An Iraqi Army unit fled its position in Sadr City last night, despite American protestations, the New York Times reports, breeding further doubt among US commanders. A captain begged the Iraqi in charge to reconsider. “If you turn around … those soldiers will follow you,” he said. “If you tuck tail and cowardly run away, they will follow up that way, too.”
The retreat left a crucial position undefended, and was a blow to America’s attempt to put an Iraqi face on the fight. “It bugs the hell out of me,” said one sergeant. “We know if we are not up there helping these guys out we are making very little progress.” Even committed Iraqi fighters are ill-trained, and prone to friendly fire.