More Iraqis Bug Out Under Fire

Another Iraqi unit has fled rather than fought, Michael Gordon reports.

Iraqi Cowards Flee Under Fire Iraqi soldiers on Tuesday after abandoning their posts on a joint mission with American troops in the Sadr City area of Baghdad Joao Silva for The New York Times

A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias. The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing.

Capt. Logan Veath, a company commander in the 25th Infantry Division, pleaded with the Iraqi major who was leading his troops away from the Sadr City fight, urging him to return to the front. “If you turn around and go back up the street those soldiers will follow you,” Captain Veath said. “If you tuck tail and cowardly run away they will follow up that way, too.”

Captain Veath’s pleas failed, and senior American and Iraqi commanders mounted an urgent effort to regain the lost ground. An elite Iraqi unit was rushed in and with the support of the Americans began to fight its way north.

This episode was a blow to the American effort to push the Iraqis into the lead in the struggle to wrest control of parts of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army militia and what Americans and Iraqis say are Iranian-backed groups.

No kidding.

Then again, it’s not terribly surprising. Aside from the Republican Guards and other elite units, the Iraqi military was pathetic even under the iron rule of Saddam. There’s no tradition of courage under fire to build upon and even though five years seems a lot, it’s not nearly long enough to grow a cadre of respected NCOs and field grade officers.

Soldiers continue to fight under the stress of heavy combat because they don’t want to let their leaders down or look weak in the eyes of their comrades-in-arms. That spirit is growing in the Iraqi Army — after all, the ones who don’t bug out outnumber those who do but, alas, aren’t newsworthy — but it hasn’t yet permeated throughout the ranks.

UPDATE: Bernard Finel argues that trying to train Arabs to fight “the American Way of War” is swimming against cultural tides. It could well be, although certainly plenty of officers from that part of the world were trained in Western ways during the colonial era and since at places like Sandhurst, West Point, and the various war colleges.

UPDATE: Bernard e-mails to clarify:

I didn’t claim it was genetic… I suggested cultural. Which is also why you might get small elite units trained up in Western techniques, but may have trouble with a larger organization.

The bigger issue, is why we feel the need to train them in Western style warfare. Saddam’s army didn’t stand and fight — even the Republican Guards demonstrated their discipline mostly by remaining operational in retreat rather than in pitched close combat. Yet, Saddam’s forces maintained order. You don’t need to fight like a U.S. forces to establish stability. We are putting the bar too high — or rather in the wrong place altogether — and likely guaranteeing failure.

Presumably, the reason we’re training them in Western style warfare is because we’re training them and that’s our style of warfare. I’m not sure how you do COIN or stability ops via guerrilla-style hit and run tactics but it may be possible. But we’re certainly not the ones to teach how to do it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hal says:

    But hey, Malaki is the obvious winner here. Sadr, not so much.

    Okay, even I couldn’t keep a straight face in writing that.

    Still, this incident brings into sharp relief the “happy, happy” talk from the Donald Sutherland wannabes who keep harping about the negative vibes regarding discussions about Iraq.

    I’ll ask again, how cool is it gonna be to be the last American to die for Nuri al-Maliki?

  2. Mike says:

    Greetings,

    One company out of the 9-12 Iraqi Army Brigades and the 4-6 Iraqi National Police Brigades in Bagdad abandoned their position. This is not an indication of the overall willingness of the IA or IP to stand their ground.

    So far, the battles for Basra and Bagdad seem to be working out just fine for Iraqi and Coalition forces – Sadr’s forces are being killed, arrested and/or disarmed. Most importantly, these fights are being conducted by ISF with the US forces in overwatch. Wasn’t that what certain people were calling for 6 to 8 months ago?

    Will there be other minor setbacks along the way? Yes. However, the campaign in Iraq is going our way. On the military front – Al Qaeda is in disarray, Iran’s Qod Forces are at risk and Sadr’s militia is being defanged. On the political front – Local politics have taken over and pushed reforms upward, Malaki has begin to consolidate power under the Iraqi National Governemnt and the Sunnis, Kurds and Shia factions are beginning to believe we won’t run away and abandon them.

    Now is not the time to allow a desperate press corps to undermine our or the Iraqi national interests.

    Regards,

  3. Triumph says:

    Bernard Finel argues that trying to train Arabs to fight “the American Way of War” is swimming against cultural tides. It could well be, although certainly plenty of officers from that part of the world were trained in Western ways during the colonial era and since at places like Sandhurst, West Point, and the various war colleges.

    The main problem isn’t that we are training Arabs to fight the “American Way of War.” The problem is that we are expecting them to fight “America’s War.”

    It is hardly surprising that the historical complexity and internal Iraqi political dynamics are not coterminous with the interests of the US military.

  4. legion says:

    Finel raises an interesting point I hadn’t thought of before… The only real martial tradition the Iraqis have to draw on is that of the Bedouins, and the standard tactic they used was built on guerrilla warfare – hit the enemy where they don’t expect it, do some damage, then pull back & vanish into the desert. Find someplace else they aren’t expecting to get hit, and repeat.

    Unfortunately, while that works great for how M.E. countries have historically feuded amongst each other, they may need to shift to a more “US/western” style in order to actively defend the country they’re trying to build. I’m gonna have to think about this one…

  5. Hal says:

    Will there be other minor setbacks along the way? Yes.

    The point is that we have continuously heard that we’re always this close to having the Iraqis stand up so we can pull out. Every single time this statement has proven to be false. As the saying goes, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

    Now is not the time to allow a desperate press corps to undermine our or the Iraqi national interests.

    Mike, that’s bullsh*t. Thinking that the press corps are trying to undermine us is simply stupidity wrapped in a conspiracy masquerading as patriotism. You really should read Phil Carter’s assessment of this whole “sapping our purity of essence” claptrap.

    I was in Iraq during this time in 2006. I remember well how the violence spiraled out of control after the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006. How every single indicator pointed in the direction of doom; how all our advisory efforts seemed to produce little to no security improvement; how we felt like spectators watching a civil war engulf Iraq, with too few troops to make a difference, and no political direction to do so.

    All through this period, I remember the president, his senior aides and senior military commanders toeing the party line that things were going swimmingly. The dissonance between the rhetoric from Washington and our experience in Iraq was stark. WWe knew the ground truth. Being deceived by our senior political leaders certainly didn’t change that, nor did it help morale at all. If anything, it hurt morale by undermining confidence in the chain of command. Put bluntly, if you can’t trust your generals and political leaders to tell you and your families the truth, how can you trust them at all?

    It’s disappointing to hear now, two years after the fact, that the president was knowingly bull—-ing us the whole time. And that he justified such dishonesty in the name of supporting the troops and protecting their morale. That’s an insult to America’s men and women in uniform (and their families), who deserve to be told the truth by their political leaders about what’s going on. It’s also an insult to us, as voters, who deserve the truth so we can make the right decisions in the voting booth.

    Indeed.

  6. Mike says:

    Legion, do not confuse the Iraq nation with that of Saudi Arabia. Iraq has a long line of military history. Humarabi established an empire that included massed forces in ancient times. Alexander the Great did face traditional armed forces during his conquest of the Middle East. The Iraqi Army (Sunni and Shia) did fight the Persians to a stand still in more recent times.

    It will take more time to grow the IA into an image of a modern armed force. However, there are signs it is already happening. There are plenty of examples of IA Companies and IP outposts holding their own. You just don’t read about them in the international press.

    Unlike most of these reporters, I am not so condesending as to believe the Iraqis cannot learn and adapt their techniques and methods to secure their own country from the fanatics. Be that the application of force or the application of the rule of law.

  7. Mike says:

    Hal, can you not see the advances made in the competence/effectiveness of the IA/ISF in the last 12 – 18 months? Aren’t they now leading in the fight for Basra and Sadr City? Haven’t local security forces stood up in villages and towns through out Iraq to support Coalition Forces?

    The GoI has taken responsibility for over half of the provinces in Iraq. The political process is resolving the ’18 political points’. Are not these good things? Isn’t that showing the GoI coming into it’s own?

    The press corps is desperate – desperate for bad news. After all, good news is not news. I didn’t invent the phrase “If it bleeds, it leads” but it is common knowledge in the news business. We cannot allow their overly pessimistic reporting to have an undue influence on application of US national policy. We cannot allow the press to adversly effect the American public/morale as it did with the unobjective (if not down right false) reporting on the impact of the Tet Offensive on our operations in S. Vietnam.

    Yes, the Iranians and Al Qaida nearly won this campaign in 2006. They didn’t (we can discuss whether this was because of the stubborness of a certain President, a new strategy by Gen Petraus or fairy dust another time.) They failed to break either the US or Iraqi governments and are now losing military, economic and political power.

    Those are the facts today – not yesterday. or in 2006-7. Just accept that we have found a way to achieve what was initially identified as success. A stable democratic government that is an ally in the War on Terror.

    BTW, don’t look for us to ‘pull-out’ anytime soon. No matter who is elected in Nov, we won’t be leaving Iraq for a generation. We will have armed forces in that country for 25+ years as a counter-weight to Iran.

  8. Hal says:

    Hal, can you not see the advances made in the competence/effectiveness of the IA/ISF in the last 12 – 18 months?

    No, quite frankly, I can’t. Rather, what I see is a massively corrupt state, 25+ billion wasted on a massively corrupt army riddled with militias.

    Are not these good things?

    Man, you sound like O’Hanlon – I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t precisely who you are. Look, I’m sure there are good things happening. But if everything is as rosy as you say, then why can’t we get out? It seems that either things are so bad we can’t get out, or things are so darn good we can’t get out. Everything – and quite frankly, it does seem like everything – is simply a fantastic excuse to waste more American’s lives in a pointless war while funneling billions of dollars into massively corrupt organizations – in the middle of a recession at home.

    The press corps is desperate – desperate for bad news.

    You keep throwing that out there, but by all objective measurements, they aren’t “desperate for bad news” at all.

    After all, good news is not news.

    Dude, where’s the good news? Have you read the papers this week? Iraq is our own private palestine, except three orders of magnitude worse. Quite frankly, I think that anyone – and I mean liberal, conservative or wacky libertarian – who starts blaming the press is on the very last legs of whatever argument they might have had at one point. It’s simply the act of a very, very desperate person. The nature of the press is quite apparent and if anything, the fact that the press can’t even leave the green zone without seriously taking their life into their own hands speaks volumes about the “good news’ you claim is being suppressed in their desire to get the bleeding lede.

    the impact of the Tet Offensive on our operations in S. Vietnam.

    My god. Vietnam. Now I know you’re O’Hanlon – or at least he’s possessing you as a medium for his message in some black pact with satan. Seriously, can we just stop with the POE hand wringing over Vietnam? I mean, I was born under the sign of that quagmire in ’62 and have had my fill of the bellyaching over Vietnam. As they say, just get over it.

    They failed to break either the US or Iraqi governments and are now losing military, economic and political power.

    Wow, I would have been absolutely stunned to hear that the US was ever in danger of being “broken”. That’s the problem with your Vietnam framing – you can’t seem to see this as anything more than a battle of wills with America when it’s a civil war between Iraqis.

    Just accept that we have found a way to achieve what was initially identified as success. A stable democratic government that is an ally in the War on Terror.

    Again, wow. Setting the bar somewhere around 3x the height of K2, aren’t we? I don’t think anyone – except maybe O’Hanlon – thinks in their wildest wet dreams we’re going to end up with a stable democratic government. At best we’re going to get a stable religious theocratic government that’s BFF with our buddy Iran. Your “success” has literally been promised over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

    As I said, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining…

    We will have armed forces in that country for 25+ years as a counter-weight to Iran.

    No doubt. I’m sure all those people dying for this pipe dream have tears in their eyes as their last breath leaves them, knowing that this is so. Not to mention the high fives all their relatives have upon hearing that they’re dead or horribly injured in pursuit of your madness. Not to mention all the people who are going to be singing praises of this 4+ trillion dollar strategy as our economy crumbles.

    Victory!

  9. Wayne says:

    Having one unit flee or show lack of courage is nothing special. Sometimes it is wise to flee but when and where is the question and that judgment gets better with experience. Remember the Iraqis are still getting use to doing things in a new way.

    Remember during the Panama we had a Bradley company who stop and refuse to advance until a light company of Rangers walk past them. For those who don’t know what a Bradley Company is, they have infantry with Armor vehicles with small cannons which have a great deal more firepower them a light infantry unit.

    Also had an old college roommate in the first Gulf war who with couple of his unit members told me a good story. They were in an ITV platoon. The platoon in front of them came across a column of tanks and they high tale it out of there. His platoon came on line and start shooting the tanks like ducks in a row. Then the M1s came up and finish the job.

    Point of the story is that even the U.S. military with all its training have skittish units. Overall they are pretty good but there are always exceptions and it not necessary due to a lack of courage either. History shows that it takes a while for troops to find their rhythm.

  10. legion says:

    Mike,
    I never said they _couldn’t_ become a modern, professional, western-style army – just that it was understandable that, when pressed, they would fall back to a different set of tactics and style of combat.

    And there’s also still the very valid question of whether the western-style military we’re trying to turn them into is even appropriate or effective in this arena. That’s a question I don’t think has been debated much in the blogosphere, and I’m _certain_ it’s never been addressed in the higher echelons of the current administration…

  11. Triumph says:

    Having one unit flee or show lack of courage is nothing special.

    Remember during the Panama we had a Bradley company who stop and refuse to advance until a light company of Rangers walk past them. For those who don’t know what a Bradley Company is, they have infantry with Armor vehicles with small cannons which have a great deal more firepower them a light infantry unit.

    Thats true–of course a better example is Viet Nam when you had pro-War cowards like Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc… actively avoid combat and let their militaristic fantasies be played out by surrogates. A similar thing is happening here.

  12. yetanotherjohn says:

    Mike has the key point here. We are talking about 50 Iraqi troops (and if you believe the report really one major who failed to do his duty to lead his troops) out of several thousand engaged in combat. And the Iraqi army as a whole adapted to the problem and continued in the fight.

    Here is a snippet from the US army in some of its first major combat in WWII.

    Meanwhile, Allied losses were staggering. Some units were completely devoured; some broke and ran; others fought bravely with inferior equipment. A makeshift British task force positioned on one flank of the mile wide Kasserine Pass was responsible for delaying the Germans long enough for important Allied regroupings to the rear.

    We should have just pulled out of WWII then. Why fight on when such massive failure is all we can expect. Only the more experienced British units were able to step in and stave off defeat. We just can’t expect the American army to ever be able to stand up and fight on its own.

    Unfortunately quite a few people and just about the whole democratic party has staked their reputation behind the doom and gloom version of Iraq and it is influencing their ability to objectively view the Iraq war. As an example James declared from several thousand miles away that Basra was a defeat for Maliki and thus a victory for Sadr. Of course those a little closer to the action might see a bit more of what is really going on.

  13. Hal says:

    Unfortunately quite a few people and just about the whole democratic party has staked their reputation behind the doom and gloom version of Iraq and it is influencing their ability to objectively view the Iraq war

    Perhaps a few are staking their “reputations” on it, but given the fact that, even with the “good news” of the surge, over 2/3 of Americans simply want to get out and think the whole thing wasn’t justified and a bad idea.

    Guess democracy is good only as long as it agrees with you.

    But hey, as a democrat, by all means push the forever war. Push it hard and call everyone who disagrees with you losers who only want to sap our POE. Regularly. Please.

  14. Wayne says:

    YAJ
    Thanks for the links.
    HAL
    You numbers are suspicious. Regardless in 10 years I predict that most everyone will say they were for it and supported 100%. There is nothing unusual about that for wars. That is why you can’t conduct wars by taking daily polls if you want to win. Most polls I’ve seen says most people would like to get out but they want out under the right conditions and not just cut and run. I fall under that category.

  15. Hal says:

    You numbers are suspicious

    It’s like you guys really do live up to the stereotype and only get your news from Fox. My lord, just 30 milliseconds of googling would have turned up the answer for you.

    Regardless in 10 years I predict that most everyone will say they were for it and supported 100%.

    Really? How’d that work out with Vietnam?

    Most polls I’ve seen says most people would like to get out but they want out under the right conditions and not just cut and run.

    Cut n’ run. Geebus. More proof that you really do have a mono culture of information sources. In any event, call it what you like, but from actual polls – not fantasy polls based on interviews with Leprachauns and
    Michael O’Hanlon – demonstrate that almost half of Americans want us out in less than a year and just shy of 2/3 want us out in under 2 years.

    But still, keep framing it as “cut n’ run”. I’m sure it’s great thing for 2/3 of America to hear their position characterized.

  16. Cernig says:

    I’m getting tired of seeing that link to the AFP article recounting a dog-n-pony show in Basra. It’s like getting a tour of a Baghdad market surrounded by armed guards and returning to say Iraq is as safe as Indiana. After a month of fighting an entire third of the city is still under Sadrist control, just as it always was, with IA forces (heavily supported by the US) making little headway against an irregular force. The Iraqis just reassigned the Sunni local Army and Police commanders put in by the Brits (because they’d be impartial in Shiite faction-feuds) in favor of two ISCI apparatchiks.

    Even if Maliki’s forces eventually win in Basra, how is that a good thing? It’s about political supremacy at gunpoint in advance of the regional elections, not establishing the rule of law. And Maliki’s allies are more closely tied to Iran than Sadr has ever been. The National Council Of Resistance of Iran explicitly accuses the Badr Brigade and ISCI of being Iran’s main proxies and of knowingly sheltering over a thousand Iranian agents in their higher ranks. Conservatives often cite NCRI as a reliable source when talking about Iran’s nuclear program but when it contradicts the current Sadr=bad, Badr=good narrative it is sidelined and ignored. Unfortunately, other less partisan sources confirm that Maliki’s “Persian Ex-Pats” are more beholden to Iran than any of their rivals.

    And no, Mike, the desertion under fire of an entire 80-man company wasn’t an isolated incident no matter how often you say it was. It follows a long line of such incidents including the over 1,300 desertions in Basra recently and stretching back to the wholesale desertion of the original Iraqi force in Fallujah. Deal with it.

    Regards, C

  17. Bob says:

    When a leader stands and fights his unit will do so. When he bugs out the troops beat feet. If the expectation is that every company size element in the Iraqi Army will fight brilliantly then this will no doubt be judged a failure.

    If the standard on being qualified to send US troops into combat now that you have to have military experience then MR and Mrs Clinton and Obama fail that test. Of course it did not preclude Bill from ordering US forces into several deployments (Somalia, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Bosnia, etc).

  18. anjin-san says:

    We will have armed forces in that country for 25+ years as a counter-weight to Iran.

    Ah, So. We are in Iraq to:

    Remove the threat of Saddam’s WMD

    Free the people of Iraq from tyranny


    Spread democracy in the middle east

    Counterbalance Iran

  19. Mike says:

    Greetings,

    Sorry, I had to go to work.
    ———
    Hal, can you not see the advances made in the competence/effectiveness of the IA/ISF in the last 12 – 18 months?
    +++++
    No, quite frankly, I can’t (see any progress). Rather, what I see is a massively corrupt state,
    ——
    Hey, it’s a third world nation…..if it’s as uncorrupt as S. Korea, I will be pleased!

    +++++++++
    25+ billion wasted on a massively corrupt army riddled with militias.
    ———-
    Militias that the ISF are attacking and de-arming . . . I am sure you a pleased at this turn of events.

    —————
    Are not these good things?
    +++++++++++++++
    Man, you sound like O’Hanlon – I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t precisely who you are. Look, I’m sure there are good things happening. But if everything is as rosy as you say, then why can’t we get out?
    ————–
    I don’t know O’Hanlon…however, as I stated in my last post, we aren’t going to get out anytime soon. I don’t want us to. If we leave, then Iran will gain even more influence. That’s not just my opinion, but also the perception of the Saudi Officers I recently worked with. The problem in the ME is quickly changing from the ‘evil Israelis’ (who aren’t a threat to any ruling Arab families anyway) to the Persians from the East.

    ————–
    The press corps is desperate – desperate for bad news.
    ++++++++++++++
    You keep throwing that out there, but by all objective measurements, they aren’t “desperate for bad news” at all.
    ————–
    Objectively, they want to sell papers/news time. The target population is no longer just the U.S. audience. Talking bad about America is a way to make money in many parts of the world. In case you haven’t noticed, the biased papers / news organizations / movies in the US are starting to lose circulation, ad revenues and box office revenues. Not to mention that numerous studies show a very liberal bias in most American news rooms.

    Also, we haven’t been very good at telling the good new. It may just be a price we pay for an independent press without govt. oversight. I price I am willing to pay BTW.

    —————
    After all, good news is not news.
    +++++++++++++++
    Dude, where’s the good news?
    —————-
    Have you been to Michael Yon’s site? The Long War Journal? Mudvillegazette? Any of other Milblog sites? MNC-Iraq’s site? Tons of good news is out there. It just doesn’t make the commercial news.

    ++++++++++++
    The nature of the press is quite apparent and if anything, the fact that the press can’t even leave the green zone without seriously taking their life into their own hands speaks volumes about the “good news’ you claim is being suppressed in their desire to get the bleeding lede.
    ————–
    That’s my point, during the Sunni Insurrection – they were using Sunni Stringers, now that the ‘Son’s of Iraq’ have joined the Coalition against Al Qaeda, where are these glowing reports of the ‘minutemen’? Many blogger’s are outside the wire seeing, reporting and learning the impact our forces are having first hand. Not reporting second hand rumors and propaganda.

    ———–
    the impact of the Tet Offensive on our operations in S. Vietnam.
    +++++++++++
    My god. Vietnam. . . . .. Seriously, can we just stop . . . hand wringing over Vietnam? I mean, I was born under the sign of that quagmire in ’62 and have had my fill of the bellyaching over Vietnam.
    —————–
    Those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it’s errors. I don’t want to return to the days in which America was a defeated power abandoning it’s allies and friends. I joined the Army in ’76 and saw first hand what it took to rebuild it from that defeat — never again.

    ————
    They failed to break either the US or Iraqi governments and are now losing military, economic and political power.
    +++++++++++++
    Wow, I would have been absolutely stunned to hear that the US was ever in danger of being “broken”.
    ————
    We came very close to losing this war politically two years ago. Without the stubborn resolution of one man and a few Senators, we would have abandoned Iraq to the fanatics.

    +++++++++++++
    That’s the problem with your Vietnam framing – you can’t seem to see this as anything more than a battle of wills with America when it’s a civil war between Iraqis.
    ————
    Which civil war is this? The Baathist vrs the Puppet Occupier’s Government, the Sunni vrs the Shia, or the Shia Govt vrs the Shia Militias, or is it the Iraqi Govt vrs the Iranian supported Militias? Looks like we have finished of the first two and are moving on to the last two. (psst. . . .that’s progress)

    This is a battle of wills — Modernity vrs the Religious Fanatics. The question is, who will blink first. Is Osama bin Laden correct in stating we are a weak horse – a few casualties will send us running. Are we willing to stand and fight and bleed for individual freedom and religious choice? Are the Iranian Theocrats correct in that they can Hezbolize Iraq and drive us out? Or will we stand by our allies to construct a new political instrument in the ME? Our actions over the next decade will decide this.

    —————
    Just accept that we have found a way to achieve what was initially identified as success. A stable democratic government that is an ally in the War on Terror.
    ++++++++++++++
    Again, wow. Setting the bar somewhere around 3x the height of K2, aren’t we? I don’t think anyone —
    —————-
    That was the original geo-political goal clearly stated following the removal of Saddam Hussein.

    ++++++++++++++++
    At best we’re going to get a stable religious theocratic government that’s BFF with our buddy Iran.
    —————-
    Wait, the IA and IP are fighting the Iranian Qods forces and their puppets (the Sadr Militia) to remove their political influence from Iraq — How does that lead to the BFF thingie?

    +++++++++++
    As I said, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining…
    ———–
    The problem is you can’t recognize tinkling from the real thing. Look, this is just the way COIN is, two or three steps forward and one back. Heck, it took the Brits 15 year to end a counter-insurgency on an island in the South Pacific. We have made amazing progress in the last 18 months.

    Take a breath and just make an honest evaluation. Understand that we. just. might. actually. establish. a. democracy. in. the. Arab. Middle. East.

    What impact do you really think a functioning democracy might have on it’s neighbors? I don’t expect to change your mind with a couple of posts. Just step back and take a second look.

    —————-
    We will have armed forces in that country for 25+ years as a counter-weight to Iran.
    ++++++++++++++++
    No doubt. I’m sure all those people dying for this pipe dream have tears in their eyes as their last breath leaves them, knowing that this is so. Not to mention the high fives all their relatives have upon hearing that they’re dead or horribly injured in pursuit of your madness.
    ————
    Relax. I have friends in this fight. I do not take their sacrifices, nor their families sacrifices, lightly. I loathe the loss of each and every one. I train the young officers (many who are going back for their 2nd or 3rd Army tour — that’s a 12 month plus per tour) who are going in harms way. I do not take a cavalier attitude about their service.

    ————–
    On a strategic level, this nation can sustain indefinitely the loss of 1000 people a year for and the minimal amount of GDP we are currently spending. Political capital is another thing all together. That’s what worries me and why I am so concerned with the biased reporting.

    Regards,

  20. Mike says:

    Anji,

    Was that a list of accomplishments?

    If so, we need to add a few:

    Remove the threat of Saddam’s WMD – Check

    Free the people of Iraq from tyranny – Check

    Spread democracy in the middle east – 50% done (national elections conducted, on to the provencials!)

    Discredit terrorist organizations within the territory of Iraq – Check

    Co-opt the Sunni minority into the GoI – check

    Train the ISF – In progress

    Prevent Al Qaeda in Iraq from becoming a threat to the GoI – Check

    Assist the GoI in establishing political control over the territory of Iraq – In progress

    Counterbalance Iran – In progress

    Regards,

  21. anjin-san says:

    Mike,

    Lets review the accomplishments:

    End threat of Saddam’s WMD – Check. Accomplished in 1991 by Pres GHW Bush

    Transfer tyranny from Saddam to various warlords – check

    Spread democracy in the middle east – elections held. Very nice, but North Korea has elections too.

    Create opening for Al Qaeda to establish itself in Iraq – Check

    Counterbalance Iran – When was the last time Iran started a war? Why don’t you check?

  22. Bruno says:

    Aside from the Republican Guards and other elite units, the Iraqi military was pathetic even under the iron rule of Saddam. There’s no tradition of courage under fire to build upon

    I have to note that the Iraqis opposing the Maliki offensive and the incursion into Sadr City don’t seem to suffer from the same lack of courage under fire that the Iraqi “army” units do, even they have no training at all. Why is that?

  23. Mike says:

    Anjin,

    You must know the real story – or are deliberatly clouding the issues.
    Iran conducted an act of war against the US in 78 with the occupation of an Embassy. Their puppet, Hezbola, attempted to forment a civil war in Lebanon. Further more their puppets are conducting a war from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip against the people of Israel. You also know they Iranian forces are in Iraq killing American soldiers. The Iranians have been at war with Lebanon, Israel and America for a long time.

    I think anyone who compares the elections in N. Korea with the open and free (ask the U.N. elections counsel) is a fool and worth no more electrons or my time.

    Regards,