Can the US Build a New Iraqi Army?
The New York Times looks at the disrepair of the Iraqi military as American soldiers return to the country where they spent years trying to establish a working army.
“Iraq’s army looked good on paper when the Americans left, after one of the biggest training missions carried out under wartime conditions. But after that, senior Iraqi officers began buying their own commissions, paying for them out of the supply, food and payroll money of their troops. Corruption ran up and down the ranks; desertion was rife.”
“The army did little more than staff checkpoints. Then, last year, four divisions collapsed overnight in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq under the determined assault of Islamic State fighters numbering in the hundreds or at most the low thousands… An army that once counted 280,000 active-duty personnel, one of the largest in the world, is now believed by some experts to have as few as four to seven fully active divisions — as little as 50,000 troops by some estimates.”