Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What We Have Here Is...Failure To Communicate

Video tape surfaced yesterday of a group of Iraqi Army recruits at a graduation ceremony. When they are told they are not going to be assigned to their home towns Anbar province, the hot spot of Sunni insurgents. They break ranks, begin shouting and a few tear off their uniforms.

The WAPO reports that:

Iraqi soldiers and local authorities said the problem that surfaced in Sunday's ceremony has not yet been solved. A mediator, Brig. Salah Khalil al-Ani, said the soldiers were angry because they believed they would be assigned to serve in their province and home towns according to an agreement worked out by tribal and religious leaders in Anbar with Defense Ministry officers.
But according to a spokesman for the Multi-National Military Transition Command:

But Negard said the soldiers knew what they were getting into when they enlisted. "They're recruited for national service, and they know this," he said. "They're prepared from the beginning to serve where the needs of the Iraqi army go."

"Diversity is good for the force," he said. "The bottom line is, when they're under fire and they're training, there are no signs of sectarianism."

The Post reports that the soldiers did not mutiny and after blowing off steam had a planned meal together and they agreed to a four day period of discussion with officers before they make a final decision to stay or leave the army.

All signs are that this is an isolated incident caused by a major disconnect between the expectations of the soldiers and the standing policy of the army. It wouldn't be the first time military recruiters let prospective recruits hear what they wanted to hear in order to meet recruitment target goals.

What is perhaps more upsetting is that those running this end-of-training ceremony invited cameras in and were blind-sided by the reaction of the soldiers. Is there no communication in the new Iraq Army? How about the US officers involved? Where they asleep at the switch? I guess this kind of thing is why words like SNAFU and FUBAR became standard parts of a soldiers' vocabulary.