Over the course of 15 to 20 days, the recruits receive physical and weapons training. “Then,” says Maj. Laafi Abbas, “we send them to the front line.”
Their preparation is minimal. Many of the sweating volunteers are in dress shoes or sneakers rather than boots. Few have guns. An instructor shows them how to dismantle a weapon while the men watch. Abbas says he’d like to train for longer, with more weapons, but he hasn’t been assigned the money.
The Pentagon calls these tribal fighters crucial to the long-term defeat of ISIS. The thinking goes that in a place like Anbar, where ISIS enjoys considerable support, you have to encourage any local guys who may be prepared and willing to take on the extremists.
But the tribes say they’re under-resourced and there’s no way they can mount an offensive without more help either from the coalition or their own government.