Mutiny in the Ranks
Newsweek: Mutiny in the Ranks
During his prime-time press conference last week, George W. Bush promised that, someday, Ã¢€œIraqi security is going to be handled by the Iraq people themselves.Ã¢€
That day isnÃ¢€™t coming any time soon.
As fierce fighting erupted in parts of Iraq in early April, the U.S.-led coalition tried to deploy U.S.-trained Iraqi units to quell the fighting. The results were disastrous: During the violence, many Iraqi police and civil defense personnel abandoned their posts, or joined Shiite militants loyal to renegade cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. WhatÃ¢€™s more, some soldiers of the first U.S.-trained battalion of the New Iraqi Army (NIA) deserted their unit or refused to follow orders. Ã¢€œThere were a number of troops, there were a number of police that didnÃ¢€™t stand up when their country called,Ã¢€ concedes coalition military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt.
A vivid account of the incident ensues over the next several paragraphs.
The interesting thing is this:
Senior officers in the New Iraqi Army say riot police and other civilian security forces should have been used on the mission rather than army troops. Ã¢€œThe idea of using the army to carry out [such] functions against civilians inside the cities is a grave mistake,Ã¢€ says staff colonel Dakhil Hammood, commander of the first battalion of the Salahuddin Brigade based in Tikrit. Ã¢€œNo Iraqi would ever welcome this idea. The army must focus on foreign threats and be deployed to defend the countryÃ¢€™s porous borders.Ã¢€ He has called for a review of the types of missions that would fall to the new Iraqi army over the long term.
The problem, of course, is that the target here wasn’t “civilians” in any ordinary sense but rather a collection of stateless guerillas, insurgents, and terrorists. Riot police are woefully overmatched for such a situation. Counterinsurgency is a military mission.