Hearts and Minds absent from US Forces

29/09/2014 by Nick Johnson

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In 2003, General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux boldly devised a plan to train US forces whilst serving in the Iraq War.

In his new autobiography, Taking Command, General David Richards outlines the attempt, that was made during the conflict, to aid the American effort in the Middle East.

US Hearts and Minds

The American military were described as having “little understanding of how to handle the post-conflict challenges”, which was supposedly apparent during their astringent approach to conversing with Iraqi locals.

Based on first-hand accounts, the US forces patrolled the streets in their shielded personnel carriers and tanks; whilst heavily arming themselves with guns and other weaponry.

A major mistake the Americans made whilst out in their convoys, was to cover their eyes with dark sunglasses. By doing so it became impossible to gain eye contact with the inhabitants, a basic skill to help gain trust.

Rather than politely mingling with the residents, it became evident that the ground forces were interested in maintaining a divide, as opposed to attempting in building a relationship.

Contrary to the American methods, the British soldiers were instructed that in order to successfully establish a strong rapport with the Iraqi natives, it was imperative to conduct themselves in a professional, yet welcoming manner.

General Richards would approach locals and immediately state that they are there to help, before communicating about trivial matters such as football, in order to make them feel comfortable.

The loud vehicles used by the US forces are hardly the most welcoming concepts for uncivilised societies to respond to; we all know how important first impressions are after all!

The checkpoints that were constructed during their observational patrols, seemed to be an excuse to ‘pop’ up some barbed wire and man the area appearing tough. Another example of their lack of hearts and minds.