Then on Jan. 30, the day before the Iraqi elections, Maj. Wales got a tip via his boss, Gen. Petraeus, that a new 2,000-man force calling itself the Second Defenders of Baghdad Brigade had formed somewhere in the city under the command of an Iraqi general named "Faris."Boy, that was brilliant, finally figuring out that Iraq's top general might actually know something about these things -- I mean, how could that be?
But Maj. Wales's usual American and Iraqi sources had never heard of the unit -- or the general. "There are no generals named Faris in the Iraqi Army," one senior Iraqi general in the Ministry of Defense told him.
Maj. Wales began to think Gen. Petraeus had been passed a bad tip. "There is no way in the world there could be a Second Defenders of Baghdad Brigade," Maj. Wales said. "It is just impossible. There is no place in Baghdad left to put them."
Maj. Wales made a few more calls to U.S. liaison officers working with the Iraqis and turned up nothing. Finally, he got in touch with Gen. Babakir Zebari, Iraq's top general, who said the brigade had recently moved into tents and a hangar bay at Baghdad's long-abandoned Muthana Airport.
Ackerman's update to his original post, which notes Swopa's point that these militias might in fact be the death squads of the infamous "Salvador option," is puzzling, since the point of this article is that the U.S. is fairly clueless and behind the curve. I suspect that the U.S. military calls these off-the-book militias "pop-ups" because they have only recently popped up on their own very tiny radar.
New readers may want to look at my January postings debunking much of the debate around the "Salvador option" issue here, here and here. Full access to the WSJ piece is found, in two parts, in the comments section of a posting at LAT.