News about Infantry at StrategyPage.com's How to Make War.But month by month, more Iraqis were identified as effective officers and NCOs. Unfortunately, the few thousand men who filled the bill were spread thinly across a force of some 150,000 police and troops. What this meant, in early 2004, was that where was no Iraqi units that could be used for offensive operations. Meanwhile some foreign police advisors, and American division commanders, took matters into their own hands and collected small numbers of eager and capable Iraqis, and gave them commando or SWAT training. The main need here was for some combat capable Iraqis who could work with American troops in raids and, in particular, operations inside mosques. This worked, and soon the Iraqi Special Operations Force was established. The first battalion, the 36th Special Operations Commando battalion attracted applicants from all over Iraq. Some had served in Saddam’s commando units, but wanted nothing to do with joining the terrorists. Others were Kurds who had been trained by American Special Forces during the 1990s. By the end of 2004, the 36th battalion had 300 trained troops, and effective leadership. By this time, the Iraqi Special Operations Brigade was formed, and additional commando battalions were in training. The terrorists recognized this threat, and began using terror tactics on the families of commando troops. The answer to that was to build a base for the brigade, and their families.
For the police there was the similar Iraqi Security Forces Quick Response units. Basically SWAT teams, which gave police in heavily Sunni Arab areas some offensive forces. The SWAT teams could shoot it out with terrorist units and win. More importantly, the SWAT team commander learned how to outthink the terrorists.
The problem with commandos and SWAT teams is that you cannot create them in a few weeks. It takes careful selection of recruits, months of intense training, and then months on the job, often accompanied by American troops and Special Forces instructors, before the commando squads and platoons are able to operate on their own. But once the commando platoons and SWAT teams are trained, they are the terrorists worst nightmare. Moreover, they are very popular with American troops. The Iraqis are well versed in the same tactics American troops use, are reliable, and, of course, know the language and people. The usual drill is for American troops to go in and surround the area of the raid, secure entry and exit routes (clearing out roadside bombs and booby traps), and provide back up firepower. Then the Iraqis go in and execute the raid. Doing this is a lot easier with the American troops providing all the support and backup.
As more commando battalions and SWAT teams are formed, the rate of formation increases. That’s because Iraqi instructors are taken from existing battalions and teams. In another year, there will be several thousand Iraqis trained, or in training, for commando and SWAT operations. This is what will wipe out the terrorists. The Iraqi police can sort through the arrested a lot more quickly than can Americans, even Americans who speak Arabic. The terrorists also find it demoralizing when they are taken down by Iraqi troops or police. The terrorists recognize the threat, but now regard the Iraqi commando and SWAT operators as difficult targets, just as they do American troops. The result is that this year, you are going to see more battles between Iraqis and terrorists this year, battles the terrorists are going to usually lose.