In Iraqi Town, Trainees Are Also Suspects
"There's two kinds of Iraqis here, the ones who help us and the ones who shoot us, and there's an awful lot of 'em doing both," said Hoover, 26, of Newark, Ohio. "Is it frustrating? Yes, it's frustrating. But we can't just stop working with them."I'm sure that many if not most veterans of Vietnam could identify with that.
The incident is a window on the mixed results of U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces. American troops trying to tame the restive northern town of Hawijah have done what has proven impossible in many Sunni Arab enclaves: raised a security force from local volunteers. More than 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and 2,000 policemen patrol the area, virtually all of them drawn from the city and the pastoral hamlets that surround it.That same mistrust of the local population and police and military forces in Vietnam led to hate of the Vietnamese people by American forces.
But in a town where the local population is hostile to the American presence in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have developed a deep distrust of their Iraqi counterparts following a slew of incidents that suggest the troops they are training are cooperating with their enemies.
Earlier this month, a U.S. sniper team caught 14 policemen placing roadside bombs in the nearby town of Riyadh. More than 60 other police officers are named on a watch list of suspected insurgent collaborators, according to U.S. military policemen who train them.
But that's the Sunnis you say, you would expect them to be bitter. Well it's not just the Sunnis. Last October I discussed the Iraqi army's 1st Brigade. The 1st Brigade is in large part made up of Shiite Militia members who had this to say:
Some Iraqi troops went a step further, saying they were only awaiting word from the marja'iya before turning on American forces. Although many Shiites are grateful for the overthrow of Saddam, they also are suspicious of U.S. motives. Those suspicions partly stem from the failure of the first Bush administration to support a U.S.-encouraged Shiite uprising against Saddam in 1991. Saddam suppressed it and slaughtered thousands.Is this a place where you want America's finest? At this point the very best outcome we can hope for in Iraq is a Shiite theocracy allied with Iran. Was this worth all the American lives and treasure?
Sgt. Jawad Majid chimed in: "We have our marja'iya and we are waiting for them to decide when the time to fight (the Americans) is, when it is no longer time to be silent."