Saad Hassoun, an Iraqi army officer, told Al-Monitor, “The majority of volunteers need quality training and enough time to master the use of weapons and martial arts.” He added, “National enthusiasm can be reckless, and can lead to human losses if not coupled with proper training.”
Hassoun said, “There are thousands of Iraqis who have combat experience from their involvement in the wars that Iraq fought in the 1980s and during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and even though these more experienced Iraqis are older, [the army] can benefit from their expertise and training.”
In the 1980s, the former Iraqi regime formed the Iraqi Popular Army to bolster the state army in its war against Iran. This pattern is repeating itself today under different circumstances and for different purposes.
Hassoun believes, however, that at that time, “The Popular Army was more organized and powerful than the current groups of volunteers. It relied on older-age groups in comparison to now.”
Qais Hamza from Babylon is one example of the fighters trained in the volunteering centers. He was sent to the battles in al-Taji in Baghdad to fend off the attacks of armed groups, during which three of his fellow volunteers died.
Hamza told Al-Monitor that he had no livelihood other than what he earned from volunteering. He noted, “A large number of young men who were transferred to the battlefields got killed due to the enthusiasm that was not combined with expertise and proper training.”
An Iraqi officer tasked with training the volunteers in the Babylon center who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “There are large quantities but no quality. The operation needs to be able to choose quality fighters who can fend off terrorism with the least human and material losses possible.”
(Terrorism image via Shutterstock)