I really don’t think that Iraqi tank crews are going to do anything special with T-55s/72s. I appreciate the improvement that can and is being made by the addition of modern fire control systems, but the ideology of the Middle Eastern warrior is simply not compatible with the idea of an effective, futuristic mechanized force.
Can we stop it already with the “this is incompatible with Arabs” or “that is incompatible with Muslims”?
True, the “ideology” of the previous Iraqi army was pretty much incompatible with the idea of an effective, futuristics mechanized force. But that wasn’t because “Middle Eastern warriors” aren’t capable of forming this sort of force. It was because a backwards sort of force was intentionally designed and maintained. That’s why we had to build a new Iraqi army instead of merely keeping the old one.
The old one, as proven repeatedly, sucked bad. The new one is going to be much different. Not the equal to the US Army, for sure, but certainly better, man for man, than the armies of Iraq’s regional rivals.
All this carrying on about how Arabs or Muslims or Middle Eastern warriors “just can’t get” modern concepts and practice modern skills is ridiculous. It reminds me of the “blacks aren’t smart enough to play quarterback in the NFL” garbage in the 1970s and 1980s. Sure, there really weren’t more than a few black quarterbacks capable of playing the position effectively before the 1990s. But Doug Williams really broke down that “barrier” on a January evening in 1988 as my beloved Redskins stomped (and I mean stomped) the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
Today, there are so many black quarterbacks throwing passes in the NFL that no one really notices any more. With a little luck and a lot of perseverience, the same will be said about Arab democracies in a couple of decades.
Finally, regarding the commenter’s opinion that we should not give the Iraqis tanks but thousands of anti-tank Milan, Dragon, or TOW missiles, he really seems to be missing the point. The Iraqi army doesn’t need tanks to fight other tanks. It needs tanks to fight insurgents and terrorists. Anti-tank missiles won’t be a big help in those fights.
Also, we have to be careful about how we build the Iraqi Army. We want them to be strong and effective against the anti-government forces. We also want them to be strong enough to deter aggression from Iraq’s neighbors. But we also don’t want them so strong that they could threaten our forces. Notice that heavy weapons and artillery haven’t been handed out in any great quantities. Baby steps.
Plus, many of the weapons we give the Iraqi army and security forces seem to end up in the hands of insurgents and terrorists, either stolen, bought, or given freely. So the last thing we want to be handing out are effective anti-tank weapons. Give me a break.