Reed Russell is a colleague at my day job. A gifted lawyer, Reed left his law practice (along with his wife and two very small boys) when he was called up for duty in Iraq in mid-2005. He served for about a year training Iraqi policemen, first in Ramadi and then in Baghdad.
Reed likes to say that he was pessimistic about Iraq before he went there and also now that he’s back, but was relatively optimisitc while he was there. That’s his tribute to our MSM, which he never encountered while in Ramadi except once when an election was taking place. He did meet Oliver North there, however.
Reed also says that when he talked to American colleagues who were, like him, involved in training Iraqi police forces, they usually said the same thing: the Iraqi police are awful except for their particular unit which isn’t bad at all.
I asked Reed what he thinks about the surge. He’s concerned that “it’s too late for the U.S. to do much more street fighting.” In other words, Americans here at home have lost their stomach for the war, and the insurgents, sensing that they need only withstand this final push, may well be able to blow up enough people, including U.S. forces, that the president will lose the support he needs to sustain the surge. On the other hand, Reed disputes the notion that, even if we succeed initially with “clear and hold,” the insurgents and sectarian militias will return once our forces pull out. He believes that if the Iraqi police gets a foothold, along with the confidence that would come with it, it may be difficult for the bad guys to make a comeback.
His bottom line on the Iraqi police forces is this:
It is not that complicated to clear neighborhoods, run checkpoints, or do good community policing, and the Iraqis can do it on their own with some back up from us. . . To the extent the Iraqis fail to stop the violence primarily using their own forces to clear neighborhoods and catch bad guys, it’s because they lack a sufficient interest in doing so, not because they can’t.