Why are we in Iraq training an army we’ve trained for 11 years?

OBAMA  CHAGRINNED IRAQI ARMYIRAQI ARMYOur colleague asks this important question. Here is Prof. Arthur Lerman’s letter to the editor, BERGEN RECORD, NJ:

From: Lerman, Arthur
Thursday, June 26, 2014 2:33 PM
Subject: Your Views: Iraq Army Crumbling

To the Editor:

Regarding “For seasoned vets, a sense of sadness” (Opinion, June 23):

The writer, retired Army Major General, Robert H. Scales, finds that an important reason for the Iraqi “army…crumbling at first contact with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters” is insufficient training.  In spite of a training program dating back to 2003, U.S. officers still need “at least five more years and 25,000 trainers.”

My question is, how come the opposing army is doing so well without the eleven years of training that the Iraqi forces have already had?

Arthur J. Lerman

256 Edgemont Terrace

Teaneck, New Jersey 07666-3404



It is a valid point indeed. A great deal of money that could have been put to use in sorely needed areas  for US domestic needs has gone into the Iraqi conflict in general and the bolstering of the Iraqi army specifically. This alone merits all of the attention it is getting

Although the “ISIS” insurgent army is spreading out and hitting points that were supposed to be well protected by Iraqi forces taking quite a bit of territory, the best explanation I’ve heard for the underperformance of the Iraqis (and there are other but this seems to make some sense): for better or worse the Iraqi armies were trained for localized insurgencies and keeping areas secure in local areas. They have been well regarded in their work at that level.

A coordinated and widespread insurgency such as the current one, with considerable outside aid, is something more strategic, than tactical, and seems to have flummoxed the Iraqi forces by the suddenness and vigor of the uprising. The Iraqi forces did well at the company and brigade level after the U.S. withdrawal (and before), these actions focused of local policing.

We will keep track as the Obama administration goes forth with its plan for advisors and some equipment. An more analysis of how the formidable ISIS grew under the radar of US and Iraqi intelligence will be forthcoming. This is as much a failure of intelligence as it is one of the army itself.