Bob Owens seems to think the recent decision by the Iraqi Army to trade in their faithful AKs for the M-16-type weapons is fishy. I don't have anything like an inside line on this; I had nothing to do with anyone involved in the decision, wasn't aware of it until I read it in the press, and don't have any ties to Colt or other weapon merchants. I haven't talked to anybody in the military about this issue.
That said, why would it be a good idea besides making money for contractors? Here's a reason: it creates another interoperability between the Iraqi Army and the NATO supply chain.
Envision an army trained by the United States, with extensive counterinsurgency experience, an internal structure increasingly in line with the NATO standard (cf. the new NCO academy) -- an Arab, Muslim army that integrates Sunnis and Shi'ites in cooperation toward a goal of a modern state open to peaceful trade and prosperity. Now imagine this army in a future world with a happier Iraq, and no longer needing such large force numbers internally. Now imagine that army can tie into NATO supply chains, and partially deploy in support of future Coalitions dealing with furter COIN operations -- an army that, like the army of El Salvador, remembers kindly American sacrifices that brought its people out of tyranny and chaos.
We've talked a lot about what future challenges face the world. Imagine what that army would be worth, in a decade or two. What investment would be worth having that army, that ally?