I worked for a man that had served in Iraq and was responsible for guarding transport trucks across the desert to various military installations. Now that the withdrawal in Iraq is in full effect, the issue of protecting the movement of troops and goods is in the news again. Currently, 46,000 troops are still in Iraq and most will leave via a 160-mile stretch of highway running to Kuwait. The New York Times reports:
Eight years in Iraq has taught the United States military a hard-learned lesson, that American forces cannot effectively secure large areas without the help of the local people. So commanders have fashioned an exit strategy which borrows a key element from the Awakening Movement, a successful tactical program carried out in 2006, just as the violence was peaking. The American exit strategy calls for the military to give cash payments of $10,000 a month to 10 tribal leaders.
Officially, the money is paid to have Iraqis clean the crucial roadway of debris, an apparent pretense because an Iraqi-American agreement bars outright payments for security. The sheiks keep some of the cash and use the rest to hire 35 workers each who clear the road of trash. The work does make it harder for militants to hide bombs.
Photo credit: Max Becherer for The New York Times