Thursday, August 31, 2006

US Army Captain: Iraqi soldiers are like a bunch of kids


An Iraqi soldier is running across the street, an automatic weapon in one hand, firing blindly down the alley towards the enemy, apparently unaware of his fellow soldiers in the line of fire. “Somebody slap that f---er,” yells U.S. Army Capt. Josh Brandon. The Iraqi, grinning, safely reaches Brandon on the far side of the square. The captain isn’t smiling.

About 45 minutes into what would turn into a two-and-a-half-hour firefight with suspected terrorists in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiya, this is no time for the Iraqi troops to start playing cowboy. “A lot of their training comes from watching American movies,” he mutters.

Forty-five minutes, four enemy RPGs, two wounded Iraqi soldiers, and a handful of Brandon outbursts later, the mission is coming to a close. The Iraqi soldiers are making steady ground up the street, and have caught six suspected insurgents and killed four enemy combatants.

Most of the Iraqi soldiers are beaming with pride. But not U.S. Sgt. William Thomas Fraas. He points across the square to two Iraqi soldiers who are kicking a detainee in the rear as they lead him off towards their humvee. “I have to go over there and tell them to stop beating him up,” says Fraas. We’ve got to tell them what to do—they’re like a bunch of kids.” “That’s lucky,” says one American private. “The Iraqi Army usually kills them.”

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