Murphy's Law: September 25, 2003


American units are hiring thousands of Iraqis to help with building, maintaining and guarding their bases. While American troops guard the bases themselves, Iraqis are hired to provide security in the areas around the bases. Special Forces troops quickly let the regular troops know that if you wanted security, you went to the local tribal chief and made a deal to hire some of his people for any and all jobs. The chief provided the people, took the money and made sure that no trigger happy outsiders showed up to ruin such a sweet deal. Establishing a network of local contacts also made it possible to find out which local businessmen and contractors were trustworthy (a very relative term in Iraq). In this respect, military intelligence and Special Forces (especially civil affairs troops) have been a big help. A lot of the work being done by American troops is information gathering. This involves finding out who is who. In particular, there was a need to find out who the local Baath officials, supporters and informers were. In 80 percent of the country, this was not much of a problem. But in many Sunni Arab areas, the Baath party was still, unofficially, in control. This is where most of the fighting is going on. But even in these Sunni Arab areas, there are many people willing to provide information (with, or without, payment). 

Where necessary, American generals will sit down with local leaders, to add maximum stature to the negotiations. In several cases, tribal chiefs who tried to cheat on their deals were arrested, and coalition troops sent to confront angry tribesmen. Eventually, the thieving chiefs see the error of their ways and stay bought.

While some of the Iraqi employees, and informers, prove to be unreliable, if you don't get out there and get involved with the locals, you never get the information and help you need.


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