Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fostering Change

Before giving up on Iraq's army because a number of units collapsed in the north after our absence for 2-1/2 years, consider that after more than 60 years of working with the South Korean army, Japanese colonial practices continue to plague the South Korean army.

South Korea's army is still trying to learn modern ways:

South Korea has long been known for the brutality junior soldiers and marines had to deal with. As any South Korean veteran, and many American troops who have served in South Korea, can tell you; there's a lot of anger and violence in the South Korean military, especially among the lower ranks and in the barracks. Most of this is in the form of NCOs disciplining their subordinates. For over half a century, this situation was generally not publicized or talked about much. But in the last decade that has been changing. ...

The South Korean military traditions were largely inherited from the Japanese, who, before World War II, had a rather brutal attitude about how soldiers were handled. During World War II, many Koreans were allowed to join the Japanese army as support troops, and were subjected to the brutal Japanese discipline.

And this change is taking place slowly despite the fact that South Korean troops were directly attached to American units where they could see our practices in stark contrast to their own army's brutality.

So don't speak to me of how futile it is to train Iraqis to fight our enemies. We trained them. But too many seem to think that training an army (or any service) is something you do once and it just lasts.

Training is fragile as new troops without training enter the service while trained soldiers leave the service. Even good soldiers who stay can give up and succumb to laziness or corruption or bad habits--or just suffer from bad leadership and poor logistics. Training must be continuous or it fades away and is lost.

This is one reason I wanted to stay in some strength in Iraq after 2011.