Leadership: Iraqis Fight Like Americans

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March 28, 2008: The Iraqi security forces are replacing all of their AK-47s with U.S. M-16 and M-4 assault rifles. To that end, it has ordered another 100,000 M-16 rifles. In the last two years, it has received 235,000 M-16 and M-4 rifles.  This new order, includes 4,000 AN/PVS-7D Night Vision scopes and a lot of support gear (trucks, generators and such).

 

Many Iraqi troops are not keen on getting the M-16. They know it is more accurate, and that they are getting more target practice to improve their shooting skills. But the M-16 requires more maintenance. You have to clean it a lot. The less accurate AK-47 was much more tolerant when it came to sand and dust. However, Iraqi NCOs and junior officers tend to prefer the M-16 for its lighter weight, and lighter ammo. The M-16 ammo weighs more than a third less than AK-47 rounds. That extra accuracy and ammo can be a lifesaver in combat. Iraqi NCOs also note that the U.S. troops manage to keep their weapons clean, and believe that Iraqis can be trained to be as diligent.

 

Iraqis may differ on whether U.S. troops should be in the country, but all agree that the Americans are formidable warriors. Increasingly, Iraqi troops are wearing similar combat uniforms and driving hummers. The Iraqi soldiers consciously copy their  U.S. counterparts. This includes handling their weapons, and moving around, in a similar fashion. But it isn't all superficial imitation, the Iraqis stand and fight now. U.S. troops, back in Iraq after having been away for a year or so, are pleasantly surprised to find, when called to reinforce an Iraqi unit (like a checkpoint, or a police station) under fire, that the Iraqis are now fighting harder and smarter. In the past, the U.S. troops would often show up to find the Iraqi troops or police had fled.

 

With so many Iraqi units equipped with M-16s, and wearing similar uniforms, it's often hard to tell Iraqis and Americans apart. This has led to situations where, in the thick of combat, a U.S. NCO goes up to a soldier and yells an order, which results in an Iraqi soldier turning around and giving the U.S. sergeant a puzzled look.

 

 

 

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