The Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) are proving their worth and showing the incredible work done by Special Forces. The ISOF was in real danger of losing its effectiveness, because we left them hanging, as a nation.

The result of our abandonment was a hopeless, not hopeful Iraq. The warfighters felt that hopelessness. The mission was lost, and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) knew just enough not to function. Iraqis knew about bureaucracy and organizing itself to allow corruption to run rampant.  They effectively held themselves back in paperwork and became a giant slow moving machine. Are you proud of that Uncle Sam?

I saw firsthand the unfortunate direction of the ISOF after the war. It was sad then, and the state of the Middle East remains so today. It was frustrating at the time, and we felt bad for the Iraqis. It was all beyond our control but, we could maintain our rapport and help however we could in an honest manner.

However, there is some hope. The ISOF is making gains and doing well on some fronts.  The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces (ICTF), within the ISOF, were called the “dirty brigade,” for a while. Now, they’re the “golden division.” They aren’t taking back the country in one gunfight. But they’re the only ones getting the job done. ISOF winning on the battlefield means a lot. The victories symbolize what Foreign Internal Defense (FID) can bring to a nation at war within its borders.

ISOF enjoyed a lengthy relationship with American Special Operators, throughout the war and then afterward, and today, like a couple that you know deserves one another. The guys I worked with were great – and, surprisingly, “American.” Honestly, they were fresh and fun. These are non-sectarian national heroes that take the fight to the enemy. They’re imperfect and human and trying to do the right thing. But, they do some silly stuff, too, as warfighters do (see image).

Courtesy of

Scary masks and all, these are our guys in Iraq. The success of ISOF also shows that real people are fighting for the right side in the Middle East. Also, it shows that battles can be won without sophisticated technology, in particular against a seemingly and perceived powerful foe, ISIL. It all shows why unconventional warfare is working and winning by, with, and through others. Winning hearts and minds is, indeed, a very real thing. It’s value added that a small piece of tech cannot defeat. After all, it’s all used by the operator, a human (for now).


Featured image courtesy of