UPDATE: “We don’t call them militias. Militias are…illegal”

I had not seen it until today, but Phil Carter noted the same story that I did on the militias in Iraq. He writes:

Thus far, our efforts to train Iraqi security forces have not followed this FID [“foreign internal defense”] model — and they have floundered. We have attempted to transform a group of average citizens in Iraq into soldiers capable of going toe-to-toe with some very bad guys, and ultimately, being able to kill their fellow citizens. It takes a lot to create that kind of a force; it takes years to inculcate that kind of skill, professionalism and warrior ethos. We may be able to impart the basics to the Iraqi security force personnel — such as how to shoot and maintain their weapons, conduct a squad patrol, etc. But it’s a giant leap from that baseline of proficiency to what these “pop up” units have: a fighting spirit.

I wrote last October:

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.

If these militia-type units can be “deputized” and enlisted for the short-to-medium term, they could make a very significant contribution to the stabilization of the new Iraq. It won’t be easy, of course, and close tabs need to be kept on them. But as the Iraqi army grows and matures, the need for these groups will lessen considerably even as the capability to put them down becomes available if it’s needed. Again, negotiations in good faith could make a great deal of difference.

One other thing I meant to mention in my earlier post is that perhaps these groups, if they play ball, could be considered Iraq’s true “minutemen”.