Friday, January 05, 2007

Soldier Stories (II)

The story of Alan King demonstrated the urgent need to train Iraqi police and soldiers, and this has in fact been listed as a top priority by both the Iraq Study Group and Vice President al-Hashimi, among others. But proponents of this recommendation generally only gloss over all the problems involved. The most obvious problem is that far too few U.S. soldiers speak Arabic. This communication barrier puts lives at risks. How can one rely on someone in a combat situation if the two are unable to communicate properly with one another? A shift away from combat operations to a more advisory role would require a three-fold increase in the number of Arabic-speaking U.S. soldiers- this alone could take years. And even if you manage to train and equip Iraqi soldiers there is still doubt as to whether these soldiers will be politically reliable.

Here is an excerpt from a story told by Joseph Hatcher of the 1st Infantry Division:
It's interesting when you work with the Iraqi army because they're sworn to defend Iraqis. They refuse to shoot at Iraqis or they've been seen shooting at Americans before. I don't feel comfortable around Iraqi soldiers. The inability to communicate makes me uncomfortable. We had a questionable incident involving some Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers that were blown up by an AC-130 gunship. We had a raid go wrong and cars everywhere, drive-bys, just a complete fuckfest. Th egunship came in and lit up one of these cars, We pulled all the bodies out of the cars, and they were all fucking cops. We know for a fact they were shooting at us.
There are thousands of other U.S. soldiers with similar stories and the same misgivings about Iraqi armed forces. I believe that it is imperative that we retrain the Iraqi army and police as we were the ones that initially decimated them; I only worry how successful we will be under these conditions.

A few of you e-mailed asking about the book. You can find it on Amazon.

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