Wednesday, January 11, 2006

US army in Iraq institutionally racist, claims British officer

A senior British officer has criticised the US army for its conduct in Iraq, accusing it of institutional racism, moral righteousness, misplaced optimism, and of being ill-suited to engage in counter-insurgency operations.

The blistering critique, by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was the second most senior officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, reflects criticism and frustration voiced by British commanders of American military tactics[snip]

American soldiers, says Brig Aylwin-Foster, were "almost unfailingly courteous and considerate". But he says "at times their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism".

The US army, he says, is imbued with an unparalleled sense of patriotism, duty, passion and talent. "Yet it seemed weighed down by bureaucracy, a stiflingly hierarchical outlook, a predisposition to offensive operations and a sense that duty required all issues to be confronted head-on."[snip]

While US officers in Iraq criticised their allies for being too reluctant to use force, their strategy was "to kill or capture all terrorists and insurgents: they saw military destruction of the enemy as a strategic goal in its own right". In short, the brigadier says, "the US army has developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind".

Such an unsophisticated approach, ingrained in American military doctrine, is counter-productive, exacerbating the task the US faced by alienating significant sections of the population, argues Brig Aylwin-Foster.

Then somebody from the War College got a little hot under the collar:

Colonel Kevin Benson, director of the US army's school of advanced military studies, who told the Washington Post the brigadier was an "insufferable British snob", said his remark had been made in the heat of the moment. "I applaud the brigadier for starting the debate," he said. "It is a debate that must go on and I myself am writing a response."

Yeah, and I think it goes something like, "Sod off, swampy."

But I could be wrong.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | US army in Iraq institutionally racist, claims British officer

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