Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Training the Iraqis

The Army War College quarterly Parameters Winter 2006-7 edition is now available online. It's one of my favorite magazines. Really. This issue includes an essay on training Iraqi soldiers and police, evidently written before Bush's announcement that he's implementing the McCain escalation plan: The Limits of Training in Iraqi Force Development by Capt. Gary Felicetti. As he describes at some lenght using management theory, training can only improve performance if other factors such as loyaly and motivation are sufficient. He doesn't seem to think that will be a quick process in Iraq:

Over time, these new institutions and behaviors might eventually change values. These values eventually might become part of the professional culture, helping members of the security forces to see themselves as guardians of the state and all the Iraqi people. It is a very ambitious goal. Yet even long-standing critics think the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq [2005] can still work, notwithstanding skepticism over any nation-building effort. It remains unclear, however, if the Iraqis are willing or able to reinvent their security forces and society. Moreover, advisors on the ground know that this process “can take decades” and “is a generational goal.” Another American commander put it this way:

"We’ve had a tremendous impact shaping behavior, and I think that we’re making strides toward changing values. But the fact is most of the people in this country [Iraq] have learned and operate the way they do based on 35 years of experience. . . . Right now we’re shaping behavior, we’re starting to affect values, but changing values is going to take a long time." (my emphasis)

One gripe: he uses Robert E. Lee as an historical example but he has obviously been taken in by a neo-Confederate view of Lee's decision to betray the country and back secession.  It doesn't affect his main argument, but it's irritating, and inaccurate.


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