Some Iraqi Army units worthless in their own fight

Antonio Castaneda:

The plan was simple: Iraqi troops would block escape routes while U.S. soldiers searched for weapons house by house. But the Iraqi troops didn't show up on time.
When they finally did appear, the Iraqis ignored U.S. orders and let dozens of cars -- including an ambulance full of armed militiamen -- pass through checkpoints in eastern Baghdad, American soldiers said in recent interviews.
It wasn't an isolated incident, they added.
U.S. commanders have hailed the performance of Iraqi troops in the crackdown on militias and insurgents in Baghdad. But some U.S. soldiers say the Iraqis serving alongside them are among the worst they've ever seen -- seeming more loyal to militias than the government.
Last week, for example, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Sheehan discovered that barriers and concertina wire that were supposed to bolster defensive positions had been dragged away -- again -- under the noses of nearby Iraqi soldiers.
I "suggest we fire these IAs and get them out of the way," Sgt. Sheehan, of Jennerstown, Pa., reported to senior officers, referring to Iraqi army troops.
"There's nothing we can do," came the reply.
U.S. soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment eventually blocked the road again while Iraqi troops watched from a distance.
Some Americans speculated that the missing barriers were dragged off to strengthen militia defenses in nearby Sadr City, a sprawling Shi'ite neighborhood that is a stronghold of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
"They've been doing this all week. They're working against us," said Sgt. Sheehan, who woke up the senior Iraqi officer at the checkpoint to complain -- futilely.
During another mission, Iraqi soldiers were suspected of looting the house of a wealthy resident, U.S. troops said.
Some Americans said they had seen much better Iraqi troops in the northern cities of Mosul and Tal-Afar, which have more Kurdish soldiers. They have been disappointed by the performance of units committed to the Baghdad fight.
U.S. officers think the problem has political and sectarian roots: Many of the Iraqi soldiers in the capital are Shi'ites recruited from the Baghdad area.
There is more. Castaneda is a good reporter whose past stories have all been very fair to US troops so I think this report should be taken seriously. He is not one of the reporters who wants to lose in Iraq. However, the Iraqis have to do something about this lack of disipline in their army, if they are serious about wanting to take over security responsibility for the country. The reason the US forces are back in baghdad is because of the failure of Iraqi police forces. If the Army is not going o follow orders it is worsetha worthless.


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