US troops not up to par in Iraq
Iraqi troops on patrol
UK officer slams US Iraq tactics
By Matthew Davis
BBC News, Washington
A senior British Army officer has sparked indignation in the US with a scathing article criticising the US Army's performance in Iraq.
Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster said US tactics early in the occupation had alienated Iraqis and exacerbated problems for the coalition.
Officers displayed cultural ignorance, self-righteousness, over-optimism and unproductive management, he said.
The article, in Military Review, has drawn US criticism but also approval.
In it Brig Aylwin-Foster says American officers displayed such cultural insensitivities that it "arguably amounted to institutional racism" and may have helped spur the insurgency.
While the army is "indisputably the master of conventional war fighting, it is notably less proficient in... what the US defence community often calls Operations Other Than War," the officer wrote.
Yet the initial response from many US military officers was hostile.
'It made me upset'
Col Kevin Benson, commander of the US Army's elite School of Advanced Military Studies, said his first reaction was that Brig Aylwin-Foster was "an insufferable British snob".
"Some of this is pretty powerful stuff and it made me a little upset," the colonel told the BBC.
"We paid a great deal of attention to the tribal interactions within Iraq and on making commanders in the field aware of the sensitivities," he said.
"And I certainly don't recognise what he says about the de-professionalisation of the US Army.
"But sometimes good articles do make you angry. We should publish articles like this. We are in a war and we must always be thinking of how we can improve the way we operate."
It is fair to note that the Brits have usually had a low opinion of American infantry skills, but the issues we see here go way beyond that.
The next post will excerpt the Military Review article.
posted by Steve @ 12:45:00 AM