Viewing conflicts through the eye of Counterinsurgency COIN – Since 2007
It is in fighting shape. The problem was its senior leadership. And again, it’s what happens when the United States disengages. If you look at it from former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s perspective, with Iraq’s history of military coups, his own coming of age as a member of a sectarian and persecuted political party, you are going to see an enemy behind every bush.
When he chose his commanders, he didn’t choose them on the basis of their leadership capability or their battlefield experience. It was loyalty. Could he be absolutely certain that they would never turn against him?
[Maliki] put individuals with no command ability [and who] were not a threat to him into command positions—when you look at what happened in June, it wasn’t the rank and file that broke first, it was the leadership. Division commanders suddenly decided they needed to be in Baghdad before they ever engaged with ISIS.
Iraqis have a strong military tradition. They’ve got good soldiers. They need good leadership. And clearly, the current government is aware of that. We’re in a position to help to get the right commanders in the right places, to serve their troops and their country well.
The Iraqi military is not rotten to the core. It was rotten at the top.