In the last year, Iraq has bought
over $3 billion worth of U.S. weapons and military equipment. Those purchases
are increasing. According to Iraqi officers, many of whom served during the
1991 and 2003 operations, their former Russian equipment was clearly inadequate
compared to U.S. material. Moreover, Iraqi troops are now being trained to U.S.
standards, and will be more effective if they use American equipment. Thus the
Iraqis are switching from the simple, robust Russian AK-47, to the more
accurate, but more difficult to maintain, M-16 family of small arms. But now the
better trained Iraqi troops can make use of the more effective M-16 weapons.
also the psychological angle. Iraqis have been watching U.S. troops in action
for the last five years, and have been impressed. Iraqi uniforms are similar to
American ones, and Iraqis even adopt any special flourishes they see U.S.
troops using (the way equipment is worn, or new moves the troops are using.)
The big orders will come when the Iraqis start looking for new tanks and
warplanes. The only two suppliers of new tanks are the U.S. and Russia, and the
Iraqis have had it with Russian stuff. The Europeans may snag some aircraft
sales with the adroit use of bribes (which European governments are more
tolerant of, and Iraqis very receptive to.) Tank and warplane sales could
amount to over a hundred billion dollars. Recent oil exploration activities in
Iraq, indicate new oil fields that could make Iraq's reserves larger than those
in Saudi Arabia (currently sitting the largest deposits of oil in the world.)
Iraq is thinking big, for better or worse.