Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thought for a Sunday Morning

We've had a lovely Labor Day weekend. Yesterday's morning cleanup yielded a deucluttered house, the trip to Oaks Park was fun, and the planked salmon made a delicious dinner.

This morning we had an "Avatar" sort of morning, enjoyed good coffee and bacon, looked at wedding pictures (again) to sate Little Miss' desire to see Mommy in her pretty dress. And we're getting ready for the Nickel Arcade.

So I had just a moment to stop and read the news. Which is, as always, filled with the most ridiculous crap - it is an ever-verdant source of wonder to me how much bandwidth the three (what, five?) conglomerates that own the news media can cram with worthless celebrity gossip and badly-informed "reportage".

So I pretty much skimmed over most of the "news". But this BBC article caught my eye. It's not really "news" to anyone who a) has been paying attention and b) isn't viewing the world through their "war on terror" goggles. This phrase caught my attention;
"Yet many Iraqis fear that with the Americans no longer here in force, and the Iraqi army and police still lacking sufficient training, the violent extremists on both the Sunni and the Shia sides could start fighting again."
And I paused, for a languid Sunday morning moment and wondered just exactly how many times we will have to hear that phrase again.

The U.S. Army and the various mercenary organizations associated with our mess-o-potamia have been "training" the IA and IP since, when, about 2004? At least since 2007 or 2008. So the senior IA units have at least 2-3 years and possibly as many as 6 years of guerrilla combat time?

And this isn't exactly crossing the Rhine or meeting the GSFG in the Fulda Gap, here. It's your basic light-infantry fight; IMTs, squad-to-company tactics...shoot, move, communicate. Basic trainees get it in 13 weeks. I went from civilian to combat unit in less than a year, expected to perform under fire. Entire armies like the Kitchener battalions of WW1 learn to do it in months, certainly in under a year.

How t'fuck much "training" do these mooks need..?

Just a idle thought for a holiday Sunday morning.

(Crossposted from GFT)


  1. Well, the IA is very well trained, the question then is not so much their training as it is where their loyalty goes too.
    If memory serves right I believe loyalty goes first to the allah, then family, followed by tribe, then to local community, and if heterogeneous maybe regional culture, and the last and most certainly the least on the list of loyalties, the nation.

    no, Iraq is a cluster-f~~k of epic proportions, and the sooner we unwrap our arms from around that tar baby, the sooner we can bug out.

  2. I understand that the Iraqis, like most armies (and I include the "armies" that are called police in places like Egypt) in much of the world, are not so much an army in the Western sense as a fighting tail.

    But what caught me was just that phrase "lacking sufficient training". They're being "trained" to be internal security police, f'rChrissake, it's not like you need to be the friggin' Delta Force to stand around and man checkpoints or kick in doors and arrest G's. Armies all over the world do it. It's not freaking military rocket science. Saddam's Army did a hell of a job of it against the Kurds and the Shiites - they would have run the table if we hadn't stopped them.

    What the hell is the malfunction with our Iraqis this time? don't suppose...could it it possible that all this talk of sticking around may have nothing to do with how "well trained" the IA/IP is?

    Sure, I know that's stupid - who the hell wants to keep sticking around a place chockablock with religious fanatics who hate you and want to kill you, hoping you will overreact and kill lots of civvies and make yourself look bad in their press?

    But that explanation seems to make as much sense as the "lack of training" one does, doesn't it?

  3. Chief,

    Yeah, I pretty much agree with the possible exception of a couple of points. First, I think there's a big difference between raising an Army to fight a foreign threat and raising an Army to fight internal threats. Secondly, (and BG will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong), a constant problem in Iraq and Afghanistan is developing a competent NCO and officer corps. We're able to train tactically proficient soldiers, but that doesn't mean much without leadership to hold it all together.

    I suspect the second point is probably tied closely to the first.

  4. Andy: My thoughts are that 1) an army doesn't have to be THAT good to fight "foreign threats" in the Gulf. Saddam's guys fought the Iranians pretty much even-up for eight years. They mopped the floor with the Kuwaiti "army" in '91 and would have could probably have rolled the Saudis the same way if we had let them. And how good was that army? And 2) the skillset needed to fight an internal rebellion is even smaller. The guys bombing religious parades and markets and attacking installations aren't the freaking Spetznaz, fercryingoutloud, but a bunch of mooks with even less training than the IA.

    And the same holds for the echelons above private. First, they don't have to be THAT great - they ain't fighting with Manstein in the Caucausus - and they've had, what, four or five years now? I was a buck sergeant at the end of my first enlistment, and a SSG after five years. My first platoon leader was a company commander after five years. And I suspect that there are a hell of a lot of Iraqi lieutenants and sergeants with experience from the First and Second Gulf Wars who weren't too deeply Baathified to be promoted in the new IA.

    And lets not forget the Iranians, who are the real "allies" of the current Shia government (tho what happens after the current deadlock is resolved - assuming it ever is short of civil war - may change that). They have a ton of experience suppressing revolts and will provide a fairly comfortable umbrella against any intrusion from the south and west...

    I won't argue that the there are factions in the U.S. who have reasons for wanting to keep a couple of divisions worth of troops in country. I, personally, think that they are dumb reasons, and that the potential downside exceeds the potential upside by several orders of magnitude. But I accept that tthere ARE arguments to be made for staying.

    But "the IA/IP isn't trained well enough" doesn't seem like a valid one, and to hear it over and over again just makes me suspicious...

  5. To a first world professional soldier, I'm sure the Iraqi army could run for 20 more years and *still* need more training. It needs to develop all sorts of institutional mechanisms whose building takes a lot more time than marksmanship training.

    Still, you don't have to outrun the proverbial bear, only your buddy. In this case the Sunni and Shiite "extremists". And that comes down to being an effective damper in *their* eyes.

    I suspect that a potential insurgents evaluation takes into account all sorts of things completely invisible to a western military observer (e.g. clan, language, temporary political arrangements).

    So, when a BBC reporter asks for an opinion from an American officer, he will offer the old "more training" chestnut in lieu of a more honest "dunno" or the scandalous "They still need us because we require them to need us".

  6. In Iraq (as in Afghanistan), illiteracy is a basic problem (aside from every other problem).
    [Pilot Programs Aims to Teach Basic Literacy.]

    I read yesterday that 18% of the Afghan Police recruits lack an elementary school education. Not a good starting point.

  7. In Iraq (as in Afghanistan), illiteracy is a basic problem (aside from every other problem).
    [Pilot Programs Aims to Teach Basic Literacy.]

    I read yesterday that 18% of the Afghan Police recruits lack an elementary school education. Not a good starting point.