Counter-Terrorism: Looking For What Doesn't Look Right

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February 20, 2010: Iraq have cracked down on tailors who make army and police uniforms, in order to reduce terrorist attacks. Iraqi counter-terror forces have discovered that terrorists pretending to be police or soldiers were not using stolen uniforms, but ones made by tailors. It's not that the tailors are looking for business from terrorists (there are too few attacks made using uniforms for that), but because the government does not buy enough uniforms for their security forces. Moreover, some soldiers and police want higher quality uniforms. So most of the privately made uniforms are for security troops who simply can't get enough equipment from the government.

American advisors caution Iraqi security troops to pay more attention to how uniformed personnel act, not what they are wearing. Terrorists use the uniforms to help them get past checkpoints. But even with fake ID, police and soldiers should be suspicious of people in uniform who don't act like they are trained professionals. This is easier to do these days, because most Iraqi police and soldiers have undergone a lot of training, and take pride in acting the part. Seven years of seeing American troops up close has made a huge impact on Iraqi attitudes towards military matters. Although it’s a bitter memory, Iraqis know that U.S. troops decisively defeated Iraqi troops several times since 2001. Having seen the Americans up close for so long, the Iraqi troops have come to imitate the way these foreign warriors move, especially when on operations. Before the Americans came along, the only time Iraqi troops moved in a particularly martial manner was when marching in formation, usually for a parade. American advisors are aware of this, and tell Iraqi troops and police to look for the absence of "military appearance". In effect, they are pointing out that Iraqi troops don't move like civilians anymore. So look for civilians in uniform every time a vehicle of guys in uniform come by. Look at their weapons. If you see any AK-47s, be suspicious (Iraqi forces are converting to M-16s and M-4s). If the weapons do not look well cared for (American instructors are fanatical with Iraqi trainees when it comes to keeping weapons clean), be suspicious.

Meanwhile, American supply specialists are working hard to help the Iraqis build an efficient logistical system, so that enough uniforms are available for all the troops that need them.

 


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