I didn't start this to be a series, but it seems to be going well, so why stop now?
From another reporter embedded with our troops in Iraq:
JUST TWO WEEKS AGO, Captain Thompson, along with a squad of soldiers from Baker Co's 3rd Platoon, met with the representatives of the al Jabouri tribe. As we sat down in the living room of the house owned by the sheik and his brother, the men told us of how their tribe's village had, in recent months, been the focus of insurgent attacks. Black scorch marks on the portions of the cement floor not covered by carpet, as well as on the walls (despite their recent plastering), backed up their story of fire having been set to their house in particular in recent months.Note, especially, this line: "the desire to secure themselves outweighed whatever concerns they might have had." Al Qaeda is doing our recruiting for us, in a way. By being so brutal to those that would otherwise not give American troops the time of day, they are driving these people into our arms, despite their misgivings. We may be, in their eyes, the lesser of two evils, but we have the opportunity to show the Iraqi people that we are trustworthy. That is, unless short-sighted politicians in DC screw up a good military plan by trying to be armchair generals.
Thompson wrote down the information they offered about this and other past attacks, and thanked the tribal representatives -- the sheik, his brother, and a pair of neighborhood gentlemen -- for contacting him. "We're here to help you," he said. "Tell me what you need." The brothers and their companions spent over an hour detailing the transgressions of the insurgency against their tribe and their village, from the fire to alleged kidnappings, and expressed a great interest in manning their own tribal security force. "We set up a police checkpoint for you right outside the neighborhood here," Thompson reminded them, noting that crime and terrorism had gone down since then.
The sheik, though, was less than impressed with the work of the NPs -- who, he noted, "only work from 7am to 5pm."
"We need an army here," he declared, "and you are not enough soldiers to keep us safe."
Thompson very quickly explained the ground rules of the Concerned Citizens program, from the allowance for (but not provision of) AK-47s, to the uniform requirement, to the requisite stipulation that the armed guards must submit to the National Police and to coalition forces unquestioningly. The latter caused a bit of consternation on the part of the al Jabouri (a sizable portion of the NP force is believed to be corrupt), but the desire to secure themselves outweighed whatever concerns they might have had.
At the end of the meeting, Thompson agreed to return in the near future with money to purchase uniforms for the 60 promised guards, in exchange for their all being present at a formation so that he could input them into Baker Company's biometric identification database. He also informed them that, in the next week, Baker Co. would be holding a "Med Op," or a clinic for the villagers in the area. All sick and ailing were welcome to come, and coalition medics would treat them.