Iraqi Forces Seasoned in Fallujah
This Time, Iraqis Fought a Good Fight in Fallouja is an article from the LA Times this morning about the US assessment of the Iraqi troop performance. Of course, with a few of the stock phrases you would expect from the LA Times thrown in. The progress of the Iraqi forces will definitely be slow. Comparing them to US forces is misleading and unproductive. The fact of the matter is that most of the military forces you find in the 3rd world are quite capable when it comes to slaughtering innocents, stealing, or just generally inducing chaos. But when it comes to fighting against another military, most of them are less than competent in many of the most basic tasks. The yardstick of comparison for Iraqi forces should be the militaries of other developing nations. The grapevine tells me that our Green Berets often cite the Jordanians as the most professional armed forces in the Middle East. Our question then should be, how do the Iraqis stack up in comparison? They are getting a level of training and interaction with the US military that is no doubt the envy of many of our developing nation allies. Surely, one of the main reasons so many countries have sent contingents to Iraq is not just to assist us in the war, but to get interaction with US forces for their troops. At the Basic School, each company of Marine lieutenants generally has 3 or 4 exchange officers from other countries. Their commitment for being sent to a Marine school is often years and years and years of obligated service. I heard a story once about an exchange officer from Latin America at the Naval Academy for four years. His commitment to his service was a 20-year career as repayment. Back to the subject: it will take time for the Iraqis to develop a large-scale, cohesive, disciplined force. Signs are pointing in the right direction, but let's be clear about whom they should be judged against, and not jump to the conclusion that just because they aren't as good as Marines, they are failing.