Are Iraqis Slow Learners?

by James Glaser
January 15, 2007

I was in Marine Corps Boot Camp for 12 weeks and wouldn't you know it, after my Platoon graduated, Boot Camp was cut to just 8 weeks. They needed warm bodies to send to Vietnam, so they accelerated the training program.

After Boot Camp I had another month of ITR (Infantry Training Regiment) where we learned a bit more about how an infantry unit works in the field. After that we were sent to out first duty station. We were trained Marines, at least that is what they told us, and a lot of guys were shipped out to West-Pac. You got an order for West-Pac, and you were going to the Nam.

George Bush started his war in Iraq on March 19th, 2003 and he had his "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 1st, 2003. So in theory we have had three and a half years to get Iraqi troops ready to take over from our troops.

Yes, I know we were not ready for anything that first year of the war. We stood by as Iraqi citizens looted anything of value from their government. We also stood by and let the insurgents plunder all the weapons and munitions that Saddam had stockpiled around the country. Those weapons could be put to use now by the new Iraqi Army.

That first year in Iraq we had no idea of what we were doing. The White House was waiting for the Iraqis to have the parade where they would throw flowers at the feet of their American liberators, and our troops were running around the country looking for those non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The no-bid American contractors were spending money like it was water, and Saddam was living in a hole in the ground.

So, let's give George that first year of chaos to get things straight, but that still leaves us with over two and a half years to train up the Iraqi Army. If we just had one training center, we should have had 15 graduating classes already, and as time went on, you would think they would add other training centers. Heck, we have built approximately 14 totally operational military bases in Iraq so far, and if each those bases had a training facility for the Iraqi army, we should be able to graduate 80 or more classes a year.

I would also think if the rule of thumb is that American Troops can stand down when Iraqi troops stand up, we would have maybe fifty or more training centers set up by now, and that could mean 300+ graduating classes each year.

Remember we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq. That is hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars. Yes, I know it is hard to figure out those sums, but think of it this way. We are spending about 2 billion a week in Iraq. That would be 2,000 million dollars a week or 285.7 million a day. Let's make it easy. . . . we are spending close to 12 million dollars ever hour of every day we are in Iraq. With that much money we should have been able to open at least a thousand training centers in Iraq to train their troops. A thousand training centers wouldn't even cost what we are spending every few hours.

According to George Bush, the only thing keeping us in Iraq now is the fact that the Iraqis can't protect their own country. Training that new army should be job #1 for the American troops. If we could train United States Marines, and make them battle ready in twelve weeks, what the heck is the hold up in Iraq?

I don't know, but maybe the Iraqis are just slow learners, and it takes a lot longer to train them, but how long? Does it take six months, a year, two years? Nobody is talking. George Bush never explains how long Iraqi boot camp is. Nobody in the Pentagon is talking about the training the Iraqis get. We don't know.

However, if we can turn a young American into cannon fodder in a matter of weeks and send them off to die so that Iraqis can be free, then by golly the Iraqis can stand up for themselves with the same amount of training. And you know what, they have the perfect place to grab some on-the-job training if they need it. After all it is their country.

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