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Getting it wrong and right in Iraq
September 20, 2003 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Wrong moves, right moves As the occupation of Iraq starts to look more like Lebanon, the Illinois contrasts the fallacious tragedy of forging a police force from infantry, and contrasts that with the MP's from the 223rd. The infantry is trained for full-scale war. Infantry soldiers are taught to meet any force, or any threat of force, with overwhelming counter-force. This mindset wins wars, as proved by the rapid defeat of the Iraqi military during the April invasion. But it poses a huge problem during post-war peacekeeping, as demonstrated in Fallujah on September 12--and in late April, when the infantry fired on a large crowd of unarmed protestors in Fallujah, killing 13. more inside...
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (7 comments total)

 
During the patrol, one of them told me that on a previous night an Iraqi teenager had aimed a red laser pointer at his face. "The infantry would have lit him up," said the MP. "I found him in three seconds." The teenager was immediately determined to be non-hostile, so he was given a stern warning and let go.

The differences between MPs and the "shoot first, ask questions later" infantry came up repeatedly during the all-night patrol. MPs, the soldiers said, are trained to clearly identify a threat before opening fire. And they are warned against firing back if it could injure innocent bystanders. The infantry, they claimed, is just not suited to the task of policing.

Late that night, the MPs were driving up the "wrong" side of a four-lane boulevard when a dark-colored van came speeding toward them from around a curve. The van's driver, perhaps blinded by the oncoming headlights, did not stop immediately, but slammed on his brakes shortly before slamming into one of the squad's two Hummers.

Tension was high during the split-second when it appeared a head-on collision was imminent. But the MPs calmly exited their vehicles, politely ordered the man out, gently frisked him, quickly searched his van, asked why he was out after the 11 p.m. curfew, and then sent him on his way with smiles on their faces.

Asked later what would have happened to the man if he had almost smashed into an infantry patrol, one of the MPs said the Iraqi probably would have been killed....

If you're looking for some good news in Iraq, the 233rd might just be it. The bad news is there aren't a lot of soldiers like them over here.

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2003


This means either one of two things: that the U.S. must train a peace-keeping force in addition to its regular troops... or that it must invite the U.N. to do the peace-keeping. Many people have already urged for option #2, but option #1 may not be a bad idea either
posted by gregb1007 at 12:25 PM on September 20, 2003


This means either one of two things: that the U.S. must train a peace-keeping force in addition to its regular troops... or that it must invite the U.N. to do the peace-keeping. Many people have already urged for option #2, but option #1 may not be a bad idea either

I don't how quickly or effectively number one could be done. And if Rumsfeld were in charge of the process, it may resemble his bid to create a lighter, stealthier force by simply broadening the definition of Special Forces.

It is promising that the police-trained troops are doing their jobs more effectively than the others. MAybe with an actual plan order could be attained.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2003


but, looking on the bright side, at least the tragedy is fallacious
posted by shoos at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2003


Are you saying that fighting a war in order to unearth nonexistent weapons is logical? That would be a neat trick.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:55 PM on September 20, 2003


only you or the Illinois can answer that one.
posted by shoos at 4:11 PM on September 21, 2003


Your desire to be my personal fucking editor has been noted.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:46 PM on September 22, 2003


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