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Iraqi National Guard (ING)

In January 2005 all Iraqi National Guard units in Iraq were absorbed into the sovereign nation's new army. At that time, the National Guard ceased to exist as a separate element of the Iraqi Army.

On 20 June 2004, with the concurrence of the Interim Iraqi Government, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) was redesignated as the Iraqi National Guard (ING). This represented a shift from the initial plans of the Interim Iraqi Government to leave the Iraq Civil Defense Corps as a largely passive defense force.

As the ICDC transitioned to the ING, US military units were ordered to expand their efforts to train and equip the new ING forces. The US Army's 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division in particular devoted a significant amount of resources to establishing these units. In the city of Tikrit, units of the 1st Infantry Division, US Army designed a 3-week course that included training on rifle marksmanship, conduct of traffic checkpoints, map reading, basic drill, and first aid. The ING soldiers continued to improve their skills as they conducted joint missions with Coalition forces. Iraqi Colonel Shaker Faris Al Azawi, commander of the 203rd ING Battalion, commented, "Our relationship with the Coalition forces is very good. They give us ammunition, supplies, vehicles, and experience, and the training they've given us is very important. Because of it, we're operating at a very high level." In addition to providing training to the ING, the 1st Infantry Division, US Army, with support from Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq's (MNSTC-I) nascent logistics structure, was instrumental in fielding equipment to the new ING units.

In Baghdad the 1st Cavalry Division, US Army conducted similar ING training missions. Soldiers in the Division conducted a 10-day leadership academy that taught basic combat skills, followed by a command post exercise for the battalion leadership. Colonel Mike Murray, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, recalled stressing the importance of the NCO Corps to the Iraqi officers who, as stated earlier, had little experience in delegating authority and responsibility to lower-level leaders. Murray estimated that approximately 48 US officers and NCOs from his brigade worked and patrolled with the ING on a daily basis. The 2nd Brigade Comabt Team, 1st Cavalry Division embedded a number of Soldiers with the 303rd ING Battalion, and eventually the Iraqi unit became so effective in patrolling and other missions that Coalition forces assigned it a separate AOR in the capital, in which it conducted operations without US advisors in 2004. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Efflandt, the XO of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, attributed part of the 303rd ING Battalion's success to its commander, Colonel Mohammad, who Efflandt described as "a good guy and a good warrior." Efflandt also believed that American training and mentoring was a critical part of the formula for success with Iraqi units.

The 1st Infantry Division, United States Army hosted a ceremony on 10 July 2004 for the first class of Iraqi National Guard soldiers to graduate from the Iraqi National Guard Training Academy in Tikrit. Previously, training had been done "in house" by the separate ING battalions. The 309 graduates completed the 20-day course taught by both coalition and Iraqi instructors. The course was designed after United States Army basic training. ING recruits were instructed on how to wear their uniform, military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremony, as well as basic rifle marksmanship. However, instruction was based on the Iraqi Army's marching, saluting, and even weapons familiarization on the AK-47. Recruits were also taught first aid, personnel and vehicle search, as well as Individual Movement Techniques. The soldiers were recruited by separate battalions throughout the 1st Infantry Division, United States Army's area of responsibility. Each battalion was allocated a certain number of slots per class.

The Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Police, 2 of the 4 Iraq Security Forces, marked a major milestone together early 18 July 2004. For the first time, the Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi police worked together on a large-scale operation to search for insurgents involved in a recent attack that resulted in one IP officer killed and two others wounded. About 90 Iraqi National Guard soldiers from the 304th Battalion cordoned off a large area of an Al Rashid neighborhood while almost 300 Iraqi Police officers searched for the insurgents. The Iraqi National Guard ran several temporary traffic control points along a major road in the area to make sure the neighborhood search went undisturbed while the Iraqi Police searched the homes. Several illegal weapons were seized by the Iraqi Police during the operation.

The feeling of the US Army by January 2005, was that if the ING became more tactically proficient under American tutelage in 2004, many of its units remained hamstrung by equipment and supply problems caused by the lack of logistical infrastructure in the emerging Iraqi defense sector. American forces often filled the needs to make their Iraqi counterparts operational. Colonel Mike Murray, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, recalled spending considerable time and effort to provide vehicles, radios, weapons, ammunition, and vehicle armor. The 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team did likewise and that effort prompted Lieutenant Colonel Scott Efflandt, that unit's XO, to conclude that the Iraqi nonexistent logistics base was the greatest hindrance to the ING's effectiveness. After his Brigade Combat Team made great effort to provide helmets and uniforms, the 303rd ING Battalion began to look like and act more like professional soldiers. Efflandt recalled, "As we invested interest in them, they took off."

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