Why it might have been reasonable for the Iraqis soldiers to desert rather than fight Isis and how a foreign legion could help solve it

Before I made the case that a US foreign legion was a pragmatic economic solution for the USA.

Consider now the position of a soldier in Iraqi army.

The final straw was the death of a friend, killed two weeks ago by a sniper’s bullet. The infantryman, Bashar al-Halbousi, deserted, making the same choice as hundreds of other soldiers in his battalion, he said.

“The state is weak,” Mr. Halbousi said. “This will be an endless battle.”

The militants came in waves, sending suicide bombers when their ammunition grew scarce. Mohamed said that eight of his friends had died and that he almost did, too, when a mortar shell struck his Humvee.

After months of grinding conflict against a resurgent militant movement, the Iraqi Army is having its power blunted by a rise in desertions, turning the tide of the war and fragmenting an institution, trained and funded by the United States, that some hoped would provide Iraqis a common sense of citizenship.

In interviews over several days, soldiers and army commanders said the desertions had become widespread, with thousands of men laying down their arms, gutting front-line units across the country. Before the troops dissolved in Mosul, the army was losing as many as 300 soldiers a day, between desertions, deaths and injuries, according to a security analyst who works with the Iraqi government.

Some soldiers said their families begged them to leave the service. One 25-year-old deserter said his mother was so terrified of the fighting that she burned his uniform every time he returned home on leave. Two months ago, he said she raised the stakes, threatening to kill herself if he returned to his unit.

Officers in the Iraqi army were purged of competent leaders and replaced with political cronies of Prime minister Malaki.
You cannot trust there would be a competent leadership and a sustained and resolved campaign to defeat the enemy completely.
The US pulled out years ago and now has stated they will not send soldiers to fight the enemy in Iraq and Syria.
The army could have Sunni sympathizers to Isis who would inform on your identity so you have to think about protecting your family from later reprisals.

If the USA had a dedicated commitment to a foreign legion

If the USA had a commitment to using a 150,000-500,000 strong foreign legion to keep the peace (pax americana) then how could this be different. This would also be different. If the soldiers knew that they were part of long term commitment to bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region, they would have belief in the cause that were fighting and dieing.

In the french foreign legion, identities are often hidden. Everyone is Jean Paul. It can become tougher for someone to find out who or where your family is.

If there is a long term US commitment to complete victory then there is less concern about reprisals.

If there is faith in the competence and training of the officers then there is discipline and morale when the fighting gets tough.

The USA would have to ensure that there were competent trained officers.

The USA would have to make a lifelong commitment to foreign legionaires in terms of ability to earn pensions and health benefits even if salaries were in the $1500/month range.

The implicit contract would have to be –

have belief in the justness of the cause
dedicate yourselves to us
we will dedicate ourselves to you
we will try to keep you as safe as possible through consistent policy and strong leadership
you will help keep us safe
we will help keep your family safe

we will raise the necessary force to do what must be done
we will vet who is in here and keep it clear of traitors
trust your political leadership will be steady to the cause
trust your military leaders are competent

This 15 to 50 divisions would then have the morale and commitment and staying power to to grind out a multi-year war to clean out Syria and Iraq. They would also have the full backing and close air support of the US air force. They would thus know they were not have an equal ground fight. They could call in an air strike.

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