Iraq has been a mess. The recent rise of ISIL in the contiguous parts of Syria and Iraq have brought the country’s capital and critical infrastructure on the verge of capture by the terrorists. Many major cities have fallen and thousands of people have been killed. The United States is hoping that they will be able to entice the many Iraqi tribes for form militias (now referred to as Civil Defense Forces) and work with the (so far very ineffective) Iraqi Army to keep ISIL/ISIS at bay. The concept of a “militia” has deep meaning in American history with the defense of the nation being put forth as their responsibility in the nation’s second amendment.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But can this strategy work in Iraq?
As Iraq and the United States seek to once again to partner with the tribes to dislodge ISIL, it is crucial that both learn from the mistakes of the past. The skillful employment of irregular auxiliaries will not only ensure tactical success against ISIL but could also help promote long term stability in Iraq by building habits of cooperation between Sunnis and Shia. Moreover, lessons learned from this experience could also be of tremendous value in places such as Yemen, the Egyptian Sinai and Nigeria, where state governments hold little sway and depend on local irregulars to help combat insurgents and terrorist groups. (War on the Rocks)