Yeah! What she says!

Yeah! What she says!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Future Of Iraq

I was reading an article at Operation Iraqi Freedom, which is the official site of the Multi-National Force in Iraq. This article caught my attention, and I couldn't let it go by with out a mention. The article is titled, Diversity is strength for new Iraqi Army, and you can read the full text here.

What caught my attention, was that the article opens with this:

The strength of any democracy is the equal representation of various cultural interests; thus, the power of a military force can be measured by diversity as well. American culture takes pride in boasting equal opportunity in public service roles.

Iraqi culture mirrors this attitude, and the warriors of the Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division – currently conducting a force integration with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines – are a simple, flawless example of strength in diversity.

The reason this caught my attention was that I have heard all of the same reports that the rest of you have. The Sunnis and fighting the Shiite. I even had the same fears that most of you have. They just can't get along, so this is never going to work. What is surprising to me, is that there are some that have made it work, and many that are willing to try. This is a step in the right direction.

How can this happen? How did this change begin to come about? The same reason Americans are able to do the same thing. We may be from different backgrounds and religions, but we have one thing in common, and that is being American. The Iraqi's are learning that they can be Sunni and Shiite and still be Iraqi. They are learning that they have common goals in the grand scheme of things. Did you think that the Iraqis wouldn't notice that our military is made up of men and women from every walk of life, from all different religions, for all different heritages and still manage to get along? It seems that a number of them have noticed, and started taking notes.

Now, none of this is to say that the current secretarian violence is going to go away over night, as racial hatred didn't abate here over night either. This is going in the right direction though. And guess how some are accomplishing this? The same way Americans do in the work place or in social situations. What two topics do people swear they don't talk about most often? Politics and religion right? Those are the two they will start a debate or a fight any day of the week. Here is a quote from the article that I liked a great deal.

Speaking from an office at Combat Outpost Golden in Al Anbar Province here, Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jassimi, 1st battalion commanding officer, explained the cultural representation within his unit.

“My staff is Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish. We have officers from many different areas of Iraq; Mosul, Baghdad, Ramadi – and we’re all here working together,” he said. “There are many people around the world who would think this would be a problem. We are a perfect example that it is not.”

Jassimi, a native of southern Iraq, said there is a preconceived notion in some global media circles that various sectarian issues create problems within the new Iraqi Army. To combat this, he said, he avoids prejudice by ignoring religious preference altogether.

“When I get a new officer, I do not ask him if he is Shiite or Sunni. I don’t care,” he said.

The article is amazing in my opinion. It gives me hope. The article goes on that state that during field operations, if any one needed help, the all helped. The question of religious faction, or tribe never came into it. If they went into an Sunni or Shiite mosque they all prayed despite whether they were Sunni or Shiite. I am proud to say that our guys are leading by example, and the I am proud of any Iraqi who learns these important life lessons.

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Woody Hesser, Military Transition Team commander, said within the MTT, the ethos of “one team, one fight” is clearly evident during joint operations. Hesser and his team have shadowed 1st Battalion since January, and he says with each patrol a shared interest in Iraqi security is obvious.

“We’re here fighting a war, and when we go on patrol, it’s one fight. There have never been any sectarian issues,” Hesser said. “Really, it’s almost like another Marine unit taking over, but it’s not about Marines and Iraqis, it’s about good guys versus bad guys.”

That, my friends, is the truth when looking at any country and its citizens.

On closing, I leave you with this, one last quote from the article that speaks volumes and attests to the ability to be different and co-exist, all at the same time.

“I’m from the north and I’m a Sunni,” began Iraqi Army Maj. Istabraq Ashawani. “That man over there,” he gestured, “is a Shiite. That man over there is Kurdish … everyone in this battalion is a family. We eat together, sleep together and pray together. Anything you hear on the news about us being different is not true,” he exclaimed. “Ask any Juundi or officer … we’re all the same.”


Paul Champagne said...

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The key to successful integration of any military unit is the leadership. Seems that the Iraqis are finally getting some good leaders in place.

Debbie said...

Very nice article. Yes, it does give us hope. It shows they CAN get along if they really try, if they really have the incentive, the motivation.

In this case, the motivation was -- they got tired of the violence. What a concept. Would that the rest of the country would get tired of the violence and take action also.

We can only hope and pray.