From Times Online November 16, 2009
Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Iraq - and aims to transfer military tactics to California
Oliver August in BaghdadArnold Schwarzenegger
(Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images)Troops stationed in Iraq didn't let Mr Schwarzenegger forget about hisbodybuilding, action movie past...
The governor of California trots out his most famous one-liner wherever he goes but, at the Victory military base in Baghdad today, he apparentlymeant it.“I’ll be back,” Arnold Schwarzenegger growled after working out with agroup of American soldiers on active duty in Iraq, all with necks andtrunks as thick as his.The muscleman who rose to Hollywood fame as The Terminator came tothe site of America’s bloodiest war in a generation to cheer up troops, butalso because there are important lessons to be learnt here.Mr Schwarzenegger said he wants to study counter-insurgency strategiesdeveloped by the US military when Iraq was on the brink of civil war, and bring them back to the mean streets of California, where criminal gangsrule entire neighbourhoods, especially in large cities.Already, police officers in some parts of the state are attempting to copy the hard-won lessons thathelped to calm down the western Iraqi city of Falluja and the Triangle of Death south of Baghdad,where insurgents once reigned openly.The governor did not actually go to these places, now relatively peaceful, to see soldiers on patrol.Instead he heard about their work in the safe environs of one of the largest US bases in Iraq and shook hands with them afterwards. He also held meetings with senior commanders.The transfer of counter-insurgency tactics from the military to the police is being pioneered in thecentral Californian town of Salinas. Combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are already advisingthe local authorities on how to conduct their own “surge,” as the US counter-insurgency campaign of President Bush is known.Rather than hunting down gang leaders and arresting them, the police is told to build trust in thecommunity that supports the gangs. Only by patiently “draining the swamp” can the leaders beeliminated.There are apparently striking similarities between Iraq and California. Many gang members andsupporters see police officers as an “occupying force” similar to a foreign military presence. Like inBaghdad, there are also language problems. Officers speak English and locals often Spanish, makingcooperation in criminal investigations difficult, even when citizens are willing.