US officials say the military is transforming to meet the changing face of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. BBC Arabic’s Roula Ayoubi reports on a new “cultural training” programme to improve US soldiers’ skills in dealing with local people.
“Assalamu alaykum, Ahlan wa sahlan, welcome.” With these words, Iraqi sheikhs greet a group of marines in a narrow room at the beginning of a training session.
The class is part of “Mojave Viper”, a new pre-deployment cultural training course established to prepare US forces for what the military calls “irregular warfare” in Iraq.
The meeting starts with a prayer suggested by the group’s Iraqi interpreter, who wears a marine uniform.