Puppet Soldiers, Part 2 by mattsteinglass
January 29, 2007, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Iraq, Vietnam

In a miniature version of the troop increase that the United States hopes will secure the city, American soldiers and armored vehicles raced onto Haifa Street before dawn to dislodge Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who have been battling for a stretch of ragged slums and mostly abandoned high rises. But as the sun rose, many of the Iraqi Army units who were supposed to do the actual searches of the buildings did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own.

When the Iraqi units finally did show up, it was with the air of a class outing, cheering and laughing as the Americans blew locks off doors with shotguns….

…Many of the Iraqi units that showed up late never seemed to take the task seriously, searching haphazardly, breaking dishes and rifling through personal CD collections in the apartments. Eventually the Americans realized that the Iraqis were searching no more than half of the apartments; at one point the Iraqis completely disappeared, leaving the American unit working with them flabbergasted.

“Where did they go?” yelled Sgt. Jeri A. Gillett. Another soldier suggested, “I say we just let them go and we do this ourselves.”

— James Glanz and Damien Cave, “In a New Joint U.S.-Iraqi Patrol, the Americans Go First”, The New York Times, Jan. 25 2007

Nearly every adviser I spoke to agreed that the reasons that “our” Vietnamese did not yet fight as well as the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese could be summed up in two words: “leadership” and “motivation”.

It is difficult to find a single improvement in these areas since the Tet offensive supposedly led the Saigon Government “to realize that we weren’t going to win the war for it and finally pull up its socks,” to quote the official American cheering section, for whom patriotism and optimism have always been synonymous in Vietnam.

— Tom Buckley, “The ARVN Is Bigger and Better, But — “, The New York Times, Oct. 12 1969


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