Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Looks like the Iraqi Army is improving

At the onset of ISIL's attack on Iraq, the army of that country basically collapsed like a house of cards.  Its troops (and, more to the point, its commanders) fled in panic from Mosul as the city fell with almost no resistance offered.

Fortunately, it seems that Iraq's army has been re-learning how to fight.  Chris Hernandez reports:

I was pretty happy when I recently met a US Marine Corps advisor to an Iraqi armored division. This officer deployed twice to Iraq as a tanker, and made trips to Afghanistan to see how tanks were being employed there. Policy prevents me from identifying him, so I’ll call him Brad.

. . .

“We don’t accompany the Iraqis. Mostly, they’re doing it, they don’t need us,” Brad said. “It’s like the old parable, ‘what you expect of people they tend to deliver’. If we don’t accompany them, the Iraqi Army realizes they need to do it on their own. The only thing we really have a problem with is that they move at their speed, and we want them to move faster. But when it comes to the rubber really meeting the road...

“I was part of an operation earlier this month. They were clearing a road, and it was heavily defended by Daesh. They ran into several problems, they lost one of their senior leaders, they had issues where certain units weren’t performing as well as others. But they adjusted their scheme of maneuver on the fly, they provided relatively accurate reporting, they were relatively responsive to our requests for information while they were in the middle of the fight. Their problems now lie in basic soldierly proficiency. They’re in the war now, and they don’t have time to focus on just basic soldiering. They have to keep everybody on the line, they have to keep everybody attacking.”

Basic proficiency is a big deal though, especially considering all the complex tasks that go into running a tank. So where are they as far as being able to perform basic tanker tasks?

“I mean, are they US Marines or American Army? No. Those are the two finest fighting forces in the world. But they adapt to changing tactical situations, they continue to press despite casualties and IEDs. Are they incredibly proficient at accurate fires and all those thing? Well, they’ve got some work to do in that area. But when it comes to behaving like a professional army, they’re making great strides every day, actually. It takes decades to produce the kind of culture and institutional knowledge the US Army and Marine Corps have with their tanks. It takes going to gunnery twice a year, year after year, it takes officers who have been to multiple gunneries, the Master Gunner program, you know, all those things they just don’t have time to do. They are at just a basic level of proficiency. I think the biggest thing to say about this is…they’re not us, but they’re resilient, and they don’t give up. The fighting spirit’s really there.”

. . .

What can you say about our strategy to defeat ISIS?

“It blew my mind when I got here. Cause I’d been watching the news and following the election back home, and I’ve only been out here a couple months on the ground, and within a week I’m like, ‘This is fucking brilliant. This is really working.’ We don’t know why it’s so hard to convince everybody back home that thinks, you know, ‘We should send our own troops in, the Iraqis aren’t good enough.’ No, we’ll let the politicians decide how we’re going to do this. I’m just telling you, what I’m doing here right now without accompanying them, just providing advice and assistance, it’s working just fine.

“The talking heads who want to complain about the strategy here, if you come here for five minutes and you actually see what’s happening on the ground, it’s a very different story. I am seeing this strategy work every day. It’s slow, but there’s not a lot of Americans dying. And Daesh hasn’t taken any new territory. They’re losing. A hundred meters at a time, they’re losing. Steadily and completely.

“Again, don’t let me paint too rosy of a picture, but it’s just not that bad. There are some units aren’t very good, but we’ve taken ground since I got here, and we’ve held it. ISIS has counterattacked, and we’ve still held it. And we’re planning on taking more.”

Will ISIS ever be truly defeated in Iraq?

“Without a doubt, given enough time and our patient support, eventually the last ISIS fighter will be out of Iraq. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but it’s inevitable. As long as we continue to support them, they will eventually eliminate the last ISIS fighter inside the borders of Iraq.”

There's much more at the link.

Iraqi tankers certainly seem to be learning to fight their tanks better than their predecessors.  Here's a snap shot from an Iraqi M1 tank at an ISIL suicide bomb vehicle in December last year.

On target, I'd say.



Anonymous said...

Yes I know the Abrams is a great tank but can the Iraqis maintain them? Their T-72's were in pretty poor shape.

Old NFO said...

Well, at least ONE tank is a good shot...

michigan doug said...

Living in a field of rubble.Kinda like Detroit.

Chuck Pergiel said...

A year ago the Iraq army couldn't do anything right. Then they got some new leaders and they started acting like an army. Seems like the guys we (the USA) supported did not inspire any confidence in the troops. Some kind of religious bullshit I suppose, or maybe the troops just had better bullshit detectors than the US State Department.

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't be talking about this if our brilliant National Command Authority had listened to the US Military and left 10,000 to 30,000 troops in Iraq. How many thousands of Iraqis dead, wounded, raped, and displaced because one idiot knew better? Christians driven from their homes of 2000 years, Yazidis raped, murdered and enslaved.

Then again, they are also responsible for the conversion of Relatively Peaceful Libya into Mogadishu on the Mediterranean. Which destabilized Mali too. But they can always point to their successes in Yemen too.

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't have any of this mess if we hadn't invaded Iraq to begin with. That has to be one of the biggest strategic blunders in us history and that's really saying something. Invading Iraq because (mostly) Saudis carried out 9/11. That's neocon genius at work I guess. We're still sending our sons to die in Afghanistan and we should've been out of there by 2003 at the latest. Turned what should have been a simple punitive expedition into a 15 year multi-trillion dollar clusterfuck with no end in sight. During that time over 2 million people, from countries deemed so dangerous that we must bomb and make war on them, have been allowed to enter the US and establish residence here. Good thing we're fighting them over there? Uh...yeah. hmm. :/