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Someone should care, maybe not you....

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

18 July 2005

News from Iraq....

I got an email from my friend that is off training the Iraqi army. Here, for your enlightenment, is an excerpt from his email. (posted with his permission)

Our job is to "mentor" the new Iraqi Army, which is made up mostly of former-regime generals and brand-new everybody else. Should be a tough gig, since what they really lack is a Western-style work-ethic and a concept of accoutability. Having said that, I suspect that I may be the right guy for the job, having worked with Arabs before. I wish this assignment had come up earlier in my career, but I'm glad to have the opportunity. I expect it to be the most frustrating and reqarding year of my career.
I'll probably be in the International Zone in Baghdad, which everyone tells me is "comfort city." I have already started working on the restaurant overlay on FalconView. Baghdad also has about 70% of the country's VBIED's and indirect fire attacks, so I suspect the comfort factor will be balanced out by the manmade precipitation.
Iraq isn't too exciting yet. We've been mortared and sniped at a few times, but most attacks are unenthusiastic play-for-pay affairs in which we have to wait until the next day to find ut where the rounds landed. Most attacks, surprisingly, take place during daylight, because the "muj" have to take pictures of themselves firing in order to get paid. If you're going to fight paople, it's best to fight lazy, stupid people.
We got a class on the AK-47 taught by Iraqi drill sergeants last night, and our interpreter (a doctor) was not up to the task, so I got to translate. I haven't used my Arabic since 1997, but the Iraqis were amazed to see any Gringo who could speak any Arabic.


Now a few points to be made from this:
1. "play for pay" attacks - this means the actual "bad guys" pay some poor ignorent yokel several days or weeeks wages (usually in the vicinity of $10-20) to launch an attack on the Americans. This is very common in Afghanistan too. So many if not most of our "attackers" aren't doing it becasue they hate us. they are doing it becasue they are getting paid to do it.

2. "...fight lazy, stupid, people" I agree whole heartedly!

3. "...what they really lack is a Western-style work-ethic and a concept of accoutability." This is an issue that we have to deal with often. The american soldier, press and peopel seem to expect the new army in Iraq (or in Afghanistan) to be just like Uncle Sam's. It doesn't work that way. It took generations for our Army to become what it is. It will take generations for theirs to get to our level. If ever.

4. "...the Iraqis were amazed to see any Gringo who could speak any Arabic." This is a major failing of the Army. It has been real obvious for a LONG time that the Middle East, or South West Asia as the Army prefers to call it, was going to be a big playground for the troops. Yet we have a terrible time getting people to learn Arabic and a harder time keeping them in the service once they learn it. Of course the same is true of Korean, Chinese, Russian, and just about any other language. DLI is a great school but more needs to be done than send somebody to school.

Well, just some random comments.
Incidently, if you don't read Froggy Ruminations, a blog about Navy SEALS, you should. Or at least you should go read Froggy's description of the memorial service in Hawaii for the SEALS just lost in Afghanistan. Read the Comments too.

2 Comments:

Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Interesting points. I'm so ignorant of what's going on there it's not even funny, so I appreciate hearing from someone who's there.

My guess about the whole learning Arabic thing is that once someone has learned Arabic and has any kind of college degree, they could make big bucks working for some corporation. It was kind of like learning Japanese in the 70s and 80s. Now, I'm assuming this so if I'm wrong, go ahead and correct me.

1:48 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

That is part of it of course. the other part is that if you are an arabic speaker you tend to spend alot of time attached to frontline units or direct suppost. Which means you get to spend quite a bit of time sitting in the desserts even when there is peace. Arabic is also a very difficult language to learn and keep up and the active Army tends to look at linguists who aren't deployed as detail soldiers. It does not lead to intense motivation to stay in. I have heard that this is getting better. We shall see.

6:09 AM  

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