Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Iraq's Army at Work

Since last week’s destruction of the Askariya shrine in Samarra the doomsayers of the American media have stepped up their predictions of imminent Iraqi civil war. They immediately focused their attention on the spike in sectarian violence that followed the act. Violence and reporting that played into the hands of the terrorists who planted the bomb.

Going back at least to this past summer, America’s liberal punditry, and their media allies have thrown the words “Iraqi civil war” with an almost gleeful sense of hope. Yet in spite of serious stresses on the emerging Iraqi government, and the sectarian strife, even after this bombing, civil war has yet to occur.

There are several factors that have contributed to managing the crisis. The desire of most Iraqi’s to avoid a civil war, the leadership of both Sunni and Shiite clerics who prefer a peaceful settlement, the ongoing attempts by both parties to form a fair and representative government have all helped avert a worst case scenario so far.

But one reason, for that, one that much of the press would prefer to avoid reporting, is the increasing effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces. While US forces still patrol many cities in Iraq the burden has been shifting to the Iraqis. And they have been in the lead over the last week.

A fair amount of attention has been focused on the number of battalions and where they fall on the 4 level scale of effectiveness. With most battalions in the level 2 and 3 categories, they were still in the forefront on this mission. That’s because while these troops still need some US support in terms of planning and logistics, they can conduct security missions fairly effectively.

In Dujail, the city at the center of Saddam’s trial, the Soldiers of Delta Company of the 203rd Battalion an Iraqi National Guard unit see safeguarding the citizens of their city as their top priority. I recently received an email forwarded by a friend still in touch with the officers of Delta Company. Written last weekend in broken English, Lt. Abbas, describes how his commander went about safeguarding this Shiite enclave in the Sunni heartland.

“it is big problem in our country the fighting between sunni and shia, we dont know what is gonna happen the next few days about dujail, the iraqi army, dalta co .and Captain mohameed hussein make good plan to safe our city we close all the road in city we dont let any people from out side going in to the city we keep talking with people in city about the situation in iraq we try to making it quiet ....”.

I helped train Cpt Hussein and Lt. Abbas in 2004, where as simple jundi or privates, they so stood out during a leadership development course, they were selected to replace the ineffective officers over them. So far they’ve been successful in Dujail. All over Iraq, the Iraqi security forces have been in the lead on this mission. This crisis has been an opportunity for these forces to demonstrate their growing competence.

This isn’t to say that the threat to Iraq is not grave. Or that the Iraqi armed forces are ready to stand on their own. There are still deep ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq, that can be exploited. The terrorists behind the Mosque bombing sought to use the divisions to further their own evil ends. Some soldiers and police in Iraq have abandoned their national duty to sectarian loyalty.

But the big story here isn’t that Iraq is once again on the precipice of civil war. The big story here is how in spite of the desperate attempts of a violent minority, it hasn’t happened. Iraq however narrowly is holding together. The government is still negotiating its future. Most clerics are appealing for calm, not for vengeance. And the soldiers of Iraq’s fledgling armed forces have worked hard and in many cities successfully to avert further bloodshed.

Thanks To The Mudville Gazette

The Defense of Mario Lozano


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I pray for peace in Iraq, but more than anything I pray for the police and army to continue to grow into their rolls as protectors of their country. Thank you for training them and for your service to "we the people". Without you and your family's sacrifice, we wouldn't be standing for long.

Wed Mar 01, 07:52:00 PM 2006  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

Thanks for writing.

Fri Mar 03, 04:19:00 PM 2006  

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