Morale: Iraqi Army Upgrades Its Medical System


June 8, 2007: Iraq is spending over a billion dollars to have American suppliers and contractors beef up the Iraqi military medical system. This is long overdue, especially since more Iraqi troops have been fighting in Sunni Arab areas, where, because of terrorist activity, the local hospitals have often ceased to function. When Saddam ran the country, there was a network of military hospitals. But these were mainly a perk for the Sunni Arab troops that served to keep Saddam in power. As a result, when Saddam was deposed, those military hospitals became civilian hospitals. Iraqi security troops now had to depend on local civilian hospitals for care. That worked when there was a hospital nearby, but not when the wounded soldier was in some area without a functioning hospital. Moreover, the civilian hospitals were not equipped to provide the long terms care that badly wounded soldiers needed.

So far, Iraqi troops have suffered about fifty percent more wounded than American forces, and have noted that wounded Americans got much better care. Occasionally, a wounded Iraqi soldier was sent to an American hospital for care, especially if it was a small group of Iraqi troops operating with an American unit, serving as interpreters or scouts. Once treated, these Iraqi troops would return to their units with wondrous tales the fantastic hospital facilities the Americans had. These stories spread, and got embellished. It became a morale problem for the Iraqis.

Iraqi troops don't operate the same way their American counterparts. U.S. troops notice that real quick, the first time they deal with Iraqi soldiers. Part of the problem has been the Iraqi feeling that the Americans have all manner of magical equipment that makes them nearly invincible. Even after Iraqis are equipped with American body armor, nigh vision gear and first aid kits, they still complain that, if they are hit, they will get very inferior care from Iraqi hospitals. To deal with this, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense is going to attempt a massive upgrade of the medical care provided for the troops. The biggest danger to this plan is the corruption that lays upon Iraq like a wet, rancid, blanket. However, in this case, it's generals and senior ministry officials who would also benefit from a general upgrade in medical grade. So there's a chance that one form of self-interest will cancel out another.


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