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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

American Forces Press Service

Iraqi Army Needs Logistics, Noncommissioned Officers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2005 – The Iraqi army needs to develop a dependable logistics system and a professional cadre of noncommissioned officers, the top U.S. military commander in Baghdad said today.

"The most telling requirement for the Iraqi army now" is to develop a dependable logistics system that provides battalion commanders with fuel, ammunition, water, food, replacement vehicles, repair parts and personnel, Army Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite-teleconference briefing.

The Iraqi army now relies on contracted logistics support, Webster said. It'll probably take a year to two years for the Iraqis to develop a reliable military logistics system, he said.

Developing such a logistics system will require close collaboration between the Iraqi government and U.S. military officials, Webster said.

To that end, Army Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey has been tasked by Multinational Force Iraq Commander Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. "to pick up that ball and run with it," Webster said. Dempsey assumed command of the NATO training mission in Iraq from Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus on Sept. 8.

The Iraqi army is also aware of its need to establish a noncommissioned officer corps, Webster said. Such a "corps of sergeants," he said, constitutes "the backbone of the United States Army."

Efforts are under way to train promising young Iraqi soldiers as NCOs, "to lead their men in combat and to exact discipline and accountability," Webster said.

Improvements made to Iraqi army logistics and leadership areas "will eventually 'slingshot' them towards success," Webster said.

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