Press Briefing, March 5, 2007
Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander, Military Assistant Training Team, March 5
BRIEFING BY BRIGADIER GENERAL TERRY WOLFF,
COALITION MILITARY ASSISTANT TRAINING TEAM
TOPIC: TRAINING AND LOGISTICS OF IRAQI SECURITY FORCES
LOCATION: THE COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER,
TIME: 7:00 A.M. EST
DATE: MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2007
BGEN. WOLFF: Well hello, everybody. How are you? Good.
I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Brigadier General Terry Wolff, and I'm the commanding general of CMATT, and that's a part of General Dempsey's command MNSTC-I, Multinational Stability Transition Command-Iraq. And I work kind of the military aspects of the Iraqi security forces, both the training and logistics.
And so what I'd like to do today is kind of go around the horn and ask you to introduce yourselves. And if you would, if there's any subjects or areas or questions that you'd like to talk about about the institutional training and logistics aspect of the Iraqi security forces, I'm probably the right guy to ask that question to. I've been doing this job for about 10 months now, and I work every day with the Iraqi forces that are training their soldiers, as well as those that are working to build their logistical capability. So I get a fairly good look at what they're doing and how we're helping the Iraqi military train their soldiers. I also deal with the Iraqi navy, and I see them as they're trying to build institutional logistical capacity and capability to train this force over time.
So that's what I'm here to talk to you a little bit about today. I'm happy to talk a little bit about deployability and some of the forces that you've seen come to Baghdad. I'm happy to talk about their future modernization plans, because that is integral to what we do. And I'm also happy to talk more about how they're training their soldiers, and as well as what their plan is towards both the training regimes, if you will, and also what they're trying to do logistically.
So again, I told you who I am. How about let's go this way. How about you?
Q (Off mike.)
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay.
Q And my question that I'd like to raise is regarding the equipping of the Iraqi army.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay.
Q We're hearing reports that they're still not getting access to a lot of essential equipment: helmets, body armor. And I just wanted to know actually what the status of that is.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay, good. We can cover that.
Q Damien Cave from The New York Times. One of the things I'm wondering about is just if you've had experiences with equipment that you've handed over to the Iraqis that are being used for reasons other than what you'd like to see them used for.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay.
Q Lauren Frayer with the Associated Press. I was wondering what the percentage of readiness -- some of the units that are coming to the -- Iraqi units coming to participate in the Baghdad security plan is, and how you're supplementing that. For instance, if a unit shows up at 80 percent readiness, how you get them up to speed.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I think we can do that. And it's really how we're doing it, because the Iraqis are doing most of that. But yeah, I can walk you through that as well.
Q Okay. And also just some general goals, if you have any for the next year for the Iraqi army.
BGEN. WOLFF: Sure. Okay. I think I can get at most of that. If I don't, follow up with another question, if you would.
Q Graham Smith (sp) from NPR. And in addition to the equipping of the military, I'm wondering how things are going in terms of making sure that the equipment they get doesn't end up on the black market.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, kind of the same question.
Q Yeah. And how things are going as far as concerns about infiltration.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah. You're worried about accountability, is what you're asking me about.
Q Yeah. And the other thing is, I'm wondering what you see in terms of real numbers, because, you know, you hear about whether the numbers we see or hear about when something's announced is really the number of folks who show up every day.
BGEN. WOLFF: Sure. And it's very similar to her question. Okay, I think we can talk about that.
How about in the back? Yeah, please? Because I hope there'll be some great questions from our other press as well.
Q (Through interpreter.) Moufid Hamid (sp) from Al-Sumariyah TV. Why the Iraqi army depends on equipment from inside Iraq and you prevent the Iraqi army from going to the training courses outside Iraq. We hope there is ability to establish centers, training centers inside Iraq, like the centers in the Iraq neighbors, for example, Jordan.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay, yeah, very good. I think I can help answer where the Iraqis are being trained at. And you'll see that a great majority of what is happening in terms of training Iraqi soldiers is happening right here in this country. And so I really think that's a good news story, and I'll talk a little more about that.
Q (Through interpreter.) Khalid Hassan (sp) from Voices of Iraq News Agency. My question: Do you think that the Iraqi army needs more power, not the quantity power?
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay. So additional combat powers. I understand. Okay.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- journalist. The Iraqi army needs to a force which backed, which supported it in the checkpoints on the barriers. We didn't notice any U.S. forces and equipment which helped the Iraqi army to do this task.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay.
Q (Through interpreter.) We noticed that the U.S. forces --
INTERPRETER: I couldn't hear the question. I can't hear the question, please.
Q (Off mike.)
INTERPRETER: I can't hear the question.
BGEN. WOLFF: Could you have him repeat that question, please? The translator didn't get it clearly.
Q (Through interpreter.) When the MNF-I operate to support the Iraqi forces through the GPS and surveillance phase.
INTERPRETER: I can't hear the question.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay. Anyone else?
Q (Through interpreter.) Yes, General. My name is -- (name inaudible). I'm the Arabic media coordinator.
INTERPRETER: Al Hurra just walked in.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Al Hurra TV. My question for Brigadier General Wolff: What are the important equipments and the logistical provided to the Iraqi forces, especially related to the IED remote devices with the security plan in Baghdad?
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay. Great. Okay. I think I can answer almost all those questions.
The border question will be a stretch for me, and I'll get you as far as I can on that one.
So here's what I'd like to do very briefly is I'd like to talk to you a little bit about deployability, and I think I can answer a fair number of the questions. But you've given me a good number of additional questions, so it should be a fruitful discussion here back and forth today. And I'd like to encourage you to continue to ask follow-ups as you choose.
Can I have the first slide, please?
I just -- I threw a couple of topics up that I thought I would -- I could talk to as a starting point here. There certainly is lots of discussion about deployability and the strength of the troops that have come into Baghdad as part of Fard al-Qanun or Baghdad security, and some of you heard General Odierno discuss that yesterday as well. The data that he has is very similar to what I have, obviously.
If you remember back, this quarter or since the turn of the calendar year isn't the first time that Iraqi forces have been deployed to Baghdad. I mean, they were here earlier this fall. Some of those units did not do well as they were alerted and told to come to Baghdad. Some of them fractured and didn't even deploy.
So we took a look at what lessons we needed to learn from that experience. MNCI, the corps, sat down, and they took several trips out to the -- to those units to take a look and talk to the leaders regarding what had occurred. Simultaneously, General Dempsey and a number of others sat down with the Iraqi senior leadership and asked the same question. So we sat down and kind of, if you will, conducted an after-action review to determine what lessons there were to learn.
Generally, what we found is that we had mirror-imaged. In other words, we took a look at the Iraqi units as if they were American units and said, you know, if you deployed an American unit to Iraq, you can obviously deploy an Iraqi unit from the north to Baghdad without a problem. And what we realized is that we hadn't helped the Iraqis train themselves for the deployability task.
And so how do you go back and do that? Well, we sat down and put together what we thought was the beginning of a couple of the tenets of the deployability program. Part of that was making sure that you alert the unit at home station so it gets some preparation time to prepare, so that the unit chain of command and also the advisors who are there with them can help begin to prepare them for deploying from their home station and their camps and stations to a different area that they may never have operated in before. Part of that was also to break down the myths associated with deploying from the north to the south or the south to the center of the country.
Part of that time at home station was also to start some retraining, some elementary preparation. So if you're out doing patrols every day and you're now told that you're going to go to Baghdad, if they have you come out of the sector that you are in, you go back to your initial camp, you can do some retraining, some preparation. And then you turn around and then you deploy the unit down the Baghdad, but the next stop isn't ideally the city or right into combat. The next stop is let's take you out to the Besmaya training facility.
Now, the Besmaya facility -- it used to be called Butler Range -- is just outside Baghdad, oh, about 30 kilometers out to the east, and it's a training center that was stood up out of the edge of the desert in 2003. And we've continued with our Iraqi brothers to try to improve that.
And I'll show you a picture of it in a second. But the idea was to bring those units into that training center and then tailor a training plan for them that would last anywhere from five days to 14 days, and then the training plan would be based on the strengths and weaknesses that the unit leadership and the advisers identify. And then you use the range training facilities that are available to allow the units to run through that training regimen. And then that is what has indeed happened for the last four battalions that have come down from different locations in the country. They have gone through Besmaya, and they've done differing amounts of training based on their training needs. And that's a collective call based on, again, what the unit leadership believes they need and also in concert with what the advisers think needs to occur.
So what I'd like to do is I'll go to the next slide.
And I've just given you, oh, a little schematic out there that kind of shows you what the capabilities are of Besmaya. You can see in bold type there that we've got what you would expect at any major training complex. You've got marksmanship opportunities where you allow soldiers to shoot pistols and their rifles. You've also got opportunities for them to shoot their machine guns. And as you can see on the map, if you go from the northwest corner all the way back around, you see the word or the letter "R." It stands for "Ranges." And all those ranges are there for different reasons. Some are there to shoot tanks on and BMPs; some are there to shoot rifles and pistols; others are there to shoot machine guns.
As you come down to where you see the dark green box there, we also have an entry control point live-fire range, where soldiers can practice shooting live-fire entry control point tasks as if they were standing out at any entry control point similar to what you see getting into this portion of Iraq or anywhere else out there on the street. So it allows those young soldiers to practice those skills, to work through rules of engagement and to work through how you deal with escalation of force requirements.
Additionally, out on the kind of the far right-hand side where you kind of see that big dog leg -- just about there -- there's a big convoy live-fire range. And so what you do is you allow soldiers to work convoy live-fire tasks. Well, what does that mean? You put them in their vehicles they will operate in, they move mounted, and there are series of targets out there, different scenarios and target arrays that can be presented to force them to work their way through those requirements. And it's just simple lessons learned, and you get the opportunity to practice it, and then you review it and see how you did and then you get another chance to practice it again.
Training ammunition is made available for the units while they're out there. And then the other thing that we have out there is a what we call a shoot house, and it's a series of buildings, about 11 different buildings. And so the units are allowed and are able to practice clearing rooms and then clearing a single building and then clearing multiple buildings. And so the way you practice that is you go out and make people walk through it. You kind of chalk talk it with the leaders, and then you take the soldiers through and you walk everyone through it. It's just like any sporting event where you're working through the plays. And then you practice going in and taking the squad in and clearing the room, and then you take a little larger force in. You clear a building -- or the squad clears the entire building, and then you try multiple buildings, and then you try the whole complex itself. And we can do that out there in any manner, shape or form. You can do it dry-fire, where no one's shooting anything, or you can do it with blanks, blank-fire, or you can do it completely live. It's adjacent to the entry control point range, so you can also make that a complex task and hook that all together to allow, again, some complex collective task training.
So that's really been what -- one of the major changes since this fall. We've been able to get this whole complex up and running. And what kind of forced our hand or limited us previously is we didn't have much of a place for the soldiers to stay. We hadn't gotten the life support expanded to handle this.
So can I go to the next slide, please?
This is kind of a picture of what the life support complex looks like out at Besmaya Range. And so up on the left side, over here is where the range is, and what you're looking at here is just a life support camp. It will hold about two battalions of Iraqi soldiers simultaneously. That's about 1,500.
And so they can deploy to Besmaya. They've got a place to live. I mean, it's nothing grand or glorious, but it is basically living in meal vans that have been converted, that have beds in them, that have lockers. They have latrine units on the outer edges of them, and they have dining facilities.
And then from that point, you can walk to the shoot house, march to the shoot house, do a tactical movement to the shoot house. It doesn't make any difference. It isn't far away.
So the idea here was to build a complex that could more readily support the collective training of these Iraqi units, not just the ones coming to Baghdad for the operation, but to establish a long-term training plan with a facility that could support it. So that's been one of the things that has really changed since the beginning of the calendar year. We've been able to get the life support set out there, and we're now running Iraqi units through.
So as I said, the last four units have come through. There were two battalions that came through, oh, about a month ago. And then there were two more battalions that many of you reported on that had come down from the north. Those two battalions were out training there until just the other day. And then there's kind of a pause now for units using that facility who are deploying into Baghdad, but there will be more training at the end of March.
And so we'll arrange a trip and get a bunch of you out there so you can take a good look at Iraqi units training. Most of the Iraqi senior leadership has been out there and has met these units that have been out there on the ground. General Babakir, the senior military guy, has been out there. General Abboud, who you all know quite well, from Baghdad General Ali has been out there several times. security has been out there several times.
So again, it's an opportunity for the Iraqi leadership to check the status of training of their soldiers that are being deployed to combat in Baghdad. So we think this is kind of a good news story.
Some of you also asked about, you know, the percentages of forces that have deployed into Baghdad. By my count, since December, there have been nine different units that have deployed to Baghdad. One deployed in December; we'll count that in this for the sake of argument.
And they've all come in at different strengths. Some of the initial units came in. The first unit that came in, it was right at about 50 percent strength. And then some of the others have come in with different percentages of combat power.
So out of those 12 units, I would tell you that two of them came in at about 50 percent strength. Three of them came in, you know, above 50 but less than 70. Two of them came in between 70 and 90, and then five of them came in over 90 percent.
Now what about the most recent ones coming in? Of the last brigade that deployed in, they've come in very well. Of their three units, two of them came in over 100 percent. So that's a good news story: over 100 percent. Yeah. So again, you know, you're authorized X number, and they had more than that X number, more than their authorized number, when they deployed down.
So again, what we're seeing is, again, a little better focus by everybody to get the soldiers to deploy down, and that unit just had a dynamite training rotation out there. The coalition adviser who helps me run Besmaya, you know, gives me evening reports when they're out there training. And I spoke to him in person yesterday, and his comment was, the unit did a dynamite job. And that's a function of chain of command that was engaged, hard-working, and had a thought in their mind where they wanted to take this training.
So I'll kind of stop at the first topic and see if there are any follow-ups anybody wants to do with kind of the deployability in the Besmaya, other than what you had already asked previously. Did that cause any additional questions?
Q What's the -- are all these units the same size?
GEN. WOLFF: Generally, you're seeing Iraqi brigades -- brigade headquarters come down with battalions. And so, you know, you're talking about, you know, 750 guys on average. I mean, I told you, that's what these two satellite camps were built for, about two groups of 750.
Q Right. So the -- all these -- the ones that you just went through at the different percentages -- they're all roughly the same size.
GEN. WOLFF: Yeah, they're -- yeah. There are a couple -- there's a couple of brigade headquarters in there, and they're -- that's smaller. But it's principally you're seeing battalions come down.
Q So how many Iraqi troops total have -- are participating in the Baghdad security plan so far?
GEN. WOLFF: Well, that's hard to answer, because you've got all the 6th Division here already, and you already have the 9th Division. I'd have to come back to you with a number, because I -- you know, I can tell you that the number that have been deployed down -- you're talking over 4,000 now.
But when you're asking me about the total number in Baghdad, I'd have to come back to you on that, because I'd make a mistake.
Q But it's 4,000 additional --
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, exactly. Four thousand additional. And again, in some cases, you know, the question you asked earlier as well is, is there a plan to add to some of the shortages in those units? And the answer is absolutely. And we've done that. We and the Iraqis have done that with many of the units. When they came down -- and they didn't come down at hundred percent strength -- as soldiers graduated from basic training, there were soldiers that were moved into those units as replacements. And that will be the plan here towards the end of March. There will be more soldiers coming out of basic training, and a number of them will be distributed to the units that are in Baghdad.
Q May I ask a follow-up on that?
BGEN. WOLFF: Sure.
Q So these percentages are -- this is really just attendance, I mean, guys showing up. But is there a way to characterize their ability to do the fight beyond just their numbers?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah. It's --
Q Are they 50 percent ready to patrol the streets in Baghdad, even though there are -- (inaudible) -- percent here.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, you're asking me a rule -- you're asking me a question that I can't answer, because I'm not with them day to day. And I'm not sure anyone other than their exact advisers could give you that exact number. I mean, what's important in my mind is that we've set the mechanism in place to get them trained. And so I think every subsequent rotation will get the Besmaya training opportunity. That can only ensure that they're more confident as they go into the fight in Baghdad.
And again, when a unit as been in -- committed into -- you know, into combat in a sector and that's all it's doing day to day, is that, every once in a while it has to be brought out of contact; and it has to be given an opportunity to kind of get re-grained, so it gets a chance to go back and, you know, shoot the weapons on a qualification range, go back and work through some of those combat skills I kind of discussed, because, you know, you're going to have soldiers that will get hurt or wounded, and so you'll have to have a replacement drill. So how do you continue to work through those sorts of tasks?
And it's something that you just don't -- it's something you need to think about, and we always do. But if you're in a unit, you begin immediately to start asking yourself: What's my sustainment training plan? How do I get my unit to go back and continue, you know, improving its combat capability? Because your skills will degrade. Those that you're using every day are going to continue to improve, but a lot of your skills will degrade because you're not using them routinely.
Q Well, in -- I'll wait for the mike before I do this again -- (chuckles) -- I mean, in 14 days there must be limits in what you can actually train these guys to do. And are most of them learning on the job?
BGEN. WOLFF: No, not really. Most of them -- again, I'll say, more importantly, it's a function of that leadership. Where -- in some cases where the unit had not had an opportunity to do much of this type of training, yeah, the learning curve's pretty steep.
This last -- the last unit that came in got a phenomenal amount out of the training because they had the opportunity -- they came in very well trained, so they had the chance to work on the more advanced skills. So if your training level -- you know, since this can be gauged to what you need, it's very adaptable.
The other comment I think I would make to you is that the -- there's such a wide variety of ranges here that you do just about anything. I mean, there are so many firing points that we have set up on some of these ranges that you can get everybody's weapons re-zeroed in a matter of hours, because you have so many firing points. And so, as a result, this capability allows them to kind of then get on the more complex task. You can do advanced marksmanship. You can do sniper training. You can -- they can shoot their mortars.
Additionally, you can work convoy, live-fire skills. You can use the clearinghouse skills. And then you can put different pieces of that together in a more complex scenario.
So -- yes.
Q I'm wondering which of the -- are the troops that you're talking about that came in more well-trained and in bigger numbers folks from the North who would have formerly served in the peshmerga? And they obviously have some different challenges because of language barriers, and I'm wondering if they're being deployed in different ways and how that's working out?
BGEN. WOLFF: Not that I know of. You know, I like to describe them as the Iraqi army, regardless of where they came from. I mean, there have been a couple of units that have come from the North, but they're Iraqi army. I mean --
Q Are these the ones that show up with 90 percent --
BGEN. WOLFF: Not necessarily. We -- it's been mixed. So again, every unit is a little different. And I'll just tell you, it doesn't get down to where they came from as much as it comes down to the quality of the leadership leading that organization. I mean, that is the combat multiplier.
And I am not so concerned, in having talked to these leaders, whether they are from the North or from the South. What's most important is, can they do the combat tasks associated, and can they help with the security requirement here in the city?
STAFF: Sir, a question back here.
BGEN. WOLFF: Please.
Q (Through interpreter.) Who are the forces which will be employed in the Iraqi cities? Do you think these forces will make progress in security plan in Baghdad?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I do. I mean, it is a good question. It is about contributing to the fight. It is about recognizing that these forces, no matter what unit or which brigade they are or what part of -- what division they're from outside of Baghdad, they all have a requirement to contribute.
So yeah, they are contributing. I mean, they are spread all over the city, and they are being integrated into the effort that is marrying, you know, police and coalition forces and Iraqi army forces together. And so that is what is going to -- that's the key to success here.
Please, another question on this, or are you ready to move on to the next topic?
STAFF: Back here, sir.
BGEN. WOLFF: In the back, please, yes sir.
Q Question: About your interest in the senior leadership of the Iraqi forces, what about your trust in the decision-makers of the senior Iraqi leadership on the control-command in the Iraqi army?
BGEN. WOLFF: I mean, I'm encouraged by it. I mean, I see the senior Iraqi leaders several times every week, and as I watch their decision-making and the challenges that they have, I'm encouraged by what they see and what I see as I watch them. I mean, they're making very hard decisions about deploying forces, about the equipping of Iraqi forces, about future modernization decisions for this army and this military.
And they're doing all that while this nation is fighting a war. All that's happening simultaneously. And so I have to be encouraged by the personal courage of those individuals, for they and their families. And I have no reservations based on what I see and how I see them tackling the tough decisions that they have to handle.
So I mean, I'm not sure I would make any different decisions. And our job isn't to question their decisions. It's to enable them to make good, solid, fundamental decisions based on the information. And much of what the command I'm part of does is they also help work with the joint headquarters and the ministry of defense. There are training advisers that are part of those organizations.
And it isn't about them doing things the coalition way or the American way or the British way. It's about helping empower them to do things the Iraqi way. That's what's important, because the systems that the Iraqi joint headquarters and that the minister of defense and his team have to be able to make work are theirs, not ours. And so we spend a lot of time with our folks making sure we understand what the Iraqi system is. And then there are instances in their logistical process, for example, where we might think that there is a particular process that has inefficient steps in it.
So we would lay that out to them the same way with their folks the same we would lay it out to ourselves if we were looking at that process within our army, and then we would try to reengineer and streamline it. And so that's what the advisory partnership gets you, and so that happens all the time up in both in the joint headquarters, at the ground force headquarters, as well as the navy and the air force. There is a wonderful partnership that goes on, and you can't help but have respect for these people as you watch them struggle with the sorts of decisions that they're having to make.
Another question on this. We've strayed a bit off Besmaya, but that's okay.
All right. I'd like to talk a little bit about Iraqi force modernization because someone in the back did ask me a question about, you know, where are they going with all of this and, you know, what's the Iraqi military of the future going to look like.
I would tell you that if we're thinking through what the Iraqi military of, you know, the day after tomorrow is going to look like or the end of 2007, we may have -- we've talked about this before, but it has to do with how the Iraqis are investing in their own future and how they are modernizing their own force. And what they are trying to do is they are trying to add to their combat power and their combat formations, and they're trying to do that through foreign military sales. And let me explain to you what all that means.
We recognized, as did the Iraqis, that they had a great interest in trying to expand their army, and so, as you know, presently there are 10 Iraqi divisions. Nine of those are light divisions designed to fight a counterinsurgency, and one of them is a heavy division, mechanized, got some tanks in it as well. And this past fall, the prime minister and the minister of Defense said, you know, we need to grow this army, and we need to start laying down the plans of how to make the army larger, how to continue modernizing the air force and also do the same thing with the navy.
And as part of that task, the joint headquarters, the minister of Defense took on developing a modernization effort, and it's commonly being called the Prime Minister's Initiative. And it was designed to add several additional division headquarters, as well as a number of combat brigades, and then a bunch of additional battalions. And you've heard us talk about this before. It's about six extra brigades or so and about -- oh, about 20-some battalions. And then those would be positioned at critical points where additional Iraqi combat powers anticipated to be needed over time.
So how do you fund that? And the prime minister recognized that, you know, he needed to accept that burden of responsibility -- or I guess I'm speaking a bit for him and probably shouldn't -- but there was a need for the Iraqis to fund that. And so a modernization case was put together using foreign military sales, and that modernization case was paid for -- or has been paid for by the Iraqi government, the government of Iraq, to the tune of about $800 million for modernization and about $250 million for sustainment. And when you throw a few other things in, it comes out to about a billion and a half dollars. And so a billion and a half dollars of Iraqi money from their defense budget at the end of calendar year `06 was put into the foreign military sales case, and that's being drawn upon to fund these future improvements. It's certainly an indicator and a sign of, you know, their willingness to invest in their future.
And I don't think it'll end there. I mean, the `07 Iraqi budget is being sorted out now, and I expect that in the next week or two they'll start thinking about, "Okay. We've got the plans for `06 working. What do we do for `07 in terms of taking some of the military budget and then focusing that on forces that will grow in `08."
So, I mean, what sort of things does this buy, if you're curious. It buys small arms. I mean, they've indicated a desire to kind of improve some of the rifles and -- that they're carrying. And so there's an effort to buy about 40 battalions' worth of small arms.
And when that was laid out to the minister, he had a choice, you know. He could have picked any type of weapon he wanted. He could have gone with AK-47s or AK-74s or M-16s or M-4s. And he went ahead and made the choice that he would buy M-16s and M-4s. And that was his choice.
Additionally, it's used to buy more humvees. The Iraqis have about 2,400 humvees -- between 2,2(00) and 2,400 humvees on site now. They'll go 2,700 humvees as part of finishing the build of those 10 divisions. And they're buying 343 additionally on their own, and there will be about 400 more that are bought as part of the prime minister's initiative. And so, I mean, that will -- when all is said and done, you'll be talking about 3,200 humvees, all up-armored, which is a good-news story.
Part of that buy will also include some engineer platoons, which will have a thing called the Cougar in it. (To staff.) If I can go to the next slide. There we go. So there's a Cougar or a Badger. It's called both things. And again, there have been about 398 of these purchased. They're flowing in now. The Iraqis are starting to get trained on them. Kind of a big, tall-looking vehicle, as you can tell. Seats eight -- got eight crewmen in the back of it or eight soldiers can easily ride in the back. It's got real thick windows. It gives you a pretty phenomenal protection or very good protection against IEDs. You can see it's got kind of a unique V-shaped hull to it, kind of based on a South African design, lessons learned from the fight the South Africans had down -- with a lot of mines and against the Rhodesians years and years ago.
And so the Marines are buying a version of this, too, that will be used out west. And then you see a lot of our engineers running around in something that looks kind of like this.
So anyhow, 398 have been bought. They're starting to arrive. We're training -- we have a training team up at Taji, where we're training soldiers -- Iraqi soldiers on this. And then the first groups of these will be deployed down to the 6th Division here in Baghdad, starting in a couple of weeks. Like I said, they're up there getting trained on them now, and that's operated trains. They learn how to drive them. It's a pretty large piece of equipment. That also includes maintenance training.
So anyhow, a large number of those things will go to the 6th Division, and then there will be some additional Cougars, Badgers that will be deployed to three additional -- three other divisions.
So this will be a sight in Baghdad you'll see pretty soon. And it's designed to get soldiers to the right point on ground, where then they can operate dismounted and work -- you know, work streets and allies and, you know, be in contact with the people. But it does get them safely to the point of dismount.
Okay? So that's a -- that's one case of some of the things that have been part of this for military sales case. Other things that includes -- in the for military sales case -- you know, other sustainment equipment, more soldier helmets, you know, more flak vests or body armor, if you will, medical equipment, and a whole host of things, as you can well imagine.
It will also include basing for those units that are part of the force I described earlier, because you got to have -- you have to have a place for them to live.
So it will pay for the refurbishment of old facilities or building of any new facilities that are required as these units are positioned around Iraq.
So in our mind, this is about an investment for the future. I talked a little bit about the sustainment monies that will go into this, and then there are -- there's about $250 million in the sustainment case, which will help purchase ammunition, help purchase some spare parts, help potentially purchase some maintenance service, if that's required.
And there's also been a(n) FMS case done for the minister of Interior, too, that General Hunsicker (sp), when you get him back in here, can talk a lot about as well.
So any questions about that? I mean, someone's got to have a question, I'm sure.
Q Well, why do you think they went with AK-47s versus -- I mean, with M16s versus AK-47s, when they're so familiar with them and they may be cheap?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I'm not sure. They went out and tested them. We took them out and they test-fired them. So we had them all sitting there and went out to the range one Saturday and took the minister of Defense and General Babakir and others out there and said, okay, we're -- you pick which one you want. So we had a lot of different weapons, and they shot them all, and they decided they wanted those.
And so we'll gear them up to get them there now. And that'll probably be -- you know, I said 40 battalions' worth; that will be the first buy; there'll probably be more, because you've got over a hundred battalions in the army. So some of those weapons will start arriving in late March and then more in April, and then about, you know -- in follow-on intervals, they'll start arriving. It'll be this year through the end of the year -- probably about 30,000 weapons is the number that I -- the figure I have.
Q And what do you figure -- I'm sorry. What do you figure happens with the AK-47s that they'll displace? Because I know there's a lot of concern both about weapons that have been seized and --
BGEN. WOLFF: Sure. Well, it'll be accounted both ways. So the training plan and the issue plan that's being developed, if you will, the modernization plan for this, there'll be accountability of the old weapons. They'll be turned back in, serial numbers will be checked, confirmed with, you know, the records that have been kept heretofore, and then the M16s, the M4s will be issued out. So, you know, weapons -- accountability will be maintained at least on the receipt of old weapons being turned in and then the issuing out of new weapons, and that will be an Iraqi plan that is being put together presently, because you just don't hand someone a new weapon and say, okay, have fun. You got to go out and shoot it. You've got to go out and get it -- you basically have to go out and get it zeroed so that the sites refer to your -- the way you hold the weapon. So there's a training plan that goes along with that, and we're working that with the Iraqis presently.
Q (Through interpreter.) About the IED devices -- with Fard al-Qanun now in Baghdad, do you tell us about the IED discovery devices and when it will be here in Baghdad?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I sure can. It's going to take us until the fall. There are plans right now -- and the training has started -- to train two engineer platoons per Iraqi division, and that training has started up at the engineer school. And the equipment for that will start arriving in late summer into the fall. So there will still be a bit of dependence on the coalition for a while, but over time, as we get into the fall, that will take -- those engineer platoons will take the place, we think, of some coalition forces, which should enhance the capability.
There will be two types of vehicles used with those engineer platoons. There will be up-armored humvees and then there will also be Badgers, and the Badgers will have an interrogation arm on it to help look for IEDs. So it's a good start, in our mind. It's just going to take us until the fall to get those platoons totally equipped.
But the soldiers in the platoons and the leaders are being formed and being trained now on some initial training equipment, and then we will continue working that. They will also be issued the Marbot (sp), the little black robot that the engineers use to, you know, go out with a camera on it to take a look for IEDs.
Now, each of the Iraqi divisions also has a bomb disposal company. And those companies have all been trained to U.N. standards, both level 3 and level 4, for, you know, ordnance on the battlefield, and that's done down at the bomb disposal school, which is down south now, and that school will relocate up to Besmaya to get it more centrally positioned in the country, and that will happen by late summer.
But all those bomb disposal companies have been through two complete iterations of bomb-disposal training to U.N. standards. And we would liken those, you know, to EOD companies, Explosive Ordnance (Disposal) companies, in the coalition.
Another question, please?
Okay, I'll go to the next slide, then.
Take me to the next one. Okay, how about one more? There we go.
You asked a little bit about training. And this is a little bit hard to see. But what I can tell you is that when you take a good look at this slide, this is where training is occurring in the Iraqi military on any given day. On the 26th of February, there were about 15,000 Iraqi soldiers training -- meaning they were out training in the institutional training base. Now, they're training at a whole different range of locations. If you look at kind of the light green up there, the light green there, there and there, and there and there, there are four Iraqi military academies. One's up at Zakho, one's at Qualachulon up in the north, one is at Rustamiyah, and then the fourth one, which is newly opened, is down at a place called Camp Orh (sp), not far from Nasiriyah. So the training that occurs there is -- it's completely Iraqi-run. It's based on a Sandhurst model out of Great Britain. The cadets train there for a year. They graduate about 600 to 700 every six months.
And then when the lieutenants come out of that training, they are -- as I said, they're graduated as lieutenants, and then they go to their basic courses. And in January of this year, the Iraqis started a "proof in principle" effort to send those newly commissioned lieutenants on for additional training. If they're one of the seven technical branches, they're going to their branch school -- signals school, engineer school. If they are armor or infantry lieutenants, they're now going back out to Besmaya range -- my favorite spot there. And if you remember up in the northeast corner, there was a little complex and it's called the Combined Arms School. They like to refer to it as the Infantry School. But those lieutenants, about a hundred-and-some of them are up there now going through about six weeks of, if you will, tactical training to perfect their skills before they go out and are assigned as platoon leaders out in the Iraqi force.
This is kind of the next step of quality that we're talking about in terms of, you know, continuing their training, making sure these young officers are proficient both technically and tactically to accomplish what they're going to deal with out in the street.
In the darker green on the slide you'll see a lot of other training sites. And you asked about replenishing the forces that were here as part of Baghdad security. Well, many of the young soldiers are going through basic training right now, and there are about 7,000 that are in basic training, and many of them will graduate the end of March and then they will be integrated into the units based on a distribution plan that the Iraqi M-1, or the personnel folks put together. So the divisions will get a fair share of those guys, but some of those soldiers will be targeted to join units that are already here in Baghdad.
Additionally, there are three training battalions in this force, and the training battalions are putting and are preparing soldiers for those units I described in the prime minister's initiative. So that training is ongoing as well.
So all total, about 15,000 soldiers training. You know, we've been as low as 6,000 at different cycles, based on whether we've got basic training running heavily or not, up to 15,000 is the highest I've seen. Every single one of these schools and centers is led and run by an Iraqi leader. The guy who runs their training and doctrine command is an Iraqi two-star. All the military academies are led by a flag officer. Most of the training centers are led by a lieutenant colonel or colonel -- all Iraqi-led. All Iraqi-led.
Additionally, they've got a Joint Staff College which is running for high order training. It's running a junior and senior course, besides all of those military academies that I've described. So they're committed to high order training. We're working with the Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command to help put together some other functional schools, like a school for company commanders, a school for battalion commanders, a school for brigade commanders. Those are things that are out there on the horizon. So it's a pretty significant commitment to continuing to train this army, and not only the army, but the navy and also the air force because they're part of these joint schools as well.
Okay, did that spark any questions?
Q Yeah --
BGEN. WOLFF: Please.
Q -- the effort to incorporate some members of the formal military in, is that a separate track? If you could just talk a little bit about how that's going and what happens with these folks and how they've been accepted so far.
BGEN. WOLFF: As you begin to build new units and as you expand this training system, like the Iraqis did this fall, you very quickly start to run out of leaders. I mean, you know, you're running out of mid-grade officers and non-commissioned officers.
So what the Iraqi Joint Headquarters has done is they have gone back to and advertised -- which you may have seen on television -- they've advertised to encourage former members of the military to consider coming back in. Now, when those senior officers -- I can't say "senior" -- but when those mid-grade officers and NCOs volunteer to do that, they have to come back in and they have to basically join, and then they put them through a program of instruction to try to, you know, welcome them back into the new Iraqi army.
And then they will distribute or assign them out to where they're needed. A fair number have gone into the training base to help with the expansion that occurred last fall. Additionally, there are efforts ongoing now to recall others to try to fill some of the technical needs they have out there.
So, you know, there are certainly some of them who answer the call but then never show up, and then there are some that answer the call, show up and decide it's not for them. But the majority, from what I can see in the training base, which is where I spend most of my time, there's no real difficulty getting them incorporated. And when you look at that -- I was down at their armor school the other day, and they were mostly former members. But tanking is still tanking. You know, being on a personnel carrier and teaching that to young soldiers, it doesn't make any difference where you came from; either you can do that or you can't. Either you understand the piece of machinery and you can teach it or you can't. And didn't see any issues there.
Their discussions with -- you know, that we were having were the sort of discussions that I would have at Fort Knox, Kentucky with a bunch of senior non-commissioned officers.
Q Do you have a number on how many have come in to assess it?
BGEN. WOLFF: They did a recall -- or not a recall, but they did and advertised in the fall. And they initially brought in -- they had feelers for about 800, and I think they got about 500 and some. But we'll check the number for you. And that was specifically to go in to help them expand the training base, and they may very well have to do that again. I mean, you heard the prime minister yesterday talk a little bit about that, and we'll have to see what that means.
But they're always looking for and they're targeting technical -- folks with technical skills because we know we also have to together -- put together this logistical system at the higher levels. And so the tactical logistics that you see reported out on the street and in terms of how units can effectively, you know, supply themselves, feed themselves, get fuel moved -- that's tactical logistics. That's going okay. It's the higher-level logistics that we're now focusing on and trying to get and help them with that.
It's building a national depo, which I've talked about before, which is both a supply depo and a maintenance depo. And it is also about, you know, giving them the ability to have the command and control to track commodities of supply and reorder things automatically when humvees are blown up or things are destroyed. How do you reorder that and get that through your logistical system?
Q Back to the percentages thing. When a unit comes in to Baghdad to participate in those security plans at 75 percent, let's say, do you take soldiers from another unit and supplement that to bring it to a hundred and then get them going, or do they go out without --
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, some of that may happen before they come down here that we might not even see. I mean, they're encouraged to do appropriate cross-leveling as they choose. So if you have one unit that's 120 percent and a unit that's 90, it would make sense that you cross-leveled to get that unit up to speed.
Some of that happens, and we don't see all that. I mean, that's what they're supposed to be doing in that initial phase of depoyability -- looking and trying to figure out: Do we have all of our soldier equipment and kit, is everybody qualified on their weapons, do our vehicles run, are we ready to deploy them down south, and you know, have we cross-leveled our personnel numbers. So some of that we don't see. That's what they're doing up there.
When units come down here and then they get into -- get to Besmaya, what we have done is we -- where we have identified -- and that's "we" collectively with the Iraqis -- where we have identified shortages and, let's say, broken helmets or body armor that's no longer serviceable, we have pushed -- and again, the collective -- we have pushed things from the Taji national depo out to those units. Someone in here asked about that.
And so we've, again, identified what are they missing, what's broken, what's no longer serviceable, and can we get that equipment replenished before they go into combat. And we've put a big push on to do that, and so, you know, several -- about 70 palettes of equipment went out to resupply one unit. It arrived in the middle of the night, and they just lined everybody up and they issued people the gear that they needed; took the unserviceable gear and issued the other out.
So there's an effort to try to make sure that these soldiers, as they're going into Baghdad, are at their most, you know, most ready point, if possible.
Q What has been the main issue with actually issuing these -- the soldiers with the equipment? I mean --
GEN. WOLFF: I think the biggest problem -- the biggest challenge has been the fact that as gear becomes unserviceable -- you know, if you're using it and you're using it all the time, and it wears out on you or just becomes unserviceable, I mean, how do you get it replenished? How do you replace it? And the challenge is, the Iraqi log system is just standing up to be able to do that now.
And so in a way, it's a good news story. As part of one of the FMS cases before the minister right now, of defense, it's to stand up a case that starts purchasing a lot of that. But heretofore, they haven't had much of that in their system. So they've been relying on the coalition for a great bit of that, and we're at that transition point where their money is now going to start purchasing that. But as you get their system stood up, there isn't much in the queue yet.
So it's just starting. The orders are just starting to get dropped, and then you've kind of got the time from order until the equipment arrives. It's not immediate. It's going to take a little bit of time.
Q My understanding is that it's not a problem with the actual equipment being here. It's just a question of actually getting it to the troops.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yes. I mean, a unit chain of command has got to be able to do that. If we can get the equipment to the chain of command, they've got to be able to distribute it. And so -- I mean, I'm not hearing of problems of it not getting distributed once we get it to them, but maybe you are, but I'm not aware of that.
We've had trouble at times getting it -- you know, if we find out very late in the deployment cycle that they need the equipment, then the question is, do you send it north or south to where the unit is, and you risk them not receiving it in enough time to get distributed, or just wait until they get down here? And so in some instances, we've just waited. We've kept it at Taji Depot. It stayed there when they went to Besmaya; then we pushed it down to Besmaya. A lot easier, and then, you know, then you issue it out and they go into training with it. So that's been a preferred course of action.
Q I was wondering about -- General Odierno talked about -- there were seven units that basically were seen to be broken that needed retraining. I think he said four of the three had been retrained so far. I'm wondering if you can talk about that a little bit.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah.
Q And also, where are the three units that have not been retrained? What are they doing right now?
BGEN. WOLFF: I didn't hear his comments on that, so I don't know which interview that was from, so I mean --
Q It was last week here.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah. I didn't hear that. I mean, I heard his comments yesterday on one of the media outlets, so I've got to apologize then.
Q Just quick --
BGEN. WOLFF: Oh, quick-look sort of inspections?
Q Yeah, quick-look --
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I don't know where the inspections were done.
Q Those were national police.
Q Oh, I'm sorry.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay. Well, I can help you a little bit.
The -- what is happening with the minister of interior is that there was a decision to bring each of the national police brigades out of the line in Baghdad and to bring them down to Numaniyah -- right there -- to bring them down to An Numaniyah, where they would go through a month of retraining. And the program was designed so that you would re-vet the leaders and make sure that you had a good set of leaders in the organization. You would then take them out of the line in Baghdad. You would move them down to Numaniyah. You would put them through four weeks of training.
At the same time, you would do some good, quality maintenance on their equipment, their vehicles and things of that sort -- you know, do services on your vehicles. And then after that month's worth of training, they would graduate, and you would issue them the new blue uniforms. Back out they would go.
And then they, you know, get leave there and be able to do that. And then you would recommit them back into battle space. So I know they've done three of the brigades. It may have gone up to a fourth by now. I've kind of lost track of the national police. But that was the intention. So the intention was to do just that.
And as far as I know, it's going very well. I mean, I'm down at Numaniyah once or twice a month, and the police are always down there training. And that -- they're training one of the areas on the camp, and there are number of other areas where we've got Iraqi basic training going on and other training.
So again, you know, if you keep in mind that these units have been in combat for a long time and -- it just gives you the chance to kind of stop, take a breather, look at your leaders, look at your equipment, retrain and then recommit the force. So a good, smart step.
STAFF: Sir, we have time for one more question.
BGEN. WOLFF: Okay, one more. Okay, go ahead. You aren't going to ask me another percentage question, are you?
Q No. (Chuckles.)
BGEN. WOLFF: All right.
Q Sadr City -- can you give us any details on U.S.-Iraqi coordination?
BGEN. WOLFF: No, not other than what you've already really been told from, you know, General Caldwell. I'm not out there in Sadr City, so I don't -- I can imagine what's going on. I know that -- I saw the number -- about a thousand soldiers out. And again, it's establishing with the same sort of joint security stations, where you're going to set up a station that will involve the police, that will involve the Iraqi military, and it will involve the coalition. And so that's the power in all this, where you put those three elements together in a command and control setup that works pretty well. And again, it's about presence.
Q Just --
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, go ahead. Sure.
Q Just -- (off mike) -- the mike for -- just, if you guys -- I don't know if you can talk a little bit more about accountability. I mean, there was this case in Basra yesterday, as you know, with some Iraqi security forces being -- with evidence of them torturing some detainees.
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah.
Q And how do you prevent that? And what's being done to make sure that the equipment isn't used for such things?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah. Well, I mean, it's probably a better question to ask the British down there. But again, you know, control of and treatment of detainees is -- it's just important. And you can't walk away from reports of detainees being abused and/or -- you know, allegations of it has to be investigated. And if the investigation requires you to get control of the facility, then that's what you have to do. I mean, I again have seen the same reports that you have. But you just -- it cannot be ignored. I mean, we're required to take appropriate steps, and so that's what I believe the Brits did, based on the reporting that I have seen, and you would expect nothing less.
I mean, if there are allegations of abuse of any type of detainee, whether the coalition has picked him up or whether the Iraqis have picked him up or anyone on that team, it's going -- you're going get to control of the situation, and then you're going to investigate what happened. I mean, we're just required to do that, and it's about proper treatment of captured personnel. So it doesn't surprise me that they would do that.
You asked about accountability of weapons. I mean, that's really difficult. I mean, you have visibility on units because you are with those units, and it's about proper employment of things and it's about control. But you're not with every single Iraqi soldier 100 percent of the time, just like you're not with, you know, a coalition soldier 100 percent time. There is some faith that goes into that as well. And again, if you see something that is wrong as a leader, we're required to stop it. It's simple as that.
Well, in summary, I'd like to thank you today. I hope I've helped a little bit to try to talk to some degree kind of about the deployability program, secondarily a little bit about, you know, how the Iraqis are investing in their future, because that's really encouraging. I mean, that is awfully encouraging. And they have a vision of where they want to go. And whether it's the, you know, the army in the big cases I've mentioned or the navy, where they're buying patrol boats and they're buying patrol ships and off the shore vehicles -- I mean, they have a plan of where they want to take this military of theirs, and that's very encouraging. But it's all a function of, you know, how well we're starting these soldiers and sailors and airmen off in the Iraqi military. And that starts with good institutional training, and then an institutional logistics base that can support a military that's fighting a war.
And so that's what I've tried to highlight a little bit today, kind of -- I talked a little bit about the log, more about the institutional training. Another session I'll come back, where we can do logistics as well.
Our public affairs folks will wrangle a trip. We can get you out to some of these places. I'd love to get you out to Besmaya so that you can see that. We'd like to do it when we have an Iraqi battalion or two out there training. That's the right time to go.
But there are always other units out there training. There have been units of the 9th Tank Division or 9th Mechanized Division out there training recently from their 3rd Brigade, out doing tank gunnery and other gunnery. So there's always something going on out there. But we'd like to get you out there when there's a large group.
So I guess I thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
Q Thank you.
Q Thank you.
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