Lumberton Marine who trained Iraqi soldiers weighs in on crisis - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Lumberton Marine who trained Iraqi soldiers weighs in on crisis in Iraq

LUMBERTON - The fact that the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is taking control of major Iraqi cities at a rapid pace doesn't come as a surprise to Lumberton veteran Matt Harrell.

"None of us thought (the Iraqi army was) ever really ready," Harrell told 12News Wednesday.

A corporal in the Marine Corps in 2006 and 2007, Harrell served two tours in Iraq, where he helped train hundreds of Iraqi soldiers.

"Our job was to make them proficient on the M-16 platform, and train them to fight, train them to win battles."
Harrell says many of the soldiers were undisciplined, even lazy, sometimes at their own risk.

"They weren't military men, they were looking for a paycheck more or less.... one soldier fell asleep on post, so I walked up, took his rifle, took it apart and set it next to him to remind him that he could've been killed," Harrell said.

Harrell says it's likely some of the men he helped train are now the ones trying to fight off the ISIS insurgents.

"I liked quite a few of them... hopefully they're doing well against their enemies right now," he said.

Harrell says he believes if the United States still had a strong military presence in Iraq that ISIS would still be in hiding. He says he's not against sending over U.S. troops in small numbers to help, but...

"They've gotta take care of their own country, we can't fight their battles forever," said Harrell. "I wouldn't count the Iraqis out just yet, but they need to come together and put aside their differences and fight as one team, otherwise they'll never, ever, ever win."

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