US Military Training in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan: Ready. Aim. Misfire!

RomeThe United States military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train soldiers and fighters in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and in all cases, the programs were failures.

US military trainer and Iraqi soldier.

In 2014, the Iraqi army lost Mosul, the country’s second largest city in a matter of days. In Afghanistan, government troops are losing ground to the Taliban. In Syria, the Pentagon recently gave up trying to train so-called moderate militias as reports that some units were totally ineffective and others were funneling weapons to radical Islamic groups.

The Iraqi and Afghan military failures span the Bush and Obama administrations, while the Syria fiasco is all on Obama. Is it the fault of the teachers or the students or the mission itself?

In Syria, Obama acknowledged that the problem was that the American-favored militias, if interested in fighting at all, were more eager to battle the forces of President Bashar al-Assad than the Islamic State. And why not? For Sunni Muslim Syrians, Assad is the big enemy.

This problem goes back at least as far as the Vietnam War, and ought to lead to a rethinking of how, why and how much the US spends to train foreign troops that simply may not want to fight.

The flop in Syria.

In Iraq, a foolish idea from the beginning?

The fault is corruption and political ineptitude in Iraq.

Maybe the US is just not good at it.




Daniel Williams

Published by Daniel Williams

I am a former correspondent who, for more than 30 years, did time in China, Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and covered wars that went from episodic to non-stop. My book, "Forsaken," about Christian persecution in the Middle East came out January, 2016. NextWarNotes is a news and analysis blog designed to fill gaps, provide background and think about what’s next. The name of the site comes from a 1935 article by Ernest Hemingway in Esquire Magazine called “Notes on the Next War,” in which he predicted the coming conflagration in Europe, told why it would happen and warned Americans to stay out.

One Reply to “US Military Training in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan: Ready. Aim. Misfire!”

  1. Ironically, the one historical exception in terms of arming/training indigenous forces is Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Perhaps the lesson is that indigenous forces are more motivated to fight foreign invaders than local factions? Perhaps this also tends to explain why arming/training the Kurds appears to have been relatively successful compared to the other situations you mention. In any event, if Afghanistan in the 1990’s is the best possible result from successfully arming/training indigenous forces, it is indeed the “exception that proves the rule.”

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