Thursday, April 03, 2008

News Links

A couple of articles sent by our public affairs officer-

First, a blog entry taking a cynical (but not entirely unrealistic in my opinion) perspective on the state of the loyalties and allegiances of various Iraqi factions and forces. This is informed by last week's events in Baghdad and Basra, as well as information about hiring practices for security forces.

Motivation, Mutiny and Militias
by Fester
2 April 08

Pretty brutal.

Second, a glowing review of Odierno's work (and to a degree Petraeus'), which I think is perhaps a bit too optimistic about the results achieved. It does acknowledge there is still much work to do and that we continue to face many challenges.

The Patton of Counterinsurgency
With a sequence of brilliant offensives, Raymond Odierno adapted the Petraeus doctrine into a successful operational art.
by Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan
Weekly Standard Volume 013, Issue 25


fester said...

Dana -- thanks for the link and the shout-out. What parts were a bit unrealistic; I know I glossed over several things as I wanted to keep it to under a page, but how can I improve my analytical framework?

Dana said...


The "not entirely unrealistic" phrase was intended to suggest some credibility to a piece that is an op-ed statement, and as such always has wiggle room.

One answer to improving your analytical framework is you might strengthen the argument by acknowledging the opposing viewpoint- that some progress has been made. You can then defend your argument that what you are discussing may overwhelm that progress. You don't appear to acknowledge any progress, which risks your credibility to a degree. You may be perceived to be presenting an agenda driven argument as opposed to a data driven argument, even with your use of citations.

I think you're correct that there are many folks with questionable allegiances or a desire to simply protect themselves and collect a paycheck. I'll call these "group 1."

I'd also argue, however, that there are "true believers" out there who didn't shun the fight, who performed their duties, and a growing portion of the population with some sense of a country identity. I'll call these "group 2."

That is a large part of what we're working on out here- building that national identity and a desire to serve fellow countrymen as opposed to one tribe or political party, or even just taking money. We're trying to reduce the numbers and the power of the "Group 1" that you so capably described, while at the same time increasing the number and increasing the capabilities of "Group 2."

I believe that the units on the IA side and the IP/NP side are making progress. Yes, there are substantial problems, but I think if one looks at what they can and can't do relative to where they were 4 years ago, there has been noteworthy progress in a number of empirical measures.

Building these forces simultaneous with substantial culture changes in their roles from a historical standpoint is no small feat.

I don't really see myself as much of an apologist in either direction on this. I think you've accurately described much of what is going on, but as I've stated above, I believe there is progress being made.

For example, in the training arena where I work, it is clear that the trainees are at least outwardly embracing the concept of national identity. The last graduating class (over 1,800) at our training facility was more than 50% sunni in the National Police, a Shi'ite dominated organization, and we had no real issues here.

I can't personally speak for their performance in the fight, but U.S. Army reps who've come through our center accompanying their NP units have been fairly complimentary of their Iraqi counterparts' efforts following their training.

When I used the term "brutal" that was about the content and its meaning- not the writing style or anything like that.


fester said...

Dana --- thanks for the detailed response and in other locations on the Newshoggers I have acknowledged locally improved security but has been focused heavily on the issue of primary loyalties and legitimacy as that I think trumps any tactical prowess. I appreciate the tidbit on the 50% Sunni Arab participation rate in the National Police for the current training cycle, I did not know that.

However the Washington Post is reporting that 30% of the Iraqi government forces involved quit, deserted or decided to paint rocks and the NY Times reported that a brigade's command staff went on strike... Not quite April 2004 with the Iraqi National Guard or December 2004 as the Mosul police force melted down, but not good... and the units involved were units drawn from Badr friendly areas whose men's loyalty is more aligned with Maliki et al than most Iraqis. A unit losing 30% of its manpower under most doctrines needs to be reconstituted.

Dana said...


I don't disagree with any of your points.

Regarding your doctrine comment, there is a lot out here that doesn't seem to follow any doctrine. And in the ideal world you'd reconstitute quite a bit- but you can't shut down everything, and this is clearly not the ideal world.

One third of the IAs or IPs are on leave all the time anyway- so 30% dropping from the fight, quitting, or changing sides, well... as bad as that sounds...

JohnE said...

Motivation Mutiny and Militias,
what an interesting read,
Brings to mind the various conversations i had with the students at numinayah.
In an attempt to get a feel of what they were about , I asked all in my classes why they were at the academy. Expecting answers like, we want to make our country safe, we want to see iraq as a country to be proud of ! and so on.
The common response from all and sundry was it was a guaranteed paycheck to support their families. None seemed concerned about anything else. Nor was there any outward evidence of factions, they all looked after each other, and became part of the 'class' regardless of where there allegiances lay. That I thought was a good starting point for a group with such different cultural backgrounds.
And that was the sum of it. My views were commented upon by the 'godfather' of the terps, everytime I made a comment to him on the ability of the students to grasp whatever legal subject I was teaching and how positive I thought their application would be in the real world. He thought i was being too optimistic.
At least i thought there was hope for there future.
Like all manner of training , if you apply the building block approach, it will take time. and in the end you will see a result.

keep them coming.