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.