“Lt. Gen. David Petraeus speaks at Princeton ,” by TigerHawk, TigerHawk, 2 October 2005, http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2005/10/lt-gen-david-petraeus-speaks-at.html (from Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).
Former Commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command and NATO Training Mission, as well as first Free Iraq recipient of the Order of the Golden Palm, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus recently spoke at Princeton. This American soldier had the following to say about Iraq:
The central theme of his talk, which was supported by lots of data and supporting anecdotes, was that there are a lot of myths about Iraq that need to be dispelled. One such myth is the claim that NATO has not been involved — General Petraeus forcefully argued that it had been, particularly in the establishment of the military academy and training facilities, but that NATO’s participation had been substantially ignored by the press. Another myth is that “the Iraqi forces have no armor.” Coalition members from the former Communist bloc have contributed lots of armor compatible with legacy Iraqi experience, including 77 T-70 tanks from Hungary (“which are better than anything the Iraqis had under Saddam”). Iraqi tanks have been organized into an armored brigade which is responsible for securing the airport road (“Route Irish has been free of violence since the Iraqi armored brigade took it over”).
In General Petraeus’ conception, the Transition Command has five missions:
To “help Iraqis.” “We believed what TE Lawrence said: â€œDo not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them.â€
To “organize” the Iraqi military. The task of building a functioning military and special police force is extremely complex, and the Iraqis are doing it with Coalition and NATO guidance. Iraq is doing its own “recruiting and vetting.” We are helping them design the units, which includes the personnel and command structure of each unit from the platoon on up.
The organization of the training of the special Iraqi police had to be particularly original. We have “dramatically shifted” the police training from the Kosovo model. â€œIraq is not a 9mm pistol world, it is an AK47 world.â€
The most impressive thing about the Iraqi units is how tenacious they have become, notwithstanding early reports that they would cut and run. According to General Patraeus, since the January elections, from which the Iraqi security forces â€œtook an enormous lift that still persists,â€ the Iraqi forces “have not run from a fight, they have not backed down.” This strikes me, by the way, as enormously hopeful for the future of Iraq, the persistence of the counterinsurgency, and the power of democracy to motivate the fight against the war on terror.
More highlights from the Transition Command’s work:
Under NATO’s auspices, the Iraqi military academy is open with entirely Iraqi instructors. It might have been opened much earlier with foreign instructors, but the Coalition felt that it was important to make it an Iraqi endeavor. General Patraeus noted later that he was very unhappy that this achievement got essentially no coverage in the media given its importance to success in Iraq.
Short- Mid- and Long-Range plans for the future development of the military are in place and being executed, relating to force structure, training, institutions, equipment. This all being done in conjunction with Iraqis.
At any given time, there are more than 3000 Iraqis out of the country training, including 2000 at a police academy in Jordan, and another 200 at an elite training facility â€œin a neighboring country.â€ It was obvious that this neighboring country is classified, and we can assume that it isn’t Jordan, which he mentioned specifically. Assuming that it isn’t Syria or Iran, that leaves Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Since there would be no need to keep a facility in Kuwait secret and since it would be in Turkey’s external interest to be seen to be helping NATO (given its pending application to join the EU), my guess is that the secret training facility is in Saudi Arabia, which undoubtedly does not want to be caught collaborating with the United States to kill Sunni guerrillas.
It is good that America has such an well-spoken, intelligent officer corp. Read more.