Sons of Iraq
Government efforts to pay the approximately 94,000 SOI personnel, predominately Sunnis, and integrate them into long-term employment (20 percent with state security agencies and 80 percent with civil ministries) were stalled in late 2009 in advance of the March 2010 parliamentary elections. Prior to this period, the government had transitioned 43 percent of the approximately 95,000 SOI members into the ISF or various civil ministries. During the elections the government put the transition of the SOI into civilian and Iraqi security forces jobs on hold to afford extra security during and after the elections. Security needs during government formation extended this pause in SOI transition.
A history of pay problems and slow transition to other employment, although coincidental, contribute to negative perceptions among the SOI. Despite these delays the government continued to support the Sons of Iraq. Since May 2009 the government has been responsible for paying all SOI salaries, and timeliness continued to improve. In two of the last four months of the year (September and December), the SOI were paid early, with only minor delays in four provinces in October and November. Other recent government actions to address the problem included establishing a joint interagency coordination center for the SOI, more timely payments, and the creation by the prime minister of a committee focused on how best to promote successful SOI integration. In addition, the government's draft 2011 budget included $195 million for salaries and other payments for the SOI. Suspected government targeting and arrest of SOI personnel for alleged previous terrorist activity continued to be a point of tension between the Sunni population and the government.
SoI transitions to the ISF and civil ministries was delayed in early 2010 in order to maintain SoI as an added measure of security through the formation of the new government. Prior to the GoIís decision to delay transitions, over 40% of identified SoI had been transitioned into the ISF or various civil ministries. The SoI who had not yet transitioned remain under GoI control and were paid through the Iraqi Army (IA) in all but Anbar Province, where the IP maintain payment responsibility. US Forces continued to encourage the GoI to bring SoI payments up-to-date. By mid-2010, the SoI had received their pay only through March 2010. The GoI repeatedly stated its intentions of making a double payment at the beginning of June for April and May service. On May 30, 2010, representatives from the the MoF, the Implementation and Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation (IFCNR), and the Office of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintigration (DDR) met to solve persistent pay problems. As a result of the meeting, the MoF transferred all funds for 2010 SoI salaries to DDR. This new pay procedure should remove an estimated two weeks of bureaucratic and administrative processing from each pay period.
The GoI reported they have transitioned 30,476 Baghdad SoI into GoI ministry positions. Initially, the GoI goal was to transition all Baghdad SoI into government positions by the end of 2009. These transitions were delayed, however, until after the March 2010 elections, and again until government formation, in order to maintain SoI as an added measure of security. The GoI also stated its intent to bring back a limited number of former SoI from their ministry jobs to man security checkpoints and provide intelligence on a voluntary and temporary basis. By PM Order, 80% of SoI placements will be in civilian ministries and 20% will be with the ISF. By mid-2010, more than 13,000 of the SoI placed had been with the ISF. IFCNR was working closely with each of the provincial governments to execute plans that fit the needs of the provincial agencies.
Vocational programs, originally initiated with MoLSA, had not gained traction within the GoI. Since transition began, the ministries have handled SoI training programs internally, mainly honing skills necessary for their current jobs.
The Sunni community remained concerned about SoI leader arrests, attacks by AQI insurgents, late payment of salaries, and halted transitions to permanent government jobs. In key leader engagments with IFCNR and other GoI officials, USF-I focused on these issues. Insurgent groups, including AQI, seek to diminish the effectiveness of SoI through targeting, intimidation, and infiltration. The extent of infiltration varies by region.
Daughters of Iraq (DoI) continued to support local IP checkpoints in Diyala. The DoI do not carry weapons, but are stationed at checkpoints in pairs to conduct searches of females for weapons and explosives. USF-I still holds the DoI contract, but is working with IFCNR to transfer responsibility in accordance with the GoIís request.
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