September 8, 2008:
You won't have much trouble telling American
and Iraqi hummers apart. Over the last few years, thousands of humvees and
other American military vehicles to the Iraqi army and police. It was thought
that some of the vehicles would fall into the hands of terrorists, and be used
in attacks on American troops. Well, this hasn't happened much at all. This is partly
because the Iraqis tend to treat their military vehicles like they do their
civilian ones. That means all manner of decorations. Fur trim, sheep skin, the fuzzy dice, whatever near the drivers seat. On the
outside, they like to apply stickers all over, as well as putting stuffed
animals on the front of the vehicle or next to weapons. They don't try to
repaint, but you can tell an Iraqi from an American hummer at a distance.
The same pattern applies to the combat
uniforms. The Iraqis wear a similar camouflage pattern uniform, helmet and
protective vest. Iraqis carry M-16s and other U.S. weapons. But they don't wear
this gear the same way. Some will not be wearing their helmets, others will
have their protective vest open, or partly so. The Iraqi troops will, even at a
distance, look a lot more "casual." They carry their weapons in a
more relaxed fashion and, in general, appear less menacing that U.S. troops do.
The best trained Iraqi troops do dress
and move much more like American troops. That's because in this case,
appearance and capability do tend to go together.