The Iraqi Army
Who do they serve?
Towards the end of the Roman Empire, starting around 250AD, the Roman Army began to change. The responsibilities of Empire had forced the Romans to rely more and more on auxilliaries, people who had less and less loyalty to Rome and more loyalty to their chieftains. It was a short term solution to a long term problem, the inability to manage their empire.
Eventually, they would turn on the Romans and sack Rome.
We have built an Iraqi Army with no loyalty to the state. It is loyal, barely, to its commanders, a paycheck, but not the state. The exiles thought that once they got the Army out of the way, they could create a new state, with new structures. Which only proves that many of them spent too many years as academics.
Hatred for Saddam cannot build a state. There has to be a positive sense of national identity to build a government. But the exiles thought they would be welcomed with open arms, and embraced. Instead, they were rejected outright, and only those who had suffered under Saddam had any credibility.
Which meant that SCIRI, the Dawa, and the Sadrists would play an increasingly large role in post-Saddam Iraqi politics, because they were the people with the actual support.
The dissolution of the Army meant that many of the younger officers would join the resistance, out of pride, money, revenge.
Former Iraqi officers know which side pays better and treats them with respect. The resistance doesn't force them to sit for lectures on human rights, while Americans call them haji behind their backs.
The problem with the current Iraqi Army is that the main motivator of enlistment is a paycheck. They are riven with spies and people who simply have no motivation to fight. When an Iraqi unit was told they would have to serve outside their home community, they took off their uniforms and left, like a group of renaissance mercenaries. It was an amazing sight.
When people talk about the Iraqis stepping up, that's a fantasy term. There are Iraqi Army factions, units loyal to Sadr or Hakim, but no one loyal to the government. Even the embassy reports that the security for the green zone has contempt for the Iraqi employees of the US.
Iraqi units often wear masks on patrol, while the guerrillas openly pose with weapons. Think about their morale levels. You cannot tell people you're in the army, you hide your faces, you have to worry about your neighbors.
The current Prime Minister stood up and said he would secure Baghdad and did anything but. Carbombapalooza is more like it. It is this inherent weakness of a government closer to the Kerenesky government than a functioning one, that dooms this adventure in Iraq. Maliki has no guns and no power outside of what the US provides.
And with six potential atrocities committed by American troops, the powerlessness of the Iraqi government comes in stark relief. How much more can Sistani and Sadr tolerate? What new alleged atrocity will finally tip the scale against the weak and feckless Iraqi government?
The key question, the one every US commander must have in his head, is when does the Iraqi Army turn. We've made it clear they're our inferiors in every way possible. There's already one case of Iraqi soldiers killing Americans in cold blood.
You have soldiers loyal to a militia leader, increasing reports of American crimes against Iraqis, and a refusal to arm them properly, for obvious reasons. At what point do the soldiers show their true loyalities?
posted by Steve @ 3:15:00 AM