The Arab "Military Culture"

Straight Scoop About Iraqi Military From Onsite Marine.

Hello everyone,

Tomorrow will be our 6 month mark, and then only 6 more months to go! Everything is fine and works in cycles. Some weeks see more activity than others based on the insurgents cycles of regrouping and refitting.

The first province was turned over to Iraqi security forces and the goal is for all the provinces to be turned over to the ISF by the end of 07 with the exception of Anbar and Baghdad. Baghdad is the heart of the Sunni Triangle and Anbar is the primary route of the "rat lines", Iraq's Ho Chi Min Trail where the foreign fighters, weapons, and supplies are making their way into the country.

Our new Iraqi battalion commander is turning out to be alright. He punched one of his warrant officers because he was allowing his men to live like pigs (in the Iraqi military it is OK for officers to strike their men, there is no official military justice system in the Iraqi army). He has denied some of his officers leave to make them do their jobs and is docking pay from soldiers who violate rules.

Our old battalion commander is trying to evade his investigation about his skimming money from Iraqi army food contracts and the soldiers themselves.

The brigade general is also involved in the corruption...which is why nothing is happening. Our executive officer returned after 6 months of paid sick leave only to find is dealings in the scam are under investigation, so yesterday he went back on sick leave, all approved by the general

The biggest lesson I have learned over 6 months here is that the Iraqi culture is incapable of sustaining a western style military. The Arabic style military it can function with is distasteful to western soldiers: officers who hit their men, officer and senior enlisted men who regularly steal from their men, using leadership to openly grant yourself more food and standard of living items while your men go without, taking food from civilians while searching their houses, taking food from crops while searching for weapons caches, and all the while professing to be men of God.

Not to mention the Iraqi culture is so absolutely LAZY that nothing gets done unless we force them to do it.

More of our soldiers went AWOL, new food supplies came in yesterday from Ramadi but were grossly insufficient, new soldiers arrived but their initial military training is substandard and you can tell they are really just here for a paycheck. Iraqi army communications gear is insufficient and not encrypted (we actually have had unidentified people calling on the Iraqi frequencies requesting tactical information...and the Iraqis actually give it to them without knowing who it is).

So after 6 months we've:

- taught them techniques for planning operations...they won't do it.
- shown them how to conduct weapons sustainment ranges...they won't do it.
- we've shown them how to conduct convoys...they won't do it.
- we've taught them moral and ethical behavior required of soldiers...they won't do it.
- we've taught them how to manage logistics...they won't do it.
- we've taught them personnel and administrative management...they won't do it.
- we've taught them how to operate tactically...they won't do it.
- we've taught them how to sustain the life support systems on the camp...they won't do it.

Basically we have taught them how to be a self sufficient battalion, but unless the Marines do it for them, they won't do anything. They ALWAYS revert back to the "Iraqi way" when we are not around and that involves DESTROYING and WASTING everything they get their hands on.

But other than all that they say they are "dedicated" to the future of Iraq...should be a bright and wonderful future.

So that's about it. Hope all is well, the weather here has cooled down, it's only 110 this morning. Take care and talk to you all later.

A Marine in Iraq

Editor's Note: The following was added by a retired Marine who had received the email quoted above.

"It is not surprising to me, as that seems to be the norm in that and many other regions of the world. We tried to form a Saudi Marine Corps along Western lines and that too was a disaster, with officers having their Paki batmen carry their packs for them!"