Leadership: Defining Independence in Iraq

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December 9, 2005: One of the most common criticisms, of the effort by the United States and coalition partners to train the Iraqi Army, has been the claim that, after two years of effort, only one Iraqi battalion is capable of independent operations. In this case, it depends on how one defines "independent" - and the critics have been using a very stringent definition of independent.

It needs to be noted that even a battalion of U.S. Marines, or from the 82nd Airborne Division, are not truly independent in the standard being used to claim the training of Iraqi Army is not going well. The Marines often rely on the United States Navy to deliver them to combat zones. The 82nd Airborne relies on the U.S. Air Force. For air support, they rely on aircraft and helicopters from other units in the Marines and Army, and aircraft from the Navy and Air Force. It's called combined arms, and

What is happening is that Iraqi units are taking the lead in a number of areas. Just recently, and Iraqi crew flew a solo mission in a C-130E. There are 17 bases that have been turned over to Iraqis, and recently, the Iraqi 2nd Army Brigade took over control of operations in its sector (one division, three other brigades, and over 30 battalions were also doing so). There are presently more Iraqi troops (225,000 and rising) than American and Coalition forces in Iraq (159,000 and 23,000) combined. Outside the eye of the mainstream media, Iraqi units have been fighting, dying, and scoring successes (disarming improvised explosive devices and capturing terrorists).

The fact is that in this case, as has been the case with other aspects of Iraq, the media has been misreporting the facts and leaving out context. In this case, the media misreporting has allowed a false claim to maintain a lot more credibility than it deserves. - Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com)

 


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