Not Exactly God and Country. . .
One of the myths of the Vietnam War was that the montagnards fought with the U.S. Special Forces because they loved the Green Berets and the love was reciprocal. The montagnards were primitive, but they weren't stupid. The French played the very same game, then left the "yards" holding the bag.
The montagnards fought not for love of the SF or the Republic of Vietnam. They fought because the SF provided training at the battalion level with corresponding weaponry. They were in effect planning for their eventual battle to free themselves from Vietnamese control, both North and South. This freedom movement was called FULRO and was actively and passively aided by SF actions.
Fast-forward 36 years to a military and a press which fails to grasp that military gains are meaningless unless the Iraqis form a true national consensus. Such a hoped-for consensus was the entire rationale behind the Surge. Our military was to cut slack so that the Iraqis could consolidate politically.
Barring that cohesion, our military can gain ground 'til the cows come home, but that won't effect a stable, effective legitimate government in Iraq. We are told that U.S. forces are fighting them left and right -- against both Sunni and Shiite extremists -- and are "making strides," but what is the nature of these strides? "Waging successful battles" is not a yardstick of success.
Credited with the reduction in Iraqi violence over the past six months were "an influx of thousands of U.S. troops, and the formation of mostly Sunni groups of paid volunteers who agreed to battle al-Qaida for the United States military." "Paid volunteers" is code for mercenaries.
So our newest battlefield asset is not a technological one, but a conventional one. These Sunni mercenaries are a centerpiece of our current COIN operations. The Sunnis effectively have been co-opted as a U.S.-controlled militia.
However, this militia, like the that of the montagnards before them, has no loyalty to or concept of a national government. The Sunni volunteers are there to get training, arms, body armor, commo gear and vehicles. This puts them outside the control of the Iraqi government, and the U.S. gladly obliges.
That the Sunnis are fighting "for the U.S. military" is not a hopeful sign for Iraqi national consensus, nor does it indicate any loyalty to the government of Iraq. They are actually fighting for themselves and their own unique tribal objectives.
The Sunnis are fighting al-Qaida in Mesopotamia simply because it is in their interests to do so. It is not because they have come around to the side of the U.S., nor because they are wedded to the concept of a united Iraq, contrary to the proclamations of George W. Bush.. Euphemistically, we would call this pragmatic behavior.