Wednesday, March 07, 2007

SURGE ~Sourness' -Iraqi Troops less than cooperative

Great Post on the Guardian

Joint Missions Tricky Affairs in Iraq

Thursday March 8, 2007 2:46 AM

By RYAN LENZ Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. soldiers paced around their new outpost in Sadr City, checking their watches, drinking coffee and waiting for their Iraqi partners.

They finally rolled up more than two hours late.

It was supposed to be a seamless display of Iraqi and American cooperation in the urban fiefdom of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia. What it became, however, was a wrangle of competing commanders, bruised egos and conflicting priorities.

The troubles in launching just one joint mission late Tuesday pointed to the larger - and long-term - challenges of trying to mesh battle-hardened U.S. forces with untested Iraqi recruits as Baghdad's 3-week-old security crackdown tries to hold the ground it's reclaimed.

``If we get out of here by midnight, I'll call this a success,'' whispered Capt. Josh Taylor, 28, of Florence, Ala., a company commander from the Army's 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment.

Hours before, U.S. soldiers arrived at a former police station being converted to an Iraqi-U.S. compound. U.S. forces first entered the capital's sprawling Sadr City district on Sunday under a carefully scripted deal between military authorities and political allies of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

The patrol was scheduled to get under way about 7 p.m. - with one of the first stops to see an informant promising to identify Mahdi Army members in hiding.

But there were no Iraqi forces around except for the handful of local policemen permanently stationed at the outpost.

The nearly 60 Americans went upstairs to wait. The Iraqis stayed in a makeshift lounge, nibbling on bread and cheese and watching the reality show ``Pimp My Ride'' on a satellite channel.


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