Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Tough Get Going

The Iraqi army is kicking Sunni ass, so after the December elections the coalition can move to facing down the next two dominoes - Syria and Iran (if it's still there). This tremendous achievement in just over 2 years compares with the 10 it took to train up an indifferent German army in much less hostile environment. Confirming that tough conditions breed tough armies.

Here's what's happened.

For generations, Iraq was dominated by Sunni Arabs because Sunni Arabs held most of the leadership posts in the army and police. Kurds and Shia Arabs were often the majority of the troops and beat cops, but they nearly always took orders from a hierarchy of Sunni Arab supervisors and officers.

The Sunni Arabs knew that the management and leadership skills necessary to run an army or police force were not easily acquired. It took years of training and experience. There was no way the Kurds and Shia Arabs could quickly replace those Sunni Arab officers and NCOs.

Thus Sunni Arab terrorists would drive out the foreign troops, especially the deadly Americans, and, then the Sunni Arabs would take over again. But then something very, very bad (for the Sunni Arab takeover plan) happened. Battalions and brigades of Iraqi troops began to show up, commanded by Kurds, Shia Arabs, and some turncoat Sunni Arabs, that could do the job.

Currently there are 207,000 Iraqi soldiers and police that are trained and equipped for operations. There are sufficient leadership to deploy 120 army and police battalions for combat operations. About three dozen of these battalions are well enough led to undertake security operations without American supervision.

Training a new army from scratch in modern warfare is incredibly hard for trainers and trainees. The US military has done a brilliant job and the Kurds and Shias have shown remarkable courage and diligence. Nobody has ever done anything like this before - the German army wasn't reformed until 1955, 10 years after WW2, and is still incapable of defending its country.