A lot of people have asked me “What is the difference between working with the Iraqi Police, and working with the Iraqi Army?” I have to think a bit on that one most times. Now, normally, I would say things like, well, the army has a different job, and the training is not the same because the mission is different, blah blah blah. But what I would really like to say is this.
The difference between the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police is the Americans trying to teach them.
Now, some of you might not quite understand, and, of course, I will elaborate. But those of you who were there will understand right off the bat, and laugh along with me.
When we built the Army, we had a focused group of individuals that carved a goal and intent, and then worked to that. Things got hectic and crazy, but we never lost sight of the goal, we always were focused. Even during those craziest of days in the sweltering summer, we worked to teach and train the Iraqi Army to do what it was supposed to do. We didn’t just live with them and teach them, we in effect controlled them. We knew what we wanted to create, and we let them solve their own problems using the training that we provided. This would give then a solution generally in line with what we wanted or expected, and everything was good. We got what we wanted, and they learned the process of war fighting and decision making. I like to think of it as the West Coast Offense. They were efficient, fast and quick, but the bulk of the work was done in the classroom. I got to visit the Marines and soldiers of 1st IIF and I have to admit they pretty good. The focus and drive that we pushed, the solutions we developed, and the systems we created are still in place. Tweaked, prodded, and re-defined, but still the same. How do I know this? Because the key system I used to track vehicles and buildings is still tacked to the wall, with all the markings and more. It was as simple as I could make it, yet, a year+ later, it was still there.
Not only was our venture supported internally, I believe our intent was felt by others outside the immediate command. At various levels, people worked to achieve the goal of getting the army up and running, make it viable, armed, and ready. Not everybody shared the same timeline or method, but in the end, the goal was the same. I look back now and I am amazed at what we accomplished up and down the line. I see the Army fighting in parts of the country and I can’t tell you how excited I am for them, because that is exactly what we wanted them to do.
The Iraqi Police, on the other hand, were nearly forgotten and pushed aside while the Army received all the goods. As a result, the people working with them were hamstrung with little gear, no facilities, and a force filled with collaborators. From the outset, they were not controlled; they were tended, like sheep. The problem now is that the Iraqi police leaders have assumed the reins and I think are running amok. The advisor teams are providing advice and some training, but the Iraqi’s can choose not to listen to it. From the first day I got here, I started asking questions about simple things that even my simple mind could understand. (How do the police get dental care? What is the rule of law that guides the police commanders? How many times can a police officer be absent before he is fired?) The bottom line is that there are no answers, because those policies don’t exist. So, my question is WHAT THE HELL HAS BEEN GOING ON HERE?
I know there is a war going on, and I know that there are only so many hours in the day, but I wasn’t asking for the solution to creating anti-matter. If we haven’t answered the simple questions, I asked, what is the guidance or intent that we are operating on? What is the goal here? What do you want us to do with these guys? Where are the beds, pillows and blankets? How come my police don’t have good boots? Why is nobody contracted to fix the plumbing on the base? Where is the maintenance contract to fix the trucks? Could somebody find out why I can’t get gasoline?
But that’s not the biggest issue. The biggest difference I think is that we have no goal. There is no intent here, no end state. Because no guidance has been issued, we are all just tending the sheep. I can’t believe that an intent or end state has never been created, because that would be completely un-military. I think the people have just forgotten, because I haven’t heard it from anybody, including the commanders.
Where is the vision? Where is the dream? What are these people supposed to do for their country?
Where is the DUC?
Until we understand what we want these police to be capable of doing, they will always be what they are right now, a temporary band-aid. And, until we pull our heads out of our asses, the biggest problem the Iraqi police have right now, is us.