An elite Iraqi unit has been contributing to anti-insurgency operations in several spots.
Initially stood up some six weeks ago, two battalions of highly vetted Iraqi officers and rank-and-file servicemen were operational within two weeks and performed with great distinction in anti-Iraqi force counter-operations in Haifa Street and Al Monsour in Baghdad, North Babil, and Samarra – four recent insurgent hotspots.
The force – still comprised of two operational battalions – now has a third battalion in training with a fourth and fifth recruited a week ago, as yet to undergo initial training. The force, through recruiting prior service professionals, however, was designed for immediate employ, putting to work personnel from the former regime’s Special Forces elements and other specialty units.
“From this regiment,” Ministry of Interior Security Advisor, Iraqi Police Service, Maj. Gen. Adnon Thabit said, “we have police who have previous experience fighting terrorism and also people who received special training under the former regime; people who used to be in the army.
“They were all chosen on the basis of loyalty to Iraq and from their support for the democratic change taking place in Iraq and for those who have not committed crimes against Iraqis,” Thabit said. “They were efficiently chosen according to information about their background.”
I’ve said before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Until Iraqis begin feeling something like national spirit and pride, we and our allies are going to have to shoulder the vast majority of the responsibility for security in Iraq. Although things have certainly improved with the Iraqi security and military forces over the past several months, there is still a long, long way to go.
One major criticism about the plan (or lack thereof) for post-invasion Iraq was the failure to immediately enlist the surviving members of the Iraqi military into a new security force. While there might have been some immediate benefits to this approach, who knows exactly what the long-term results would have been. The Saddam’s Iraqi military and police organizations were based primarily on bribery, thuggery, and blind loyalty to the big ‘S’.
As evidenced by the battles in 1991 and 2003, capability didn’t really appear to be an overriding concern.
After some spectacular failures by the new Iraqi forces earlier in the year, more veteran Iraqi military personnel were incorporated into the plan, including some at pretty high levels.
But by the time that step was taken, the interim government had been able to get established and the US military had been able to get a handle on the situation (in most spots) and many lessons about recruiting and retaining the loyalty of Iraqi soldiers had already been learned. The same policies, if attempted in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, would not have borne the same fruit. In all likelihood, at least.
Do the insurgents and terrorists fear the creation of these new military and security forces? Just look at who gets bombed. More often than not, it’s men lining up to enlist.
You can’t just snap your fingers and deploy a trained army. Even if the Iraqi military had been 100% loyal to the interim government, they would not have had the capability to deal with the things that they are going to have to deal with. Vetting, training, and equipping a capable force takes time.
This SWAT-type unit was put together rather quickly and it would be nice if more projects could be this successful this quickly, but the overall pace must be measured.
Remember, if the long-term plan in Iraq is going to be successful, it’s not these police forces and the current citizens of Iraq that need to buy into the program. It’s their children and grandchildren. We won’t know until they’re running Iraq.
UPDATE: This reminds me that I forgot to link to an Iraqi SWAT poster at Backcountry Conservative last week. Here’s a small version:
Click the pic or follow the link to BC for a better look.
UPDATE 2: And here’s a pic of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Force from today’s Frontline Photos:
The caption reads:
Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force soldiers kneel with their weapons during an inspection on Wednesday at an undisclosed location in Iraq. The force, which is being trained by the U.S. military in a neighboring country, is made up of 800 men and will be deployed in Iraq to retrieve high value targets.