View Full Version : Sons of Iraq

09-09-2008, 11:34 PM
Sons of Iraq
A Study in Irregular Warfare
by William S. McCallister, Small Wars Journal

Sons of Iraq (Full PDF Article) (http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/docs-temp/97-mccallister.pdf)

Iraq’s mainly Shia central government appears intent on limiting the power of the U.S. military backed Sons of Iraq (SOI) and its approximately 100,000 armed security volunteers. The SOI has been credited by the Coalition Forces for helping turn the tide against al-Qaeda in Iraq and are as of this writing remains on the U.S. military pay roll in return for providing security in local neighborhoods throughout the country. The Maliki government initially consented to Coalition Forces recommendation to integrate approximately 20% of these fighters, many of which are former insurgents, into the state’s security forces and to assist in providing vocational training for the remainder. But the Maliki government has begun to hedge on its promise. The Shia led government views these Sunni fighters as a threat in being and the U.S. sponsored neighborhood watch program itself simply a means for opponents to bide their time and worse, to infiltrate Iraq’s fledgling security forces. Fear of lost opportunities and resumption of sectarian violence has been cause for some to call for making U.S. military assistance conditional on the Maliki government keeping its word to the members of the SOI. The premise of this article is not to argue the merits of leveraging Iraq’s dependency on U.S. air power, logistic support, intelligence or training to gain concessions. A reengineered U.S. strategy may well be in order in light of the evolving security and political landscape. The intent rather is to provide further cultural and historical depth to the conversation and hopefully a more detailed appreciation of the operational environment to assist in reengineering existing U.S. strategy if required. The rationale of the Maliki government to limit the power of the Sunni auxiliary forces is much more complex and nuanced than causal reasoning would lead us to believe and expresses a unique blend of Iraq’s unique culture and historical experience.

This paper will address the types of behavior and political relationships shaping the current political and security landscape in Iraq. Included is an introduction to the uniquely Arab institution of neighborhood watch and tribal security. The remainder of the paper discusses the relationship between these organizations and the central government as an expression of irregular warfare. It concludes with some thoughts on the limits of U.S. strategy in shaping and influencing the behavior of Iraq’s social networks and tribal politics.

01-11-2009, 02:03 AM
MR, Jan-Feb 09: Thickening the Lines: Sons of Iraq, A Combat Multiplier (http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20090228_art007.pdf)

.....What started as a grass-roots movement that gained traction in one small portion of the battlespace became a fundamental part of the squadron’s COIN strategy; improved security allowed for economic, political, and social development, which won the sustained support of the people. This extraordinarily effective strategy used “Sons of Iraq” security contractors to thicken CF lines, facilitate reconciliation in local villages, empower Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), connect the local government to the people, and improve economic conditions......