Thursday, September 06, 2007

Iraqi Security Force Training

The News from Iraq reflects the reports from an independent Commission created by congress that estimates it will take at least 12-18 Months before Iraq’s Army and Police can take charge of their country.

A report by an independent commission created by Congress says that it will be at least 12 to 18 months before Iraq’s army and police can take charge of the country’s security. The 20-member commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones of the Marines, now retired, found that the Iraqi armed forces, especially the army, were steadily improving but still suffering from “limited operational effectiveness, according to a copy of the panel’s report that was being circulated Wednesday in advance of its formal release. David Cloud, New York Times, September 6, 2007

In my mind, that assessment bears some correlation to my own observations that we continue to train countless Iraqis and don’t witness their effective utilization. MNSTC-I effectively trains candidates for these forces but there exists a revolving door in units for the soldiers who often do not last at duty locations in the field when placed under local (Iraqi) control. We don’t control implementation and retention of the number of Police and soldiers already trained in country. That remains under Iraqi control entirely. The losses and continued waste of trained Iraqi Soldiers and Police is due to continued sectarian purging of the ranks, corruption of the government and Interior Ministries and to a lesser extent the Ministry of Defense in Iraq.

Its easy to be critical of the senior Iraqi Military and its establishment until you realize that it was formed from absolutely nothing. What we take for granted – senior well experienced and seasoned officer and NCOs in our forces does not exist in large scale in Iraq in the Military or Police. The basic command and control functions, to include logistical planning and support were vaporized and will take time to re-establish. All of these tasks have been approached concurrent with the fight in Iraq by MNSTC-I. as quoted to many in MNSTC-I “its like building an airplane while in flight”

Couple the nascent infrastructure difficulties with a “less than capable and new government subjected to serious rifts and divides” and you have a significant challenge within any timeline.

Is the assessment correct? Probably understates the time required if Iraqi institutional issues are not resolved quickly. Replacing large blocks of the Iraqi security forces and retraining new will result in the same inefficiencies if the handover of newly trained forces continues to a government that is unable to resolve sectarian and corruption difficulties. That is the root of the issue that must be addressed to improve the effectiveness of the security forces in Iraq.

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