After $1.6 Billion in US Military Aid, Iraq’s Army Struggles With Basics

Corruption Keeps Some US-Provided Arms Off the Front Lines

by Jason Ditz, June 10, 2016

$1.6 billion later, the US arms and training being thrown at Iraq to fight the ISIS war still isn’t amounting to much in practice, with Iraqi military officials reporting that a lot of the best gear the US is providing never gets to the front lines because of corruption.

According to the Washington Post, Col. Ihab al-Araji reported that he sought a US-supplied M1 Abrams tank for the offensive against Fallujah. He was told it would cost him $2,000 in bribes, and when he declined, he was given an aging Soviet tank out of storage instead. His driver has no idea how to operate it, so they didn’t use it.

When his troops failed to make progress, Col. Araji was shuffled to a different unit he was unfamiliar with, and almost immediately killed by an ISIS rocket attack. His family is blaming Iraq’s mismanagement of the military for his death.

His case is hardly unique, however, with US “advisers” reporting how ill-prepared many Iraqi units are during fights. One official described an Iraqi unit engaged in the offensive near Ramadi as suddenly just stopping. When asked about it, the commander reported the troops ran out of water for their overheated Humvees and couldn’t get them restarted.

US officials are trying to downplay the problems, insisting they’re just trying to get Iraq’s military “good enough” to win the war. Yet all indications are they are far from that goal, and US billions are having a very limited impact.

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