On the main highway running through Al Anbar, the Iraqi Police are now seen daily.
When I got into country a year ago, this road was very dangerous, and the US military was the law. Now the Iraqi's are starting to police themselves. And you have to give them credit for courage. The military wont let any soldier outside the wire without full body armor and a fully armored vehicle. The IP's travel in commercial grade Chevy's and Ford's. Minimal body armor and little to none on the truck. They get paid less than us and face more risk than us. But they are standing up for their country, and for their own safety and freedom. Marine and Army units are constantly coming into Iraq to replace other units and take up the mission. But these guys are the last replacements. They are the ones we will eventually turn the country over to.
Folks back home love to complain that it is taking too long to train the Iraqis. That they must not be working hard enough. But you have to remember that these guys are facing multiple obstacles. The transition to a new government alone is huge. But they are also converting from a form of socialism under Saddam to democracy and capitalism. All this and trying to fight off AQ at the same time.
Contrast that to how long it takes to train a US soldier. Sure, you can pop out a soldier from basic training or boot camp in 4 or 5 months, depending on their specialty. But it takes another 3 or 4 years to train that soldier how to be a leader, such as a junior NCO. Tack on another 5 years for a senior NCO, or a junior officer. Most anyone can be trained to shoot, move, and communicate. But learning how to lead takes time, almost a decade in my case.
Speaking of which.....