|(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
With the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the responsibility of maintaining state security fell into the hands of the Iraqi Security Forces. In spite of years of military training provided by the United States along with other NATO members, many remain concerned that Iraq’s military may still be incapable of securing the its border and airspace without outside assistance. A vulnerable security force becomes a major issue considering not domestic challenges to the military’s authority, but also the tensions that arise with an increasingly-hostile Iranian neighbor.
Although the focus among most pundits and politicians is upon the appropriateness removing U.S. troops from Iraq, few question why Iraqi forces remain largely inept to protect their own state. Though the simple answer may be to say that creating a military organization from the ground-up takes time, it may be the case that no amount of training, money, or time can “fix” the Iraqi military. In his book, “Arabs at War”, Kenneth Pollack notes a similar phenomenon that occurred when the U.S. trained Egyptian forces. Despite decades of education, technological infusion, and joint military exercises, the Egyptian military simply did not respond to Western military perspectives and failed to make adjustments necessary to make its forces tactically viable to execute complex, modern operations. This too may be the fate for the Iraqi Security Forces, whom too have been exposed to a Western re-education, but may simply choose not to adopt these teachings.
This creates an additional question: If there was no guarantee that the Iraqi military would respond to lengthy military training, why would the United States be willing to expend the time and resources required to work the Iraqi military? Although, some may suggest that such training was necessary to prepare Iraq to reclaim its sovereignty, others may contend that such training would create Iraqi dependency upon the U.S. for further military and technological support. The latter view gains traction when noting a recent NYTimes article reporting that the Obama administration has approved of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi forces, in spite of limited results of previous military training efforts. Though such a deal would be a mere drop in the bucket considering the enormous cost of blood and treasure incurred by the United States since 2003, the creation of a new market for technology and military expertise may be a way to justify unproductive training and arming of foreign forces as worthwhile cause.