Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iraq-ization of the War

Bill Roggio embeds with an Iraqi Army unit and reports.

The "bad news" portion is typical and almost endemic to Third World countries.

Logistics. The IA logistical system is broken at the battalion, brigade, division and Ministry of Defense levels. Requests for equipment such as batteries, air conditioners, heaters, vests, helmets, building materials are mostly ignored. Soldiers in some units share helmets or vests to go out on patrol.

The Ministry of Defense. The MoD is a highly centralized decision making organization, which controls the purse strings of the Iraqi Army. Requests for equipment that should be fulfilled at the battalion or brigade level must go up to MoD, and are ignored.

Pay. Some soldiers and officers haven't been paid in over a year.

Administration. The Iraqi Army and Ministry of Defense does not have centralized system for keeping soldier's on the books, notes Captain Spells, who deals directly with administrative and pay issues for the Iraqi Army

Combat Support. There is a lack of engineers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and maintenance units at the battalion and brigade level.

On the other hand, the "good news" part is good, indeed.

Tactical Independence. The soldiers are gathering their own intelligence, are planning and executing operations independently. They are able to adjust planning on the fly.

Tactically proficient. The Iraqi Army is executing patrols, ambushes, raids, snap entry control points, manning the Entry Control Points. The soldiers are excellent at identifying IED indicators - the signs IEDs have been planted nearby.

Cultural Awareness. The Iraqi soldier's ability to speak the language, understand the culture and identify foreigners and other suspicious activities far outweighs any tactical shortcomings when compared to Marines or U.S. soldiers. This advantage cannot be overstated.

Brave. The Iraqi soldiers risk their lives to serve their country, and are taking casualties at rate of about four times that of U.S. military.

Resourceful. Like U.S. Marines, the Iraqi Army is making up for lack of resources with ingenuity. They make modifications to their vehicles and personal gear

Unity. The officers of the 3-2-1 MTT speak highly of the Iraqi Army units they are training. They report the soldiers work well together, and sectarian differences are not a factor. “There is no evidence of infighting between the sects; they view themselves as Muslims and Iraqis first,”

Although this is only one IA unit, others are reportedly coming onstream regularly. US military leadership expects the entire IA to be ready for independence by yearend 2007. Maybe that's optimistic, but it's not Pollyanna.

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