Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Long December

Recently there has been a lot of talk about increasing the training mission in Iraq as part of the solution towards getting the US out of the country. Additionally in recent new has been the results of IG inspections from the Principle organization charged with building the Iraqi Military and Police - MNSTC-I.

I was assigned to the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq. This organization has the task of providing the personnel to train the Iraq Military and Police. In 2004 - 2005 it was capably led by LTG Petraeus but was not supported to the extent necessary to completetly do the job needed.... we started with soft skin vehicles, AK47 rifles as US M16s and M4s were not available for issue, few other resources. Reserve soldiers made up most of the manpower and at the time most were thrown into the breech with little preparation for the momentous task of national security apparatus building.

Despite the huge challenge and much to the credit of LTG Petraeus belief in Reserve soldiers (treated exactly like our active duty brethren) the command started the process for establishing an Iraqi Military and Police force even before the Iraqi government was permanently established.

There were errors, (missing weapons??) and problems in accounting... but really not many given the danger, lack of clear guidance from other US agencies, minimum resources. Everyone assigned toiled through every obstacle, traveled to every corner of the country and worked hand and hand with the Iraqi at the local and national level to establish facilities, training institutions, logistics basics, medical clinics, equipment. With no blueprint, few guidelines the work was carried out honestly, with Iraqi interests at heart and sometimes despite objections from Coalition units when we attempted to give the Iraqi's parts of "coalition stuff" to get them established. The MNSTC-I crew fought to provide enough to start the Iraqi military on its path towards self sufficiency before that was in vogue.

The Hindsight visonarys are picking at the accountability, noting the defects from comfortable secure parlors after the fact. Few of them cared for our work when in progress aside small soundbites of information. We fought our own forces when our attempts to get Iraqi military equipment that overstepped preconcieved and shortsighted limits.

Its good to hear that LTG Petraeus will provide the doctrine for the future forces put into such a demanding scenario in his role at the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavonworth. I'm sure he will be far more polished in stating the need for applying adequate resources to the nationbuilding task early in the engagement. I look forward to seeing his product and hope his detractors and supporters alike will applaud its application and move beyond investigating minor issues of procedure done by true "action officers" on his staff in MNSTC-I.

Folks that served in MNSTC-I knew they were part of history, believed in their work and served honorably under every demand thrown at them. Just as all other soldiers in Iraq past and present are doing. We need to listen to those that have been there, learn what is needed and apply the resources to get the job done.

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