Obama Admin Wants NATO to Rebuild Iraq's Military to Fight ISIS


Since American airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) have had little success, a growing chorus of officials says troops on the ground may be needed to fight this war. Whose troops, though? An exclusive report from Foreign Policy today suggests that the Obama administration wants the U.S. and its NATO allies to bear the burden of retraining Iraq's military to fight ISIS.

Citing information from "a person familiar with joint assessments by the American-led coalition and the Iraqi government," the publication explains:

The expanded retraining effort being proposed by the U.S. may require asmany as 1,000 foreign trainers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia to restore the beleaguered Iraqi security forces to a battle-ready state led by American advisers, said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made. The U.S. already has about 1,500 advisers in the country, and Western European allies have signalled their ability to send hundreds of trainers each, the person said. …

The U.S. is hoping that many of the NATO members will readily consent to sending their troops to train Iraqi forces particularly after troubling revelations that citizens from Western Europe and Australia are both victims and participants alongside ISIS.

It's important to remember that America is already the largest supplier of both military personnel and funding for NATO, so it's likely that the U.S. will be doing most of the heavy lifting in Iraq.

In a related article Foreign Policy yesterday reported that in spite of the State Department's claim that about 60 nations are participating in the coalition against ISIS, there are only 21 "core coalition members" and a meeting yesterday "produced no immediate announcements of new commitments."

It appears America's allies don't want to become too tangled in this war.  Although ISIS is closing in on the Syrian-Turkish border, Turkey, a NATO member, hasn't sent troops against ISIS out of fear of "being made the fall guy for the United States not having a coherent Syrian policy," according to Reuters.

Britain and France have launched airstrikes, and Germany has committed to funding moderate rebels to fight ISIS, but "getting their parliaments to approve sending ground troops into a warzone to train Iraqi forces is likely to be enormously complicated." 

Read more Reason coverage of ISIS here. One alternative idea suggested for fighting the terrorist organization is to use private military contractors. 

NEXT: IRS Employees Only Semi-Literate, Finds Audit

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I guess he hasn’t heard that NATO has been counting on the US for everything for awhile now.

  2. The U.S. is hoping that many of the NATO members will readily consent to sending their troops to train Iraqi forces


    wait…. not a joke?

  3. Well, I’m confident that whatever plan dear leader has is really going to work this time.

    Or… maybe he will find out that other countries really aren’t quite so anxious to get bogged into a forever war.

  4. Foreign Policy, or the party they’re quoting/paraphrasing, apparently doesn’t understand the difference between “training” and “morale.” The Iraqi units that fled from Mosul were probably trained reasonably well in military equipment and tactics. However, the Iraqi Army is predominantly Shiite and clearly has no will to risk their lives for control of Sunni territories.

    It’s not a training issue.

    It’s worth noting that Islamic State has not ventured into non-Sunni Arab areas (apart from small Yazidi and Kurdish enclaves), or at least not yet. They’re not stupid enough to think that their tactics would work in well-defended Shiite territories.

    1. I see…lines on the map…being redrawn.

    2. “”Why Arabs Lose Wars”

      Good piece = should have been subtitled, “and why We Should Never Trust Them”

      1. Yep. No NCO corps, “If Allah wills it” attitude towards maintenance, training, and even aiming, and absolutely no initiative from junior officers or enlisted.

        ISIS seems to have it’s own brand of discipline, some crude tactics that work, and intimidation. That’s enough in that part of the world.

        We already trained the Iraqi army – and they suck. May as well be the same guys who put their underwear on a stick and surrender to the first Americans they came across in ’91.

        1. One Arab country ever created a reasonably effective NCO corp; Egypt in the late 1960s under Nasser. And they damn near wiped Israel off the face of the earth. The only thing that stopped them, allegedly, is Israel gently reminding them that nuclear weapons can be quite effective if you are desperate enough to use them.

          1. They came apart like wet cardboard in ’67. In ’73 they did better with surprise and new weapons. The Israelis then did something the Egyptian army was incapable of while in the field – they changed tactics and adjusted.

            The Egyptians fought well in the defensive after the Israeli break-through across the Suez, but they didn’t really have a chance.

            1. The reason they did better in 73 was because they managed to create a reasonably effective NCO corps where before they had none.

              The Arab Israeli wars are such a great study in how mass doesn’t mean shit without leadership and doctrine. The Israelis were good but they were not super men. They only defeated such larger Arab forces because the Arabs were just that bad. Their mass couldn’t save them.

              1. A couple gazillion tanks pouring over the Golan didn’t hurt either. Eventually even shitheads can win, if they outnumber the pros by 30 to 1. The initial crossing of Suez by the Egyptians, and cracking the Bar-Lev Line, was really well done though. Not a good idea to out race their SAM cover though.

                I wonder what exactly the Soviets would have done about it if Israel decided to lob a few 5 and 10kT bombs at the Golan and Sinai spearheads?

                1. The Soviets wouldn’t have done a damn thing and neither would have the US.

              2. Lion’s Gate, about the ’67 war, is really interesting.

                If nothing else, about how small and cohesive Israeli society and the military were, and how that enabled them to win a fast war of impact and maneuver.

                1. Read Mitla Pass sometime. The Israeli paratroopers were fucking awesome.

    3. Also, the IA continued their nonsense of recruiting and stationing units, territorially – same flop as the opening round in Basra 2008, when I got to see this first hand…
      “Guard this crossroads or go into town and defend the home and family or get them and run…Hmmm, that is a toughie!”
      *ditches uniform, walks home*

    4. It’s not a training issue.

      Yes and no. One of the main purposes of training isn’t just how to use the gear, etc.

      Its to build intangibles like unit cohesion, obedience to chain of command, and individual balls.

      Sound like the intangibles of training weren’t accomplished.

  5. Yes, NATO has done such a good job doing this in Afganistan.

  6. So instead of the US military giving weapons to the Iraqi army so they can drop them for ISIS, we’ll “give” weapons to NATO so they can give them to the Iraqi army to drop for ISIS. By God its brilliant, what could possibly go wrong?

    1. By adding more parties to ISIS’s weapons acquisition system, we increase opportunities for graft and corruption.

      So there’s that.

  7. OT: Breaking on CNBC: all 2014 market gains officially lost.

    And it’s all because of ebola, not because the Fed owns $4.4 trillion of the US economy.

    1. LOL, you can just see another round of QE around the corner.

      1. Yarp. 15 days… 15 days.

    2. I blame Bush

    3. all 2014 market gains officially lost.

      I’m eager to hear Plug’s take on this. He has been the evangelist for the “stock market is good, economy is good, Obama is a successful President because the market is up” line.

      Spin it for us, Plugs!

    1. Despite Ron Baily’s assurances that the Top Men have a handle on this, I am starting to get a little worried.

      1. I think the US can handle it fine. But I do think that’s its more virulent than initially let on in that people who are in any proximity to Ebola cases seem to have a high chance of contracting it.

        So a mask with Hurricane Spray may not cut it. It may require full Hazmat for healthcare workers to treat the infected.

        And I suspect that we’ll see several more cases because SOMEONE surely came in contact with these patients.

        Although I have no doubt there’s some science in how far into the infection a person is, yadda yadda which will affect how infectious the patient is.

        1. So a mask with Hurricane Spray may not cut it. It may require full Hazmat for healthcare workers to treat the infected.

          Do you know how much that costs? And do you know the kinds of permits you need to dispose of Ebola infected waste?

          If we get more than a few thousand of these cases our entire health care system will shut down.

          1. Wouldn’t we just build a dome over Dallas?

            Think of the jobs created. And the FED could fund it while claiming they stopped QE in October.

          2. This. By my back of the envelope calcs, assuming 20 or so caregivers at the end of Patient One’s life, the caregiver’s got a 10% chance of catching the bug under the current protocols. Do you feel lucky, nurse?

            Not to mention they pretty much had to shut down the ER at Presbyterian for awhile and took up one of their two big ICU wards to handle this case. I’m sure that didn’t cost anything at all, or screw up Dallas’s ability to handle other emergency cases.

            A few tens of confirmed cases—and let’s not even think about flu season—is going shove the American Healthcare system into the poor house.

            1. A few tens of confirmed cases—and let’s not even think about flu season—is going shove the American Healthcare system into the poor house.

              To be fair, as a former employee in the healthcare system who got outsourced to india, it’s not exactly on easy street right now.

            2. A few tens of confirmed cases—and let’s not even think about flu season—is going shove the American Healthcare system into the poor house.

              ^This, but worse. There will be many mistakes made by the “authorities,” many false alarms, a real or hoax terror Ebola attack, and some real panic. We are totally not equipped to deal with this, and continue our insane policy of not banning people from Ebola epidemic zones from coming here (or at least quarantining them). We will regret that.

              My only consolation is that all this makes the point better than any article or campaign ad ever could: Obama is incompetent, his central goal is not the protection of the US and its citizens, and the government is not something that you should give more power and money.

              1. Obama, like most modern progressives see the protection of the government and its turf as synonymous with the protection of the U.S. and its citizens.

                I really believe that progressives feel that if most of the country was wiped out and in smoldering ashes, as long as Washington remained intact, that would be considered a success.

                1. As long as our Top Men can get access to the mineshafts with 10 women each we’ll be OK.

                2. I think that’s part of it, Paul, but part is also a sort of “world citizen” view that the US is too rich and too powerful. We’re just another country, no better than others, and in fact worse because of slavery etc. I really think that some progressives think it’s not “fair” that Africa has Ebola and we don’t.

          3. The entire economy will shut down. People will just stay home and wait for it to end.

            1. I have several hundred rounds of ammunition in various calibers. Bring it on.

              1. What caliber for a virus?

                1. I don’t think they know yet, which is the problem.

                2. Wait a minute, I have an answer for that. .308! Because you can shoot the infected long before they get close to you!

                  1. Yes Paul. Don’t fuck around with some pimp gun that shoots pistol ammunition, I don’t care how fast it shoots. Go for the full long rifle and reach out and touch the infected before they tough you.

                    1. Don’t fuck around with some pimp gun that shoots pistol ammunition, I don’t care how fast it shoots.

                      I know, which is the one thing I don’t have. My friend has a ridiculous 308 with a scope which cost as much as the rifle. Looks like I’ll be moving in with him.

                  2. I need some more .30-06 ammo.

                3. .100. % by volume NaClO3 that is.

                  Or whatever the pore size in N100 respirators are.

                  1. Arg! Let’s remove the % from the above, because I don’t think 0.1 % bleach is going to do shit to Ebola. Unless you wait for a month or something.

                  2. .100. % by volume NaClO3 that is.

                    Or whatever the pore size in N100 respirators are.

                    I’m glad you said that, because I was going to suggest that until I came up with my simpler solution.

                    And plus I’d have to google how many microns the virus was, blah blah.

            2. Everyone still laughing at the preppers?

              1. Everyone still laughing at the preppers?

                Just like the market, they’ll get laughed at if Ebola peters out like so many other health scares.

                But we’ll be knocking on their door if it doesn’t.

              2. Everyone still laughing at the preppers?

                At our peril, we only laugh at the preppers that don’t have government prepping jobs.



        *cough cough*


        Excuse me… I’m not feeling so good…

      3. These people couldn’t build a damn website with six years and millions of dollars. They are utterly incompetent, in no small part because of cronyism and political favors(what qualifications does the douche in charge of the CDC have relevant to his job?) Somehow, that doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

        1. Every decision they make is determined by politics not reality. So they didn’t ban travel to the infected area because it would be mean and discriminatory. Now they won’t take drastic steps to stop it because doing so would require admitting they fucked up and that would hurt them politically. So they are going to do nothing and hope it goes away.

          1. “…hope it goes away.”

            *scratches head*

            I wonder how that will turn out?

            1. Based on my own personal experience, it never works and is always much worse than admitting you fucked up and fixing the problem.

              1. BAd news never gets better with age.

        2. What fills me with confidence is the individual hospitals which may institute their own protocols for dealing with the disease. Protocols which will be better than what a healthcare Czar trying to hold on to her job will suggest.

          1. …individual hospitals which may institute their own protocols for dealing with the disease.

            Eventually that leads to not taking patients on Medicaid, Medicare, or Obamacare.

    2. CNN reporting that the second nurse traveled from Cleveland via commercial airline while having a fever.

      Not good.

      1. How fucking stupid are people? Gee I think I might have been exposed to Ebola. Maybe taking that flight isn’t such a good idea. No way man, that ticket is non refundable.

        That nurse is too fucking stupid to live.

        1. And now we will spend another $500,000 to try to save her life.

  8. The US military spent 8 years and thousands of lives and about $900 billion trying to teach these assholes to defend themselves and have apparently completely failed to do so. Now Obama thinks NATO, an organization made up of countries who haven’t been able to defend themselves in 30 years is going to accomplish this on the cheap.

    Ah, I think this might not be the best strategy.

    1. Though why we haven’t armed the Peshmerga the way O wants to do to the regular Iraqi Army, is beyond me. That arming them would piss off our now non-secular Islamist ally, Turkey, would be a bonus. From everyone who’s been over there that I’ve talked to, the Pesh were the only group worth even half a shit in a fight. Naturally, they’re the group O’s chosen to fuck them over.

      I don’t think the Iraqis would be worth anything even if they were defending Shia strongholds. The people I’ve talked to who worked with the Iraqi Army said that they were unwilling to perform even the simplest infantry tasks, unless you watched them like a hawk.

      1. We haven’t done that because the Turks would go insane and Obama desperately wants to establish strong and lasting ties with the Iranians, who would also not like it.

        1. Fuck Turkey and fuck Iran. Arm the Kurds.

          1. My thoughts exactly.

      2. GG, some units were OK – 1st RRF, etc. Most, just doin’ time, when is jezza, etc? Politics meant they were f’ing with their officer mix by political and religious affiliation too. Kind of a bloodless Stalin 1937.

      3. My unit handled many Iraqi prisoners in ’91. Besides being the shittiest soldiers I’ve ever seen, they were afraid of their officers even after we separated them.

        When we brought in a group of Special Republican Guard officers – holy crap – the Iraqi enlisted looked at them like a pack of live T-Rex.

        So apparently terror of officers is the only thing to motivates these shitbirds. Unless our trainers are ready to shoot a couple of slackers a week, we aren’t going t accomplish shit.

    2. NATO, an organization made up of countries who haven’t been able to defend themselves in 30 years is going to accomplish this on the cheap.

      I think you can go all the way back to 1938. By my count, almost every European member of NATO was conquered by somebody during WWII.

  9. Every failure is a lack of proper training and sufficient funding. I’m sure that they will get it right this time.

    1. It worked for the public schools didn’t it?

  10. Although ISIS is closing in on the Syrian-Turkish border, Turkey, a NATO member, hasn’t sent troops against ISIS out of fear of “being made the fall guy for the United States not having a coherent Syrian policy,” according to Reuters.

    I am literally astounded at all the calls from the sidelines that Turkey should actually invade another nation in order to fight ISIS in the field. There was a piece on NPR this morning that was almost accusatory over their lack of invading another country. That crazy Turkey, not throwing its military into a war in its own backyard. How gauche of them!

    How would these same people react if Iran invaded Iraq to confront ISIS. Or Israel, for goodness sake?

    I expect the whole thing will handle itself. ISIS appears to be goading the US and Europe into battle. I can only assume they will invade Turkey, giving Turkey a reason to chase them back into Syria while also invoking Article 5 of NATO.

    1. It is especially ironic when you consider that Isis is currently slaughtering the Kurds, who have been engaged in a civil war against Turkey for about thirty years.

      What the hell is wrong with the Turks? Why don’t they invade another country and save their enemies?

      1. The parallels between the Soviets watching the Jews get slaughtered during the Warsaw Uprising and the Turks watching the Kurds get slaughtered in Kobani are precise, and sickening.

        That said, I can see the argument for the Turks sitting nice and quiet on their side of the border, regardless of what’s going on just over the border.

        1. My last paragraph was sarcasm.

        2. The parallels are not at all precise.

          Most importantly, the Soviets had already invaded Poland. Turkey right now can’t do anything without violating the sovereignty of Syria, with all that that entails. That is the greatest barrier to their acting now. It is thankfully a very tall barrier.

          Also importantly, Turkey has already let tens of thousands of refugees from Kobani in. They are in no way complicit in any slaughter.

    2. Turkey just doesn’t want attack ISIS because it fears an independent Kurdistan.

      1. And with good reason. If it were up to me, I would tell the Turks and the whole lot of them to go fuck themselves and give the Kurds their own state and then arm the living shit out of them and let the Kurds make the Arabs and Iranians pine for the days when their worst enemy was Israel.

        1. I guess it pays for me to read further down. If the new Kurdistan (Kurdlahoma?) could attach it’s own little Polish Corridor to the sea out of bits of Syria, even better.

          1. Here is what I think is going to happen. Iraq is hopeless. They are total fuck ups more interested in stealing than defending themselves. Obama isn’t going to do anything to save them and ISIS is going to end up ruling most of a Iraq and Syria. They will then use that as a base to hit both the US and Europe very hard with terrorist attacks. At that point, the West will have had enough and will just go in and wipe them off the face of the earth. No nation building, no winning of hearts and minds, just murder.

            I don’t see how this ends any other way. The ISIS people are just nuts and are not going to quit. And no matter how pathetic and decadent the West is, they are not going to just roll over and die for these assholes.

            The tragedy of Iraq is not America’s tragedy. The tragedy is that it was the last time the West will ever deal with the Arab world in any kind of humanitarian way and the Arabs fucked it up. The next time we go back to Iraq it is going to be to kill them not convert them or help them.

            1. Or, as the War Nerd put it awhile ago, “The Raid commercial on a larger scale.

              I don’t think whoever’s calling the shots for ISIS will countenance a serious attempt by them at a mass casualty event in the States. As I said earlier, it’d provoke a Biblical response from the U.S, and they can’t seriously want that. The thing is, I don’t know how much control their shotcallers have over their people, or even whether all of their leaders are on the same page. The more toys ISIS finds laying around—sarin canisters, bioreactor full of anthrax spores; god forbid, nuclear material or a primitive nuke—the more likely it is that a splinter group from them will get a wild hair up their ass and take their propaganda literally.

              I don’t know and can’t guess what happens after that.

            2. The Islamists (and Russians and Chinese and everyone else who isn’t our friend) know they have a two-plus year window to grab whatever they can, because the US will not mount any kind of meaningful response under Obama.

              Depends on how loony ISIS really is, whether they try to hit the US while Obama is still in office. They know they can’t ever count on having a weaker President than him, so its got to be very tempting.

              1. That is the thing RC, even a President as pathetic as Obama can be pushed too far. This is what the Reason peaceniks never understand. A weak President creates a much greater risk of the US getting into a big war than a belligerent one.

                Wars generally happen because one side or the other miscalculates and does something mistakenly thinking the other side won’t respond. Weakness is generally was causes miscalculations not strength.

      2. While they don’t want an independent Kurdistan, I don’t doubt their humanitarian impulses. I’m sure if they could wish ISIS away, they would.

        I am just shocked that after all the bumbling that every western power has accomplished in the region in this millennium, people think Turkey should go ahead and have a shot. What could go wrong?

  11. REbuild? 700 billion bucks doesn’t buy you what it used to, does it?

    1. You can’t save people who don’t want to be saved or don’t care enough to save themselves.

  12. Behold the power and might of the Iraqi Army:

    …during the Gulf war when a severe windstorm blew down the tents of Iraqi officer prisoners of war. For three days they stayed in the wind and rain rather than be observed by enlisted prisoners in a nearby camp working with their hands.

  13. Obviously a secret Muslim plot to hand over more weapons to the Islamic State.

    Why smuggle them when you can just give them to the Iraqi Army?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.