Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Perspective: Joint missions tricky affairs in Iraq

Capt. Josh Taylor meets with Iraqi National Police Lt. Col. Mahmoud before a joint foot patrol with the Iraqi Army and Iraqi National Police today in Sadr City

BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. soldiers paced around their new outpost in Sadr City, checking their watches, drinking coffee and waiting for their Iraqi partners.

They finally rolled up more than two hours late.

It was supposed to be a seamless display of Iraqi and American cooperation in the urban fiefdom of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia. What it became, however, was a wrangle of competing commanders, bruised egos and conflicting priorities.

The troubles in launching just one joint mission late Tuesday pointed to the larger — and long-term — challenges of trying to mesh battle-hardened U.S. forces with untested Iraqi recruits as Baghdad's 3-week-old security crackdown tries to hold the ground it's reclaimed.

"If we get out of here by midnight, I'll call this a success," whispered Capt. Josh Taylor, 28, of Florence, Ala., a company commander from the Army's 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment.

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle