might have been Sunni, the bulk of it's regular formations were Shia. The last thing Chalabi wanted was a Shia power base in the Army opposing him. That one decision to help Chalabi, now decamped to London, is the one which led to all the other bad ones.

Now, the unemployed Shia went to join the new military and the militias, often both at the same time.

See, Saddam never trusted his own army. He had the Republican Guard, mostly Sunni formations, and the Special Republican Guard, his 12,000 man personal bodyguard, to protect him from the rest of the Army. So the Iraqi military was always factionalized. What the Americans thought they could do is paper over this and build a fiction of national unity. There was little to no analysis of what had been working in Iraq and how to replace them. Instead, the goal was to remake the American Army in Iraqi form.

But that would prove to be impossible. Shia units would not kill Shias and Sunni units would not attack their insurgent cousins. When Kurdish units volunteered to join in the battle for Fallujah, other Iraqis were enraged.

The constant call for more trainers and more support for the Iraqi forces is a forlorn hope. They are already arresting senior commanders for fomenting sectarian violence. More training just means a more efficient militia force.

What the US was hoping was that new national institutions would create national unity and a US ally. Instead, it has unleashed the Shia to finally dominate the land mass of Iraq. Because the new government has no power outside of the Green Zone.

But then, it was clear that the US always viewed their Iraqi auxillaries with a wary eye. They have never given them the equipment that they need to actually fight effectively. Their AK's are 30 years old, and they have not been able to purchase lighter, more modern weapons. They have no heavy weapons, and their tactical training is rudimentary. Most US soldiers hold Iraqis in racist contempt, and the Iraqi units lack of trustworthiness is clear.

In one incident reported by the New York Times, a Marine patrol was ambushed. The Iraqi soldier with the patrol ran off. Time and again, the Iraqi Army will not fight when pressed. In another incident, Army units let Mahdi militia members pass their lines.

The police and paramilitaries are even worse. Most Iraqis think they are acting as death squads or protecting them. Most Iraqis are likely to shoot at units moving at night in their neighborhoods.

When people say that they want the Iraq Army to stand up, it's an impossible task. There is no Iraqi Army, just militias in uniform

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Steve Gilliard

Steve Gilliard