Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Training For War

Iraqi soldiers are just starting to get the tools and skills to defend their country from foreign invasion. Until recently, light infantry skills were needed to fight a counter-insurgency campaign. The 155mm artillery is new to Iraq:

The soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Division gawked, posed for pictures, rubbed their hands on it, and then stood in crisp form when U.S. soldiers introduced them this week to their newest weapon.

There, in a two-story warehouse on the grounds of an old Iraqi ammunition storage site. stood a confidence-builder for the beleaguered Iraqi army, an M198 Howitzer cannon. For Iraqi soldiers yearning to just be respected, never mind feared, the arrival of American-made artillery was a big step toward gaining an essential quality of any effective army: pride.

This is a weapon for an army as opposed to a para-military force.

But just giving them a weapon is not enough. We need to train them. Iraq used to have lots of big guns, but they might as well have not bothered to show up on the battlefield in 2003 for all the good they did:

One important lesson for the Iraqi Army, according to Garcia and Brewster, is that a well-trained soldier using a M198 Howitzer will be far more effective than Hussein’s army was in its use of artillery. ...

“We would see a round go off far away,” recalled Brewster, who took part in artillery battles with Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion, “Then they would readjust and it would go off even farther away. We would counter fire once, and then hear no more.”

The artillery, if accurate, will be useful both to provide local fire support in a still-lingering counter-terrorist campaign against al Qaeda and Baathist remnants (and against that scumbag Moqtada al-Sadr, if he tries for a fourth insurrection) and against conventional invaders.

Luckily for Iraq, Syria is in no condition to invade and Iran is weak enough in conventional strength that even a modest American presence in Iraq would likely deter them until the Iraqis can stand on their own. Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to want a chunk of Iraq these days.

UPDATE: The T-50 is a reasonable transition aircraft, capable of preparing pilots for high performance fighters and also useful as a light attack aircraft (from my Jane's email updates):

South Korean defence officials have indicated that they are prepared to accept an offer from Iraq to purchase the advanced jet trainer (AJT) through the countertrade of crude oil.

All this takes time, however.