Karl Gallagher (libertarianhawk) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Training Iraqis in the Big Picture

The WSJ has a detailed article on the screw-ups in providing Army advisors to new Iraqi Army units. I'd seen pieces of that before, but having it all put together is enough to piss me off even more. Highlights:
- Trainers are not getting the logistic support they need
- Active duty officers are vying for troop command, not the nominally-top-priority training slots (this one I blame on the promotion system)
- Most training is being done by reservists and drafts from regular units (ie, whoever the brigade commander decided he could do without)
- Training for the trainers is horribly bad

The last point produced these quotes in after action reports:
"In my 28 years of military service I have never seen such an appalling approach to training. Nowhere else in the Army system would this have been acceptable." - Col. Demas (SF vet)

"By the time the training was finished, soldiers were demoralized, motivation was nonexistent and the team motto came from the Jo Dee Messina lyric, 'my give-a-damn's busted,'" - Lt. Col. James Goodwillie
That's an impressive level of bluntness for an official report. I've written about those issues before. The news story is a good sign that things are going to improve, partly because it's quoting a four-star promising changes, but mostly because by the time the major media outlets notice a problem, everyone involved has known for months at least and has the fix underway. Here's another discussion of the problem with some suggested fixes.

In short, it's the level of performance that gave us the term SNAFU. Naturally the reactions tend to fall into two camps:
1. All hope is gone, give up now
2. Another bump in the road, still making progress

Both of which make perfect sense in the context of the strategy they prefer for dealing with Islamofascism. Or, since the strategy is a consequence of that, as a result of the axioms they view the world in. There's a great line from Daniel Moynihan about how everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. Unfortunately axioms control how facts are collected, interpreted, and verified. We don't have a common set of facts to work from, and the overlap between the different fact-sets seems to be shrinking each year. I don't see any way to resolve that other than pressing on until there's an event that clearly shatters one axiom or another.
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