Training the Iraqi Army
For anyone who thinks I see real action here in Iraq, think again. I'm not trying to diminish the relative threat at one of the country's largest entry control points (ECP), but I recently discovered that one of the guys I talk to frequently on my base has a blog too!!!
There have been recent discussions about the (in)competence of the Iraqi Army in taking over operations in their own country, the training provided them by the US Military, and what they're really doing to apply that training... Well, "Mastablasta" sees that action first hand. (I just checked out the profile page, and the "Recent Posts" column -- indicating recent posts in fall of '04 -- is deceiving: he is in the habit of posting approximately 1-2 times per week.) He is a member of an Advisor Support Team (AST) for one of the several Iraqi Army units located on our base.
He really brings to light some of the behind-the-scenes politics that you won't see mentioned in standard media in "Back in the Groove":
So even though it is their country, and their army will take over the security mission soon enough, many American commanders just don’t get that and refuse to relinquish any control to the Iraqis regardless of their proven competency...To take away the planning process or limit their ability to develop their own intelligence is without a doubt a step backwards, but they’ll recover quickly enough. The planning that we receive smacks of American officers “padding their resume” so to speak.
The development of intelligence that he mentions is one of the aspects of AST support with which I have occasionally been involved here. He's right. These Iraqi soldiers are not just droves of directionless tools -- they have command structure, staff officers developing missions, map and intelligence analysis, and discipline. Believe it or not, I know that the unit mentioned above begins a physical training (PT) workout everyday before 5 a.m. -- that is more than is being asked of American soldiers on our base! Don't tell me they're not quickly approaching the level of readiness we demand of our own soldiers.
The latter half of the same post gives a great description of a convoy movement, complete with IED (improvised explosive device) attack. I really think you'll find this informative and enlightening.