Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finally, In the Department of Desperate Moves

In an article (U.S. Widens Push to Use Armed Iraqi Residents) detailing another crackpot scheme in Iraq, the Washington Post tells us,

    The U.S. military in Iraq is expanding its efforts to recruit and fund armed         Sunni residents as local protection forces in order to improve security and         promote reconciliation at the neighborhood level, according to senior U.S.         commanders.

Gendavidpetraeus In an article (U.S. Widens Push to Use Armed Iraqi Residents) detailing another crackpot scheme in Iraq, the Washington Post tells us,
The U.S. military in Iraq is expanding its efforts to recruit and fund armed Sunni residents as local protection forces in order to improve security and promote reconciliation at the neighborhood level, according to senior U.S. commanders.

Within the past month, the U.S. military command in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq ordered subordinate units to step up creation of the local forces, authorizing commanders to pay the fighters with U.S. emergency funds, reward payments and other monies.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. An astounding admission that, after spending $19 billion on training various Iraqi authorities, they are still unable to police Baghdad.
New York City, for all five boroughs, spends $3.3 billion a year for police. Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be passing up an interesting proposal, which is about to be test-driven in Baghdad. Block captains are not all that new an idea in American cities, but armed and empowered block captaincy that is encouraged to clean things up, that’s an idea whose time may have come. Quoting a local U.S. area commander,
“You can't just shoot anybody. No vengeance . . . But the bad guys -- I don't care. Go get them.”
Iraqiexecution So, vengeance in a tribal culture where vengeance enjoys a 5,000 year history, is off-limits. Doesn’t the commander realize that identifying the bad guys has been our major and sustaining problem?
Residents please note: If you think you have been shot by a neighbor because your are a Shiite and he is a Sunni, just fill out a DoD Form 313666-A, Anti-Vengeance Relief Form and mail it, with the signatures of two surviving witnesses, to Col. Ricky D. Gibbs. If Gibbs has not yet been rotated out, you may expect a reply within 12 months, unless your home has been burned down and your return address is therefore no longer applicable.
Colrickygibbs One wonders if any decision that applies to post-invasion Iraq has been made intelligently.
Col. Ricky D. Gibbs, the U.S. commander in the area, met with half a dozen influential Sunni leaders to discuss forming neighborhood protection groups, as well as to share intelligence.

A local Sunni leader, a bespectacled man in a red striped shirt, leaned across the table and handed Gibbs a list of 250 names of Sunni residents willing to serve in a local force.

"They will clear the neighborhood of anyone who belongs to al-Qaeda or JAM [a Shiite militia] or even carries a bullet," the man said. "We want you, sir, to give us the green light. They are ready."
"You have the green light," Gibbs answered.
Lpaulbremer That was followed by his advisory about vengeance.
Presumably, these Sunnis that Gibbs was interviewing are the remainder of the Iraqi Army that L. Paul Bremer disbanded and sent home four years ago. Bremer opted for a Shiite controlled Iraq, which meant that all the experts were suddenly out of work and the incompetents ran the show. I will restrain myself from drawing a parallel to Washington shortly after the Supreme Court seated our first unelected president.
Or, these Sunnis may be pre-war members of the Baghdad Police who were also given pink slips by Bremer, himself long gone from the scene of his incompetence. Bremer serves these days as Chairman of the Advisory Board for GlobalSecure Corporation, a company whose focus is "on securing the homeland with integrated products and services for the critical incident response community worldwide." Talk about a big salary for political access. Can the homeland survive both Mike Chertoff and Bremer?
Gibbs, commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, estimates that he needs up to 6,000 new police officers and 18 more police stations in Rasheed. "I am looking for a group of loyal Iraqis who will carry weapons and go after the same people we want," he said in an interview. "We will teach them U.S. rules of engagement and tell them to capture them, not kill them," he said. He said some of the men coming forward may have worked with insurgents in the past in order to survive.
Sunniinsurgent Or they may have been out settling scores, doing the vengeance thing. One of the problems, Colonel, is that you don’t know who the same people we want actually are. The people we want are (probably) an insurgency and Sunnis are (probably) apt to see them differently than we do. Last time I checked, most of the insurgents were Sunnis.
Listen very carefully. They are insurgents because they want control of their country back from the Shiites, who were given it by L. Paul Bremer. Now, write that on the blackboard twenty times and don’t count too much on American rules of engagement.
The U.S. military will use its funds to "jump-start" the local forces in stages, U.S. officers said. Initially, the military will pay local residents who call in successful tips that turn up roadside bombs or weapons, or lead to the capture of insurgents. Next, it will identify residents for the security forces, vet their names and take their fingerprints, and require them to take an oath of loyalty to the government.
Which brings a whole new meaning to the term jump-start. But Colonel, wasn’t that supposed to be what we bought for our $19 billion?
A chief concern for U.S. troops will be how to prevent intentional or accidental conflicts between the groups, said Lt. Col. George A. Glaze, commander of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, who oversees the Sadiyah neighborhood where the 250 Sunnis volunteered. "I see the firefight on the street corner" between Iraqi police and local forces, he said, "and I have to pick a side?"
Bushmaliki Much more likely Colonel, that you won’t know who the hell is who, since most Iraqi death squads, insurgents, kidnappers and other violent types find it useful to wear the uniforms of Iraqi police. In a country where we don’t speak the language, can’t read the street signs and have to rely on unreliable interpreters; a place where we have sent home and made pauper anyone who knew anything--someone made the preposterous decision to arm those who were kicked out.
We euphemistically call that an improvement to security. It’s called that, not because it is, but because we desperately need something that goes by the name and time is running short. Colonels Gibbs and Glaze are not to blame, nor perhaps is a desperate administration at this point. They set today up for disaster by the hubris and incompetence of decisions made five years ago.
Soldiercoffins It’s too late for blame in any form that brings satisfaction. Too late to fix what needs to be fixed, too late to save the disaster that will occur when we leave, too late to leave with even a semblance of honor. Except individually. It is still not too late to die for your country. Individually, from first death to today’s, American troops have unhesitatingly offered themselves up to kick down doors, give candy and high-fives to kids and die with honor for the misbegotten political intransigence of those less honorable.
Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, the Iraqi commander overseeing the five-month-old U.S.-Iraqi security plan, has given only verbal approval for Iraqi security forces to allow the new armed groups to operate unhindered in specific areas that he has visited, such as Abu Ghraib and Mansour, said Campbell, who escorted the Iraqi general to the areas.
Reading the general’s thoughts; “You Americans gonna give these Sunnis weapons?”
Targeting the Sunni recruits would be easy for the government after their names are provided for vetting, Campbell said. "What we have to make sure is they don't take those names and turn around and say, 'Hey, this is our targeting list.' We're very cognizant of that."
Cognizance doesn’t count for much on the way out, for those left behind.
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