DoD's use of Iraqi exiles
Mason, Edward J.
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The U.S. government has utilized exiles for decades, the latest example being the use of Iraqi exiles starting after the Gulf War. For close to thirteen years America supported Iraqi opposition groups, overtly after the signing of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. DoD's role until months before the invasion of Iraq was minimal, but then increased dramatically. Iraqi opposition groups provided names of volunteers willing to work with the U.S. military. Most were turned away for a number of reasons, but those selected were trained in civil affairs operations and embedded with great success in small teams into U.S. civil affairs units. Another program, even more ad hoc, involved Ahmad Chalabi's fighting forces. Not receiving the welcome from Iraqis that intelligence experts told them to expect, U.S. military commanders were eager to put an "Iraqi face" on operations and build the core of the new Iraqi army. Chalabi's fighters, escorted by Army Special Forces A-Teams, provided a number of useful services to the war effort, but with minimal logistical support and hindered by Chalabi's political ambitions, they were quickly disbanded. Exiles have many of the skills necessary in conventional and asymmetric warfare: language skills, familial ties, and cultural proficiency. But this unique segment of our society needs to be better utilized by DoD. After analyzing each of the Iraqi exile programs in detail, suggestions on how to harness needed skills in the future are offered.
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