The collapse of the Iraqi Army
Where are the Americans? Let's
get 'em boys
Ok, I've fairly been taken to task for suggesting that there are parks and parks full of artillery waiting to be pulled out and used against Americans and their bases.
And while there is an insane amount of war booty left in Iraq, that's really short hand for what I think will happen. I don't mean to be glib about this, either.
Oh, by the end, like at Dien Bieh Phu, if the Americans stay in their bases, they will be dodging artillery, but it's not that simple and I shouldn't make it seem that simple. But sometimes, what's in my head doesn't always make it on the screen.
So, here's what I think will happen:
I assume that the Iranians have been providing covert training and support for serveral Shia militias and that they regularly use the main Shia festivals to introduce their agents to Iraq, who then just disappear into the cities. I also assume the Syrians have done the same for the Sunnis to a smaller extent.
The Iraqi Army is not an army in the sense of serving a national government. It is basically an auxillary to US forces, more akin to the foreign legions of the Wehrmacht and SS than even the British colonial Army. They don't even serve their generals. Sure, we get tough talk on the TV for our benefit, but the reality is much less pleasant. Which is that the Iraqi Army is mostly a jobs program for the Shia and the Sunnis which joined up. As well as a way to control the Kurdish Pershmega. What it is not is a national army like Iran or Turkey has, or even the ARVN
Sure, they can take on the guerrillas, but for the most part, the units are completely inflitrated and their effectiveness limited by the web of spies in and around their units.
The current US Army training program harks back to the KATUSA program of the Korean war, where South Korean units were integrated into US units to help them reach combat effectiveness. The difference is that the South Koreans had every reason to fight and just needed training to become proficient. The Iraqis are mainly looking for a paycheck, and some might include revenge. But the Iraqis go out every day, get paid, and do their jobs under a blanket of fear I've never heard of.
Even the Hiwis serving the Germans on the Eastern Front didn't hide their faces, even though the Red Army would kill them on the spot.
The day when the Army hides their faces so their neighbors won't tell the boys and have them killed is the day when you know that Army is a fraud. It may run missions, but it isn't a viable force and everyone knows it. It is a joke to imagine that the "Iraqis will stand up". Stand up to do what? Protect our bases and oil? Kill more Iraqis?
The reason that firing the Army, the bright idea of Walter Slocombe and his boss Viceroy Paul Brember, at the behest of Chalabi and the exiles, was such a dumb, no massively fucked up idea, is that their replacement was the militias. The Badr Organization, once known as SCIRI, or Iran's favorite Iraqis, is now running the Interior ministry and sending the Wolf Brigade out to murder Sunnis with their death squads.
Instead of keeping some kind of unit cohesion, which would have radically slowed the growth of the Mahdi militia as well as the guerrillas, you had thousands of trained officers and NCO's with no way to feed their families. What people forgot was that the bulk of the Iraqi Army was Shia, not Sunni. So when they lost their jobs, some joined the guerrillas, and a lot more provided the backbone of the Mahdi Army. The following cohorts which would have been drafted, instead joined up with Sadr and now patrol the streets in soccer jerseys and AK's.
So you had the worst of both worlds. The professional Iraqi Army largely supporting the guerrillas or staying home, and young Shia free to become Mahdists.
What continuely surprises me is that the Iraqi Army needs to train their recruits. All but the youngest should have been drafted into the Army. But it seems the US isn't getting the best and brightest, just those who need a paycheck desperately.
The paradox of the US dealing with the Iraqi Army is this: if they arm them properly, they may defect, if they don't, morale is a joke.
How would you feel if you were sent to fight in pickups while your American allies laughed. Or they dug up some 40 year old APC's to ride in. What would you think the Americans had in store for you? Cannon fodder come to mind?
This is the newest iteration of the AK. The one the Iraqis are using are about 40 years old and still using the 7.62 round. This model is made of various plastics, uses a lighter 5.45 round and is but one of several new weapons the Russians have made since the end of the Cold War.
But the Iraqis are stuck using AK's, even their "elite" units, which not only ads to their bulk, but sends a clear message. When every half dick merc can have the super duper weapon of his dreams, Iraqis are told, oh no, you can't have a modern assault rifle. Yes, there are massive stocks of these weapons, but they don't belong in front line units. In many cases, the guerrillas are armed as well or better than our auxilliaries. And oddly enough, they seem to have access to new SAMS, or as they're called in the trade MANPADS
So where does the King of War enter the picture? Well, not in the day to day war we're fighting now. But artillery is usually the last, nasty surprise before you leave a guerrilla war as the French found out.
I think we're about to get a shock about how quickly the Shia can upgrade their forces. The Sunni are probbaly close to what they can do. But the Shia have money and I would not be surprised to see PMC's contracting with them, Pakistanis and Indian Muslim and Egyptians first, mostly for protection, then in quiet training deals. This hasn't happened so far because of US influence, but once that lessens, expect the contractor to look for a new client. I don't think it would be hard to get Ghurkas and Fijians if they were paid like westerners.
First. there are thousands of ex-artillerymen floating around, so with some help from Iran, manning new, refurbuished and borrowed weapons would be far from impossible. Also, the Iraqi auxillaries do have some limited stocks of artillery.
But you won't see more than mortars until the very end.
Why? The US Air Force.
Here's the scenario: It's October, the Iraqi government has formally demanded the withdrawl of US troops from Iraq in 60 days. The US says no, and claims the Sadr-owned government hasn't the legal power to demand this.
The new Sadrist/Badr government decided, we run the country and they're gonna leave. So they go on the market and fix what they can find and buy what they don't have. All you need are three or four batteries of 122mm guns, layed out around Balad and you have a problem.
Sure, the AF can send up planes, but if you put the guns in the middle of neighborhoods, how many civilians can you kill? You can't exactly launch a cluster bomb strike next to a mosque. Because the next pictures will be of dead women and children.
Put some kids with SA-16's on the roofs, and you have a problem.
The other scenario is a full US retreat and then they dig up the guns they have to say farewell across various chokepoints, like the Tigris bridges.
The point is not to actually damage the US, but to send a message that the US was defeated. Nothing like screaming artillery, effective or not, to send that message.
Eitherway, my point is not that artillery is going to be used as a military weapon, mortars are effective now, but as a political statement to show US weakness and Iraqi strength.
If the US actually attacks Iran, this could compress into weeks, not months.
Let me tell you a story about the Iranians.
In the mid-1980's, they would start their offensives by sending Basijis across the lines to clear minefields.
The Basiji were usually 12 and over.
How did they clear the minefields?
By running over them.
Before we bomb Iran, we should remember we are dealing with people who will arm children and send them to clear mines with their bodies.
posted by Steve @ 8:46:00 AM