It’s a complex set of problems they have, the armies of the Arab world. Here’s a true story that will illustrate a lot of that why. It’s also a story I’ve told before in the essay, Training for War1:
During Bright Star 85, the Egyptian Army, which is one of the better Arab armies, set up some tents for us as Wadi Natrun, northwest of Cairo. The officer in charge of the detail looked at the Americans, looked at the tents (which were, by the way, better than ours), looked at the Americans…
He was thinking that an American’s signature on a hand receipt would do him no good if one of those very good and very expensive tents grew legs and went to hide in a shipping container. He put his platoon in formation, held up three fingers, and announced, “I need three guards.”
Every man reached into his back pocket, pulled out a wallet and began peeling off notes. That is to say, they were offering bribes, baksheesh. The three who came up with the smallest bribes were picked to guard the tents. These three then proceeded to squat by the road, hold hands, and cry like babies.2 And it was sort of understandable that they cried because for the next four days they got no food or water except what our men gave them out of pity; their officer just didn’t care.