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Iraqi Military Reconstruction

Originally, the hope was in fact that large elements of the army would stay intact, and that the municipal police [the political security police] would very quickly return to their beats in Baghdad and other areas. The team under the former civil administrator [Jay] Garner was really taken somewhat by surprise in that the apparatus of the Iraqi government went home. The army had dissolved.

It is estimated that about 400,000 people, mostly military personnel, lost their jobs when Saddam's military apparatus was disolved in May 2003. Not much was left of the Iraqi military -- about 18 tanks and a few artillery pieces.

Initial plans for the interim defense force called for bringing about 30,000 Iraqi troops back to active duty, consisting of those who had received leaflets and followed the instructions telling them to go back to their homes when the fighting started. They were drawn from regular army units. Only about 18 tanks and a few artillery pieces were left after the fall of the regime. This interim defense force was used primarily with coalition joint patrols and border patrols.

Initially in mid-2003, three separate groups of officers were contacted (one of the officers was a comptroller) and they had a roster of thirty thousand Iraqi soldiers who got the fliers dropped during the war and than capitulated. Their primary purpose would be border patrols and joint patrols with coalition forces.

The Coalition evaluated the feasibility of issuing the recovered Iraqi equipment, such as small arms, back to the New Iraq Corps. But for armor and artillery the new Iraq needed a defense budget.

Only a small number of officers would be employed in the new army, as it was planned to be much smaller than that of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The US administration in Iraq envisions the new army to be purely for defense and wholly separate from the civil police force unlike during the Hussein regime.

The first media event was paying soldiers twenty dollars each to join an interim defense force. On 06 July 2003 the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) announced that it would undertake the monthly payment of emergency pay to former Iraqi military personnel to include former POWs and their families and to MIAs who used to work in the Ministry of Defense. This is an interim program subject to review by the CPA and to a decision by the future Iraqi government whether to continue the stipends, and if so, on what terms.

On April 18, 2004, Iraqi Interim Minister of Defense Ali Allawi announced the appointment of the three top generals in the Iraqi Armed Forces during a news conference. The top general, who was to hold the office of Senior Military Advisor, was General Babekr al-Zibari, and the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Armed Forces was General Amer al-Hashimi. The Deputy Chief of Staff was Lieutenant General Daham al-Assal.

Iraqi security forces received "massive shipments" of weapons and material from coalition partners in the first week of August 2004, as the security effort to assist the Iraqi government in equipping its forces continued. As of 28 July 2004, Iraqi army, coastal defense, air, and National Guard forces had received more than 2,500 vehicles, 600 radios, 55,000 weapons and 25,000 pieces of body armor. Interior ministry forces, including police, border enforcement and facilities protection services, had received more than 6,800 vehicles, 14,000 radios, 101,000 weapons, and nearly 46,000 pieces of body armor.

By late 2004 equipment totals for all forces were intended eventually reach nearly 290,000 weapons, 24,000 vehicles, 75,000 radios, and more than 190,000 pieces of body armor. Also, the 5th battalion activated and two additional battalions deployed to the Baghdad area, joining the previously deployed Iraqi Intervention Force's 2nd Battalion, to form an army security force of three fully trained regular army units in and around the capital city.

On September 26, 2004, Lt. General David H. Petraeus, commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post that indicated that, in conjunction with personnel expansion, Iraqis would also be receiving more advanced equipment such as vehicle x-ray machines in addition to the 9,000 weapons, 22 million rounds of ammunition, 42,000 sets of body armor, 4,400 vehicles, 16,000 radios and 235,000 uniforms already given since 01 July 2004.

In July 2005 Marine Gen. Peter Pace said that only "a small number of Iraqi security forces are taking on the insurgents and terrorists by themselves," a third are ready to do so with coalition help, while the rest are only "partially capable."

Coalition Military Assistance Training Team [CMATT]

The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, known as CMATT, was been engaged in training the Iraqi army. CMATT is developing forces which are under political control, accountable to the nation, and defensive in capability and intent. The vision is to man, train, and equip nine infantry brigades, a small coastal defense force, and the beginning of an aviation element to establish the foundation of the Iraqi army run by Iraqis.

The process starts at three main recruiting hubs in Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. That also represented the spread of the country and the ethnic distribution. Each class that is recruited is ethnically balanced. This provided an atmosphere where tolerance is essential to mission accomplished. CMATT looked for those individuals who wish to defend Iraq and its newfound freedom, and are skilled in such professions as truck driver, heavy equipment operator, food service, first aid, and above all else, infantry. A majority of new recruits have prior military service, and nearly all of the non-commissioned officers and officer candidates do as well. The Iraqi officer corps of the old army is a pretty good officer corps in a lot of respects, certainly from the perspective of military training. The non-commissioned officer corps is deficient, and the soldiers and the training they received were deficient.

Nearly 1,000 recruits are recruited in order to produce an active battalion of 757 soldiers. Attrition is due to such things as voluntary withdrawal or failure to meet standards. This is not unusual in any army that recruits in a fashion similar to the recruiting that we do here, and speaking from personal experience in the American Army, similar to what we have in the United States.

In order to get the ball rolling, the first four battalions have been trained under a system where officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men are trained simultaneously but separately. All three groups are then brought together for a three-week period of collective training before the battalion graduates and is sent to its respective garrison base.

Training focused on an end state that provides an individual soldier who possesses fundamental soldier skills, functions as a member of a multiethnic team, is oriented to military service and service to the Iraqi nation, and is schooled in human rights and the law of land warfare. He also respects others and is physically and mentally prepared to begin service in the Iraqi army.

The first battalion graduated on 4 October 2003 and is based at Kirkuk, and employed by the 4th Infantry Division Mechanized. The second battalion was employed by the 1st Armored Division, and they're garrisoned at Taji since their graduation on 6 January 2004, which is also Army Day and celebrated as such since 1921. Following the graduation in late Jnuary 2004 the 3rd Battalion, the unit was deploymed to the Mosul area.

Based on the premise that a thousand leaders can create an army faster than creating an army a thousand soldiers at a time, CMATT have adopted the same cohort model for recruitment and training that the United States used to gear up for World War II. As World War II began, the US was a particularly small army, and expanded by bringing in the leadership that we had on the active rolls.

The remaining 23 battalions will follow this course of action, where officers and non-commissioned officers will conduct separate courses. They then come together to form the battalion cadre, and will train their own soldiers are recruited and brought together en masse to the locations where the garrisons are set. This will be an Iraqi army trained by Iraqis.

After battalions conduct their initial training, they will start a rotation of collective training or unit training and operational employment. The emphasis for collective training is on conducting tactical movements and practicing operations in both rural and in urban terrain. CMATT currently had more than 1,200 soldiers on duty, and more than 2,500 in training as of late January 2004.

In addition to the 27 infantry battalions in the army, CMATT was building the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force and the Iraqi Army Air Corps.

This is a tough neighborhood, and three light infantry divisions do not provide, and will not provide the end state defensive requirements for the Iraqi ground forces. It never was intended to be so. It was the basis of systems, and above all else, the basis of the leader ethos, the leadership, the core of the Iraqi army that one day will be prepared to take on alone the defense of this nation. Various analysts suggest that Iraq will eventually need between eight and 12 divisions, and within that eight to 12 divisions, between 40 and 60 percent heavy combined-arms capable divisions -- that's tank, infantry fighting vehicle and artillery, backed up by attack helicopter aircraft, lift aircraft, and the wherewithal to secure the air above -- air defense artillery and the interceptor aircraft needed to defend the skies. As of January 2004 the US estimate is that the earliest Iraq could produce such a force would be between three and five years.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:38:10 ZULU