Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Why the Iraqi army won’t fight: It isn’t for lack of equipment, training or doctrine

The problem with the Iraqi army isn’t lack of training, or command and control structures, or insufficient counterinsurgency training. The forces they are fighting — and losing to — don’t have any of that. The reason the Iraqi army won’t fight is that it lacks a reason to do so. This is a problem of ...

HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images

The problem with the Iraqi army isn't lack of training, or command and control structures, or insufficient counterinsurgency training. The forces they are fighting -- and losing to -- don't have any of that.

The reason the Iraqi army won't fight is that it lacks a reason to do so. This is a problem of governance. Their enemies are willing to fight and die for their cause. They advance in Toyota pickups, probably communicate via cellphone, and apparently have found little opposition from Sunni inhabitants.

The problem is that many Iraqi government soldiers are not willing to die for Maliki's version of Iraq.

The problem with the Iraqi army isn’t lack of training, or command and control structures, or insufficient counterinsurgency training. The forces they are fighting — and losing to — don’t have any of that.

The reason the Iraqi army won’t fight is that it lacks a reason to do so. This is a problem of governance. Their enemies are willing to fight and die for their cause. They advance in Toyota pickups, probably communicate via cellphone, and apparently have found little opposition from Sunni inhabitants.

The problem is that many Iraqi government soldiers are not willing to die for Maliki’s version of Iraq.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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