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Why the Surge Won't Work

munitions.jpgTime Magazine has a report that explains how the incompetence of the Iraqi military is undermining our efforts to provide security:

Most of the tactics are designed to exploit the ineptitude of Iraqi security forces -- the 30,000 soldiers and 21,000 police who are meant to support U.S. troops. Lacking in training, equipment and motivation, the Iraqis are the soft underbelly of the surge. A U.S. military internal assessment of the surge in late May showed that they are often unable to perform the simplest tasks, like manning checkpoints. And insurgent groups take full advantage, easily slipping men and munitions in and out of neighborhoods guarded by Iraqi soldiers and police. The simplest ruses work best, as the field commander of one insurgent group told me: "They never check cars with families, or children, or old people. If you have a woman passenger, you can drive past 50 checkpoints with a trunk full of C4, and you won't be stopped once."

The Iraqi police and army have been heavily infiltrated by insurgent groups:

Even so, some insurgent groups are taking precautions, giving their fighters new ID cards and papers with government markings that look remarkably authentic. Some don't need to: another insurgent commander told me his group has recruited many government officials and even soldiers. "I'm bringing weapons into the city in official cars," he said. In the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad, some fighters in the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution say they have been ordered to sign up for the Iraqi Army in order to get official papers that would allow them to move freely in the city.

m2.jpgMarket prices for weapons and ammunition are an important indicator of the ineffectiveness of the surge:

Perhaps the most telling indication of the ineffectiveness of Iraq checkpoints is that the black market prices of weapons and ammunition have remained unchanged since the start of the surge. A Chinese-made AK-47, the cheapest on the market, goes for $200, the same price as in January; the Russian model is similarly unchanged at $700. A crate of 750 bullets is now cheaper at $325; the January price was $400.

This story illustrates some of the most compelling reasons why the surge can't succeed. The lack of skill and professionalism among the Iraqi military, not to mention the lack of weapons and ammunition, guarantees that they will not be able to hold the areas that our military is currently clearing for them. The soldiers of the Iraqi Army also do not possess the same level of dedication to their cause that the insurgency has. The soldiers are mostly filling time to take home a paycheck while the insurgents see themselves in a historic struggle against the infidel occupiers. I imagine the pay as an insurgent is probably better anyway and they certainly aren't hard pressed for weapons and ammo.

It's not clear how the surge will change any of these hard realities.

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Comments (1)

Paul Hamilton:

This is very revealing. We have Americans over there fighting for Iraq, and they are more determined to succeed than the Iraqis are. What that tells me is that the locals no longer identify as citizens of Iraq, but rather as Sunni, Shia, or Kurd, who are fighting for their own independent territory. Once that state of mind has been reached, there's very little point in outsiders trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.


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