Army's Role in Iraq Turning Personal

Troops 'all but qualify for Iraqi citizenship,' for better or worse
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2008 11:21 PM CDT
A US soldier eats freshly baked bread and looks on at the cooking pot at a family compound outside Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 16, 2008.    (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – After five years of war, the US military is enmeshed in virtually all aspects of Iraqi life—a common development in such engagements but one that can prove to be a double-edged sword for military efficiency, writes Lawrence Kaplan in the policy forum Bitter Lemons. "American units slowly melt into the landscape, becoming in effect the most powerful of their area's tribes," Kaplan writes. 

Like soldiers in Vietnam and the Philippines, Kaplan observes, field units in Iraq have adopted local flavor, dining with tribal elders and even peppering their private conversations with Iraqi phrases. The phenomenon occurs because it works: Kaplan notes that the surge showed results after regiments had “gone native.” But there's a flip side: Having given so much in Iraq, will officers be reticent to leave if the country is still broken?