Thursday, December 14, 2006

Training Iraqi Military and Police

Recently I reviewed an article in the Army Times describing the need to improve the quality of soldiers assigned to the Iraqi Military and Police training missions. The article inferred that comments from the current Commander related that quality of instructors in the past was somehow deficient. It was based on comments attributed to Brig Gen Dana Pittard, Commanding General of the Iraq Assistance Group.

Well, he is blunt.... some of the problems he notes are recurring and its not good to hear that our efforts in 2004-2005 were somehow not up to grade (In his opinion). He makes good points that the effort must be supported as the priority of effort for our forces in Iraq. He is calling the right program to alert the military establishment to support the effort. However his criticism is a little too directed at Reserve Soldiers in his note that that is who he has fired and insinuates that they are somewhat to blame.

As a Reserve soldier assigned to Iraq to the task of training Iraqi Military I have to note: The truth is I didn't ask for my assignment - an active duty force sent me to MNSTC-I to be a part of the burgeoning effort there to get the Iraqi Secuity forces established. Active Duty staffs planned the deployment of about 700 individual soldiers from a Reserve Training Unit with 30 days or less training to a warzone. My peers from the Army Reserve were similarly thrown into the most austere and unsupported conditions imaginable to get programs, training, installations in place to train the Iraqi Army and Police. My biggest obstacles to getting resources for Iraqis was a prevalent attitude to take care of Coalition needs despite any requirements the Iraqi forces or their mentors at the time had. I had the opportunity to cross paths with many coalition units as the Iraqi Installation Plans officer responsible for the stationing of all Iraqi Military and police units in Iraq.

I could go on at length to describe the challenges - the picture above is one from the early days in country when we used a standard Chevy Suburban (No armor) and AK-47s to get around an do our mission. We were not an intrinsic supported element of any coalition unit in theater and ranked slightly above our Iraqi counterparts for assistance in supplies, equipment to do the task of building capable Iraqi forces from the ground up. We recieved the greatest support from Foreign coalition partners (Polish, Ukranian units in MND-SE) because they had no preconcieved notions of doing anything but supporting rebuilding efforts.

Now with 20-20 hindsight, the new commander of the Iraqi Assistance Group will do a better job - I hope so .... and I hope he is better supported to what has now become a main effort... lets hope it is not too late. In his interest to gain support to the task, he should tred lightly on the efforts of those embattled predecessors that pioneered the effort that he manages today.

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