December 10, 2006
The ISG's second point focuses on the training of the Iraqi military, which should be the main focus. Unfortunately, the Iraqi military has not been trained properly for the 3+ years that we've been there and that is not addressed. Apparently, the ISG believes that all of a sudden the Iraqi military will get trained exponentially faster and before the American forces leave. The report is correct to focus on the training, but makes no mention of how to stop the corruption, infiltration, and safety issues that they face.
I think this is an easy complaint to make -- "the Iraqi military has not been trained properly" -- but proposals on how to be more efficient are hard to come by.
I've spent a lot of time around soldiers who've been to Iraq, and I've heard lots of stories about training Iraqi soldiers. That was one of the primary missions of my husband's brigade as far back as early 2004. Everywhere they went, Iraqis went with them. Everything they did, Iraqis were involved. I hate when politicians say that we'd be able to pull out of Iraq if we'd just concentrate on training Iraqis. We've been doing that since day one.
However, training Iraqis is not just a matter of teaching them to shoot and how to go on raids. Heck, I've heard that's nothing to sneeze at in and of itself: when you're trying to teach someone who thinks that bullets go wherever Allah wills them to go, it can apparently be a pain in the neck to get them to aim. And that's the larger point of training Iraqis: you're teaching culture as much as military training.
I heard a story about the Iraqi police, who proudly bragged that they had taken a suspect into their station and beaten him all night long. They were proud, telling the Americans because they thought that they had done something good. Look, we're keeping order! The Americans didn't know what to do except shake their head and try to explain why this was not a good thing.
In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that? All the target practice in the world can't stop "corruption, infiltration, and safety issues." You can't teach Iraqis to be Americans, to all of a sudden erase decades (centuries?) of ingrained tribalism and mores and have them care about the same things we care about. It's like we're looking at this through the lens of our own history: settlers came to the US and learned to live in religious harmony and value freedom and democracy over everything, so why can't you? If we just teach them to use a rifle, then they'll rise up like colonial Americans did, right? But it's not that simple. We can't force them to want the same things early Americans wanted. That's the problem with this so-called Bush Doctrine, which was a noble idea because we Americans have been taught from birth that all men want to live free. But unfortunately we tried to free people who think sharia is the way to go. Just teaching them to raid a house and hunt for IEDs is not going to fix the underlying issues in their society.
I think this talk of training Iraqis has been grossly oversimplified in every discussion I've ever heard about it, except for the soldiers who've actually had to try to do it.
Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at December 10, 2006 07:04 AM (deur4)
Posted by: Sarah at December 10, 2006 07:58 AM (7Wklx)
Posted by: PoliticalCritic at December 10, 2006 08:26 AM (p7CUq)
Posted by: Robert at December 10, 2006 08:08 PM (9R9sC)
Posted by: Andi at December 11, 2006 05:00 AM (OzAse)
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