Midnight Raid with the Iraqi Army
Bill Ardolino tagged along on a nighttime raid with an American Marine Military Transition Team (MiTT) and elements of the Second Brigade, Third Battalion, First Company of the Iraqi Army. He provides a photo essay with commentary.
He captures the bravery of the Marines and the difficulties of creating a professional force in short order. We also see the problems of fighting a counterinsurgency with foreign troops trained for conventional combat operations. It’s almost impossible to do COIN if you don’t understand the culture and the young Marines clearly don’t–and are too busy dodging bullets to learn on the fly.
I wouldn’t take a negative lesson away from the story. If the Iraqi army can sort out payroll, corruption and logistics issues, I’m fairly confident that they will do well in Anbar if/when we leave. Hopefully, they’ll continue to have US advisors for at least a couple more years.
It’s almost impossible to do COIN if you don’t understand the culture and the young Marines clearly don’t—and are too busy dodging bullets to learn on the fly.
I’d disagree a bit with this – they’re learning, but the primary strategy right now puts the locals in the lead. This would be a great strategy if the locals were not in the lead on logistics, pay, etc., and Americans had firing/hiring authority over leadership.
Listen, these guys are doing their best. Im not sure what a Kerry-esque attack on the troops’ intellect offers.
It’s true that we’ve been “putting locals in the lead” for quite some time. I think it’s been our biggest mistake, especially once we disbanded the existing Iraqi army and started from scratch. Not only are the locals far from being a professional force, they’re so badly infiltrated by the enemy as to be a hindrance.
I’m also not sure what to take away from quotes like “someone probably got his prayer on and decided to sling a few shots” than “effing ragheads.”
This, however, is encouraging:
That comports with everything I’ve read and seen.
As my endless writings on the topic attest, I am very anti-anti-Islam, but found absolutely no offense to the “got his prayer on” quote. Why? because that is exactly what happens. Some of the mosques whip up the fellas with a call to jihad, and right after that call to jihad, young men take a few wacks at the infidels from minarets. This is not in anyway akin to “f’ing ragheads,” whatsoever, it’s merely accurate.
It concerns me that my use of the quote gave off that impression, especially since the guy who said it is very culturally aware and works well with the Iraqis.
This is not true in Fallujah (“infiltrated by the enemy”), so I’m not sure why you make that assumption. The Iraqi Army is actually operating pretty well in Anbar. The police are less effective and perhaps mildly (passively) infiltrated, but there are hopeful signs.
And as my piece notes, other IA units are pretty professional, executing flawless raids.
I can’t speak to Baghdad, and I think that that paradigm is setting the stage for your views, but the IA in Fallujah are ok, operationally.
It’s their screwed up leave schedules, stolen pay and equipment and poor logistics that are the problems.