Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Dreaded 36th!

Whilst we're in Iraq mode (is this blog ever in anything else? How will it ever return to civil life? Will it end up begging for hits by the roadside with a sign - Iraq Veteran, Please Give Generously Of Your Attention?), yet another of those reports on how many Iraqi army units can fight with US support is out. It's the same one that says the terrorists have failed to create and spread sectarian conflict, so salt is required.

Apparently there are more than ever who are at level 2, whatever that means, but still only one that can run its own show. Curiously, a few days ago, I saw an NYT report from a dog-and-pony show of the all-new Iraqi Special Forces and their mission to take the fight to the terrorists, helicopters against the sunset, fade. One thing, though - it turns out that the Special Forces used to be known as the 36th Battalion of the Ministry of the Interior, aka the Police Commandos, aka the Badr Corps religious torture boys.

It will surprise none that the one battalion is still them. It will also surprise no-one that members of this force are turning up dead all over Baghdad.

Update.. In comments, Dsquared asks for more information. A battalion is usually around 700 strong, organised in a headquarters company and three or four rifle companies, with its own support weapons (machine guns, mortars and such), transport, and quartermasters but without more integral comms, logistics or heavy equipment. To the point, which is whether the Iraqi-SF-36th-Whatever would be enough force to carry out a coup, I'd say that this really depends on what happens afterwards. With the rest of the Iraqi police/army/National Guard being either sympathetic or ineffective, and the government concentrated inside the Green Zone, there's obviously a chance. So long as the Americans don't intervene, or don't realise what's happening until too late.

This is where those tanks referred to below come in. If they were on the side of the original government or at least opposed to the coup they could crush it. If they were on the side of the coupsters, they would pretty much guarantee success (and force the Americans to treat with the coup.) Which reminds me..enter left, tanks (German link). Here they come.

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