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The Iraqi Army Is Losing Their Own War
During the 1980's, Iraq had a powerful army mostly armed with a mix of American, French and Soviet weapons. It fought a war with Iran for nearly eight years over small border differences that both claimed. At the time, most thought Iraq would be able to win easily because it was the regions strongest. Yet, it ended in a draw.
Today, the fledging Iraqi army, trained and armed with American weapons is fighting to save their own country from al-Qaeda affiliated groups. In March, 2014, the terrorist groups won their first battle mostly by default in Western Iraq and seized most of Anbar province, which is a huge part of Iraq. The Iraqi army did not bother to challenge. The Iraqi army are better than the security police in many towns like Qara Tepe or Injana, who simply fled when the al-Qaeda army, operating in small attack groups in American or Japanese trucks began attacking them.
The apathy of the Iraqi Army is seen in nearly all of their troops and in their commanding officers. Even the general of the 12th Iraqi Division in the Kirkuk area doubts his own men. He stated that, "you can see terrorism eating our flesh". Later, he stated, "we are facing a well trained and armed enemy in this area". When the terrorists now attack, they often hold on what they have seized for days or weeks before leaving, if the Iraqi forces try to evict them. Other times, they simply do what they have always done- hit and run tactics destroying bridges, oil wells, etc.
ISIS is the Iraqi's foe. It is a battle for Iraq or part of Iraq. ISIS already has Anbar province, a huge part of Western Iraq. Earlier this year, they seized Ramadi and Fallujah for days and the Iraqi army proved ineffective in doing much about it without more American help like Apache helicopters. ISIS has become a hardened, small army from the experience of fighting in Syria. Now that they realize that Syria will not provide a haven for them, they and others, have turned to Iraq. Defenseless Iraq. Despite the fact that the Iraqi army has been trained and armed for almost 10 years now, it has proven to be pathetic in the field against ISIS. The troops are not motivated to save their own country. Ironically, the same thing happened in the last years of the Vietnam war. Then, the same thing occurred. The South Vietnamese army simply fled when attacked most of the time despite the years of training and equipment.
It seems, even the most basic things for the Iraqi army are difficult. From simply combat maneuvers to even supply food to their foot soldiers during operations who often scrounge for it. Troops simply go AWOL when food is not provided, this problem is much more prevalent in areas that ISIS operates. Sometimes a company that is suppose to have 130 men, has only 90 that show up. When General Dulaimi was in a convoy of 50 Humvees moving through Ramadi, it was ambushed by hundreds of ISIS men. The general called in for artillery or air support, he was told that none was available and that he was on his own! As he noted, in the 80's, this would never had happened. Well, support finally did arrive, some five hours later in the form of a single prop plane firing two missiles. At least one missile hit its target. General Dulaimi, realizing the mess he was in, fled to save himself.
Dulaimi tends to blame the U.S. for not delivering the Apache helicopters and the 36 F-16 fighters Iraq bought. over a year ago. America has not delivered them because the U.S. Congress does not want to support the Maliki regime.
Those who have trained the Iraqis indicate that once the U.S. was no longer there, everything that promotes a national army has vanished. The Iraqis have abandoned organization and training and educational infrastructures. The officer training academy set up for future leaders is vacant. The U.S. left huge warehouses of spare parts for their equipment that have not been used. Within the army, there is a lot of distrust in the leaders from Sunni, Shiite and Kurds. They treat subordinates differently if they not from the same tribe.
ISIS is also targeting northern Iraq near the border with Iran. Is Iran and ISIS forming some sort of Axis of Evil. Iran plays a heavy role of influence in Iraq. Could Iran actually use ISIS as a proxy, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, to gain control over sections of Iraq that would benefit them politically? ISIS could be receiving weapons from Iran in exchange for their cooperation.
Iraq is in a dangerous place. Its army is not willing to fight its own war for survival. It is hard to understand why. America gave them all the tools to carry on towards success, and yet, it continues to slowly fail in face of a well motivated and armed ISIS army numbering tens of thousands.