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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part III

Toward the Objective: Building a New Iraq

Chapter 11
Training the Iraqi Security Forces


The ICDC Becomes the Iraqi National Guard

Coalition units had committed a significant amount of time and resources in 2003 and 2004 to stand up the ICDC as a vital support to Coalition forces. But as the IIG assumed control of the nation in June 2004, the future of this poorly trained support force became unclear. CJTF-7 had established the ICDC units primarily to assist its forces with domestic security and reconstruction efforts, but their duties quickly evolved to include military operations against the insurgency. In recognition of the need to provide better training and Iraqi control, on 22 April 2004 CPA Order No. 73 transferred authority of the ICDC to the Ministry of Defense. This move was part of the reorganization of the ISF and the Coalition command structure that controlled that process.176 On 20 June 2004, with the concurrence of the IIG, the ICDC was redesignated as the Iraqi National Guard.

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 1st ID and the 1st CAV in particular devoted a significant amount of resources to establishing these units. In the city of Tikrit, units of the 1st ID 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 203d 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.”177 In addition to providing training to the ING, the 1st ID, with support from MNSTC-I’s nascent logistics structure, was instrumental in fielding equipment to the new ING units.

In Baghdad the 1st CAV 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 CAV’s 3d BCT, 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.178 The 2d BCT of the 1st CAV embedded a number of Soldiers with the 303d 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 2d BCT, attributed part of the 303d Battalion’s success to its commander, Colonel Mohammad, who Efflandt described as “a good guy and a good warrior.”179 But Efflandt also believed that American training and mentoring was a critical part of the formula for success with Iraqi units.

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. Murray recalled spending considerable time and effort to provide vehicles, radios, weapons, ammunition, and vehicle armor.180 The division’s 2d BCT did likewise and that effort prompted Efflandt to conclude that the Iraqi nonexistent logistics base was the greatest hindrance to the ING’s effectiveness. After his BCT made great effort to provide helmets and uniforms, the 303d ING Battalion began to look like and act more like professional soldiers. Efflandt recalled, “As we invested interest in them, they took off.”181

Chapter 11. Training the Iraqi Security Forces

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