Half the Iraqi army is useless, and the other half needs work
By: John Hayward
Human Events Featured Story
General Martin Dempsey, U.S. military’s top-ranked officer, said he believes American ground forces could join Iraqi and Kurdish troops on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State. President Barack Obama has…
Since the beginning of this crisis, I’ve been highly skeptical of the three-way alliance President Obama apparently expects to topple ISIS for him. The Kurds are solid players, but they’re mostly on defense, protecting territory that is likely to become an independent nation. That nation will make a fine regional ally for the West, but it will not be well-liked by either of its “partners” in the three-way alliance: what remains of Iraq, and the busload of Syrian rebels who aren’t already allied with al-Qaeda or at peace with the Islamic State.
The Syrian front in this anti-ISIS effort is a point of particular concern. Well, let’s be blunt: what the White House is talking about is sheer fantasy. They might as well be announcing plans to hit the Islamic State from the north with a coalition of hobbits, elves, and dragons. Most of the Islamic State’s strength is in Syrian territory. The relatively small and ineffective segment of the Syrian rebellion that isn’t composed of outright terrorists and al-Qaeda subsidiaries is much more interested in throwing Bashar Assad out of Damascus than flinging themselves into battle against the caliphate, while Assad sits back with a bowl of popcorn and enjoys the show. In addition to its legendary low-tech savagery, ISIS is also thought to have chemical weapons taken from both Syrian and Iraqi WMD stockpiles (which our friends on the Left spent a decade claiming were non-existent – yet another thing they were wrong about.) There have been reports of ISIS using chemical weapons.
Convincing a small and not-terribly-fierce subset of the Syrian resistance to forget about the guy they were resisting and charge into that chlorine-laced meat grinder with Barack Obama, of all people, watching their backs is not going to be easy. This President’s fecklessness, his view of foreign policy as an annoying distraction, and his penchant for turning on U.S. allies – because pushing them around is easier than taking bold stands against barbarians – will all come back to haunt us, as we try to round up proxies for an operation where the President keeps loudly declaring we won’t be on the front lines, no matter what happens. What this “no boots on the ground” stuff is saying to prospective Syrian proxies is: We won’t be there to save you, if this all goes wrong. We’ll be your air force, but that’s it.
Likewise, the endless public arguments between Obama and his subordinates about whether we’re at war or not – they’re basically arguing with each other on-camera, while the world watches in slack-jawed amazement – sends this message: We’re not really serious about this. It’s all about U.S. politics and media spin. If things go bad and our poll numbers dip, we’ll hang you out to dry in a single news cycle.
With that in mind, I wonder if the cagier members of the Syrian resistance will be able to resist the temptation to get some of that American air power turned against Assad, perhaps with a false-flag attack or two. Or if Assad sees his erstwhile enemies bleeding themselves out in battle against each other, what’s to stop him from rolling in at the end of the bloodbath to mop up the resistance and declare victory in the Syrian civil war? What if the rest of the Syrian resistance decides America’s willing proxies against ISIS are a distraction from what they see as the more urgent business of knocking down Assad, and turn against the American-allied Syrians in the kind of scrum that can’t be easily broken up from 30,000 feet? There are so many ways the Syrian side of this triangle can go wrong.
Which brings us to Iraq, where things are not looking good at all. In fact, the Iraqi military in such bad shape that General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that American “boots on the ground” might just be in the picture after all… a burst of candor that will not endear him to the panicked White House.
In separate press conference, Dempsey also made remarks that have been widely reported as saying only half the Iraqi military is ready to fight. It’s actually much worse than that. What he said was that half the Iraqi military is almost completely useless against the Islamic State for sectarian reasons, and the other half needs work before it’s ready for heavy combat. From Fox News: