In his book The End of Iraq, Peter Galbraith writes that Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion, was absolutely convinced of the need to disband the Kurdish military force known as the peshmerga. Then as now they were the only stalwart American military ally in Iraq, but Bremer favored a national army.
In April 2004, Bremer dispatched a RAND consultant to liaise with the Kurdish intelligence chief and press the point. They spent days together negotiating and at last a deal was struck. The peshmerga would be dissolved. In their place, it was agreed, the Kurds would create three new military formations: mountain rangers, a rapid reaction force, and a counterterrorism strike force.
But just as the man from RAND was about to board his helicopter in to take him back to Baghdad, Galbraith writes, “he observed how important it was that the Kurds, masters of Iraq’s largest militia, were willing to give it up for the sake of national unity. Some doubt may have crept into his mind as he then asked for the Kurdish translation of mountain rangers. ‘Peshmerga’ was the reply. Had he asked, he would have discovered that ‘rapid reaction force’ and ‘counterterrorism strike force’ are also rendered into Kurdish as ‘peshmerga.’”