Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Perspective: U.S. pushes for on-the-job training of Iraqi forces

U.S. soldiers of the Bravo 2-17 field artillery 2nd Platoon and Iraqi army soldiers during a night raid in Baghdad last Sunday

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi patrol walked quickly through the dark and empty streets of Sadr City — too quickly for the soldiers to spot signs of trouble.

An American sergeant whistled for the patrol to stop. A few Arabic phrases, followed by hand gestures, and the patrol moved on — slower this time and with more care.

Scenes like this, played out last week during a night patrol in Sadr City, are occurring more often as U.S. troops mentor Iraqi forces — not on a training base or in the classroom but during real missions on the streets of Baghdad.

To do that, U.S. soldiers struggle with cultural divides, language problems and differences in training and equipment to make the joint effort work.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune