Meet the Sons of Iraq

“Concerned Local Citizens” didn’t cut it with Iraqis

The CLCs—Concerned Local Citizens—are no more. Just a week ago, people couldn’t keep the acronym, which refers to the U.S. military’s effort to turn groups of former insurgents into paid allies, off their lips.

Everything revolved around the CLCs: using them to build on the improved security in much of Iraq; getting them to cooperate with the Iraqi police; getting their members on the police force; making sure they aren’t bringing heavy weapons to their checkpoint sites; synchronizing their goals to those of the Iraqi government, etc.

But now, no one is mentioning the CLCs. With the amazing speed of an acronym-happy military, the new, Iraqi-approved term is “Sons of Iraq.” SOI for short. Seems that “Concerned Local Citizen” didn’t translate into Arabic so well, and the Iraqis didn’t like it. So now, when reporters refer to armed groups of civilians manning checkpoints and doing the work that the Iraqi police and Army either will not or cannot do, know that they are the “Sons of Iraq.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.