Do you spell Vietnam I-R-A-Q?

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An interesting insight from Iraq via an anonymous informant for the Investors Insight /What We Now Know email newsletter. The cynical could draw parallels between the South Vietnamese Forces versus the Hill Tribes and the Iraqis versus the Kurd comparisons.


Our anonymous “on-the-ground” informant, Mr. X, is back. After his last assignment as a bodyguard for executives of a reconstruction company in Baghdad ended, we weren’t sure we’d ever hear from him again. But here he is, back in the trenches, with more of his unique insider views…

Just six weeks ago I was sitting on a beach in Waikiki enjoying my hard-earned money when I got the inevitable email. “Hey man, you gotta come back over here. I have a skate (easy) job for you. And you won’t believe the pay!….”

And as much as I hoped I would never set foot in the Middle East again for as long as I lived, the pay was just too much to pass up. But this time I didn’t come over for PSD (bodyguard) work. This contract was just a training mission. It was to train Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi recruits in Mosul on force protection/base defense operations. It should have been an easy 90-day contract….

I lasted two weeks.

It was without a doubt the most frustrating experience of my life. The Iraqi recruits were the biggest “oxygen thieves” I’ve ever seen (an old military term). In the first class we had (their training course lasts 2 weeks), we didn’t graduate even one worthwhile troop. Not one.

It was obvious the Iraqi recruits didn’t care about their jobs. They just joined to collect the paycheck and hope that the insurgents wouldn’t hit them. I guess it’s no surprise every time Iraqi forces have been attacked, they either ran or surrendered.

Although I was hoping it was just one bad class and maybe the next one would be different, the other instructors assured me that was a typical class of recruits. But they didn’t care. They just went through the motions of training them and collected their paychecks from the U.S. government.

But for me, the frustration was just too much. I packed up my stuff, made some phone calls and caught the next helo to Baghdad. Then I took a job doing bodyguard work again. Since I’m already over here, I might as well work a couple months, make a little cash and make the whole experience worth my time, at least financially.

The funny thing was that as worthless as the Iraqis were who we trained, the Kurds were the complete opposite. They were great guys with great attitudes, hard-working, trustworthy. I could go on and on. I only wish it were possible to let the Kurds guard the whole country! It sort of reminded me of how the Ghurkas have been for the British forces. I believe the Kurds have the potential to be the same for the U.S.

Of course, I realize the importance of trying to get the Iraqi military and police forces spun-up and operational. And with the upcoming election, that need is greater than ever. But until Iraqi men actually care enough about the security of their own country enough to be willing to fight for it, I just can’t see much progress happening in the future. And just because there are lines around the corner at every police and military recruiting center, that doesn’t mean that those recruits are actually willing to serve and make sacrifices for their country.

And on a side note, we’re not really surprised about Mosul heating up. All the intel pointed to an operational shift in the insurgency once the Marines went into Fallujah in November. We expected them to relocate and regroup. Obviously, one of the places they chose was the Mosul/Tal Afar area. Surprisingly, Baghdad has been pretty quiet as far as the number of attacks on coalition forces recently.

I’ll let you know if I see anything interesting or maybe newsworthy over here. Although I’m hoping for a quiet couple of months. Take care.