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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

 

Equipment and Facilities

Problems with logistics and equipment plagued the ISF in 2003 and 2004. The Iraqi Government had not yet developed the capacity to supply its forces with the immense requirements for weapons, supplies, vehicles, uniforms, ammunition, barracks, and countless other items needed to combat the insurgency. In March 2004 the CPA’s Provost Marshal’s Office reported that the IPS was operating at 41 percent of authorized vehicles, 63 percent of uniforms, 43 percent of pistols, and only 9 percent of protective vests. The CPA also confirmed that the ICDC was behind schedule in body armor, uniforms, vehicles, radios, and weapons.202 MNSTC-I’s troop-to-task analysis, completed in the summer of 2004 took these reports into consideration and led the Coalition to substantially increase the size of the budget for equipping all types of ISF units. Progress took time, however, and as late as the fall of 2004 US advisors encountered the most basic shortages. Major Jeffrey Allen, an advisor to the NIA in 2004, recalled the serious implications of the equipment and supply shortages and an Iraqi logistical infrastructure still in its infancy:

I had issues like the fact we did our first 3 weeks of basic training without socks. No socks. So you have a culture where these guys have never, most of them, worn anything but sandals in their lives—and now they’re wearing combat boots, brand new combat boots that have to be broken in. After about 3 weeks, half of my soldiers either quit or were walking around in sandals conducting basic training, because their feet were bloody messes. . . . So you see the second- and third-order of effects of the broken logistical system, and if we would have had a logistical system inherent to CMATT, it could have solved a lot of these problems.203

Given the critical impact of these issues in creating a viable ISF, MNSTC-I prioritized the creation of a supply system and the training of Iraqi units and higher commands on logistical issues.

When notified that he was taking command of MNSTC-I, Lieutenant General Petraeus requested six contracting officers and six Class A agents from DOD to help deal with the immense logistical challenges. Petraeus additionally asked for $40 million to be reprogrammed into a Quick Reaction Fund (QRF).204 The MNSTC-I team came to rely on the Defense Logistics Agency and the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence to deliver quality projects on time and within budget in support of the emerging Iraqi defense establishment.205

If supplying US forces that supported the MNSTC-I mission was a challenge, working with the Iraqi Government was an equally formidable task. As a sovereign nation, Iraq had the responsibility, but not the capability, to equip the nation’s troops. After 28 June 2004 the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for MNSTC-I had to ensure that IIG officials signed all contracts for the procurement of weapons and equipment.206 Although the United States, Coalition partners, and other donor nations provided the vast majority of the funding for the ISF, MNSTC-I attempted to transfer responsibility to the IIG for the provision of its own forces. However, determining how to allocate money between the construction of new security forces, sustainment systems, and operational funds used to fight the insurgency was not an easy problem to solve. Colonel Richard O. Hatch, MNSTC-I SJA, gave an example of the funding dilemma:

When we were sending the Special Police Commandos into Samarra and they were going to stay there for several months . . . we assumed that the sustainment costs would come out of the operations and maintenance accounts from the Iraqi Government. Well, . . . most [Iraqis] were kind of looking to us. But we said, ‘If we do that, if we expend those funds for operations, we are not going to have the money to do the training or the initial supply of units that are scheduled to stand up in the future.’207 The choice was a difficult one between immediate needs and building future capacity; nevertheless, the MNSTC-I staff attempted to achieve compromise with its Iraqi counterparts.

Working with the new Iraqi Government to stand up the combat service support systems that would provide basic provisions for the ISF proved to be exceedingly difficult as well. The MNSTC-I staff assisted the US Embassy advisors working with Iraqi ministry officials to ensure they were purchasing the correct equipment and in the correct quantities for those systems. The Coalition assisted with the construction of a huge national depot in Taji to receive the supplies coming in from Baghdad International Airport. This facility provided the physical storage for the supplies, but the space had to be matched with a cataloging system to make it available to the ISF distribution system. Not surprisingly, the cataloging system introduced by the Coalition was new for the Iraqis and logistics personnel had to be trained to use the system.208 But, as Major Levesque, an officer involved in establishing the ISOF logistics staff, recalled, there was a basic cultural gap between American expectations and Iraqi experience with logistical systems and record keeping: “It was the things that are common knowledge to us—things we do every day—that these guys just didn’t have any concept of. We’re talking about crawl, walk, run, and we were pretty much [in 2004] just at the crawl stage with these guys. The Iraqi logistics staff [for the ISOF] probably consisted of no more than three or four guys at that stage.”209 As Levesque implied, the efforts in 2004 were just the very beginning of the MNSTC-I’s efforts to introduce a modern method of providing basic support services to a new professional army.

Despite the obstacles, MNSTC-I did make some early headway in arming and equipping the ISF. The Saddam regime had stored literally millions of tons of munitions, but most of its equipment was outdated or stolen by looters when Saddam’s army left their barracks and depots wide open during the invasion of March and April 2003. Still available, however, were stores of AK-47 Assault Rifles, and CMATT decided to arm the security forces with AK-47s because the Iraqis were familiar with them.210 Although police forces are not normally equipped with powerful assault rifles, the MNSTC-I leaders considered the security environment and decided to issue the IPS and other police organizations the AK-47s as well.211 The ISF received more specialized equipment, including French armored vehicles donated by one of the Gulf States, and nonstandard tactical vehicles such as pickup trucks and Land Rovers. Over time, the IIG ordered or refurbished more wheeled and tracked armored vehicles.

In addition to the border forts, police stations, and other operational facilities, MNSTC-I had the task of coordinating the reconstruction of the basic infrastructure of the ISF. A simple but critical example was the huge kitchen facility built at the An Numaniyah Military Training Base. The new kitchen allowed the cooking staff to consolidate the satellite kitchens to provide tens of thousands of meals per day to the Iraqi trainees and staff. Not only did the kitchen facility provide for the Iraqi recruits, it also employed an estimated 1,300 Iraqis and provided a significant boost to the local economy.212

By January 2005 the Coalition military command had facilitated the issuing of hundreds of thousands of pistols, machineguns, vehicles, uniforms, ammunition, and other equipment to both Ministries of Defense and Interior forces. In addition, MNSTC-I provided for and supervised the renovation of hundreds of buildings including training facilities, barracks, police stations, headquarters, and border forts. The scope of MNF-I’s ISF effort was staggering, and the amount of money spent on the numerous projects equally striking. During its first 2 years, MNSTC-I expended approximately $11 billion on equipment, construction, training, weapons, salaries, and a host of other requirements.213 Petraeus compared the scale of his work as commander of MNSTC-I with his experience leading the 101st ABN in 2003:

The 101st Airborne Division, with all the capabilities that we had in that first year that we were up in Mosul, had $53.6 million in Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds for reconstruction. We did over 5,000 projects with that, little ones obviously. Then in MNSTC-I, we did some that were several hundred million dollars over time. These are just enormous bases that are much bigger than this place [Fort Leavenworth] and could house 15,000 Soldiers with ranges, with training areas, with their own water treatment plants, their own power generation, their own mess halls, their own security, their own barracks and offices, and their own mosques. They were little cities.214

The need to create the “little cities” was just one piece of that enormously ambitious plan to rebuild and reshape Iraq’s defense and security establishment that few had considered when Coalition forces entered Iraq in the spring of 2003.


Chapter 11. Training the Iraqi Security Forces





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