Comment of the day: It isn’t just that Maliki is a jerk, Tom, it is also that he ousted some of his best commanders
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Good comment here in response to my post yesterday about why Iraqi soldiers won’t fight for Maliki
Good comment here in response to my post yesterday about why Iraqi soldiers won’t fight for Malikias hard as their enemy will fight for their own cause:
With all due respect I think your analysis doesn’t fully capture what happened here. I think many Iraqi soldiers are indeed willing to die for Maliki’s version of Iraq — the majority demographic of its total headcount is proudly sectarian Shia. The problem is that Maliki chopped up the army so much that its loyal and combat experienced junior officers and enlisted aren’t clustered together in cohesive units.
I was an advisor to the IA from 07-08 and have kept up with many of the guys I advised. Our battalion was primarily Shia and its members were (and are) supportive of Maliki. If the personnel structure of the IA were the same today as it was in summer ’08, they would have spanked ISIS in Mosul.
As America disengaged from OIF in 2009-2011, Maliki fired experienced, American-mentored division commanders and replaced them with guys who he thought were politically loyal and wouldn’t participate in a coup against him. The new division commanders (who reported directly to him in contravention to the new Iraqi constitution) then turned around and told him that he needed to reshuffle the army — specifically, by spreading the most experienced and professional guys from 1st and 7th Divs into the other divisions. They all wanted "their share" of the best soldiers.
The result of this has been that instead of an Iraqi Army whose battalions were on a Bn-by-Bn basis roughly 1/3 legitimately professional, 1/3 a bit iffy, and 1/3 Keystone Kops (situation in 2008), you have an army all of whose battalions are combat ineffective because half their dudes desert at the moment of enemy contact.
Even worse, the politically appointed division commanders fired or reassigned a lot of the experienced and relatively non-corrupt staff officers to make room for their cronies, who are criminally incompetent and/or cowardly in many cases. For example, a platoon commander I worked with in 1st IA who is now a company commander in 2nd IA (reshuffled as per above) had his entire company abandoned in a combat outpost in Mosul that was under mortar and HMG fire from ISIS — when he radioed his Bn CO, the guy said, "sit tight, we’re coming to get you". The CO then stopped answering radio traffic and calls to his personal cell phone. My buddy and his company were able to exfil to Kurdish lines – luckily their pos was on the eastern side of Mosul.
De Atkine’s "Why Arabs Lose Wars" is as pertinent as ever. I really do wonder whether there will ever be a competent Arab army that exists outside of a brutal authoritarian dictatorship.
The spying data came from the Europeans; A dereliction of duty?; Petraeus on FP: how not to lose Iraq; Did the Army spend $93 million it shouldn’t have?; Gates on Skelton: a “great oak has fallen.”Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |