Saturday, July 21, 2007

Training Coaching US troops on Iraqi culture

As part of their pre-deployment training, US armed forces are enjoying increasingly sophisticated immersion exercises. BBC has a great article on "Mojave Viper", a new pre-deployment cultural training course established to prepare US forces for "irregular warfare" in Iraq. We've posted on these elaborate training exercises in an earlier post, with particular focus on the difficulties in finding appropriate role players.

'Barack Salmoni, deputy director of the centre, says the focus reflects a 2006 military assessment that "developing broader linguistic capability and cultural understanding is critical to prevail in the long war and to meet 21st century challenges".

During the six- to eight-week course, the marines learn about 200 basic words in Arabic - enough to allow them to deal with local people on the ground in Iraq...

But, Mr Salmoni says, the US military became aware of the need to give the troops' mission in Iraq "civil and cultural dimensions" when the Bush administration decided to establish a new Iraqi government.

The US military is trying to teach troops how to build trust with Iraqis.

"We noticed that we had the military tactics but lacked the knowledge of Iraqi laws and traditions so we needed to learn about them all. I am afraid we didn't anticipate all these bifurcations."

Since January, newly established PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) have increased their operations in Iraqi cities.

The military is becoming more involved in "civil affairs", which entails helping to build local infrastructure.'