Training The Mahdi Army
More evidence of how we are simply husbanding a civil war:
As part of a nearly eight-week-old plan to temper violence in Baghdad, U.S. forces last month set up a permanent base and resumed security sweeps in the enclave for the first time in three years. Sadr's black-clad fighters -- who battled U.S. forces in the past -- have appeared to stand down, even as Sadr publicly condemns the U.S. presence.
But soldiers with a U.S. military police unit that has provided police training and patrols in Sadr City for most of the past 10 months said the Mahdi Army disrupts their efforts every day. Most of the Iraqi police they train are either affiliated with the militia or intimidated by it, the soldiers said. At worst, they said, militia infiltration in the police might be behind attacks on Americans, even though Iraqi officials offered assurances that the Mahdi Army was lying low.
"I don't really think there is an end or a beginning. I think it's all intermingled," Staff Sgt. Toby Hansen, 30, said about the Mahdi Army's relationship to the police trained by his unit. "Eventually, when we leave, they're going to police their own city. They're going to do it their way."