The Military Transition Teams and the Development Iraqi Army

The MTT Mission; Successes and setbacks with the Iraqi Army

The MTT at The ROC. Click image to view.

FALLUJAH, IRAQ: While critics of the Iraq Army continue to question the capabilities of the units and soldiers, a real move towards operational independence is occurring within the Iraqi Army. Last year, I embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines (the Teufelhunden) in Husaybah, as well as the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (The Raiders) in the Haditha Triad. The 3/6 was working with the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army, the most seasoned unit in the Army, while the 3/1 worked with the 7th Division, the greenest unit in the Iraqi Army. In western Anbar, a platoon of Marines paired up with a platoon of Iraqi Army soldiers in small outposts called Battle Positions. The Iraqi Army patrolled jointly with the Marines, and were directly dependent on the Marines for food, supplies, ammunition and transport.

The relationship between the Marines and the Iraqi Army has changed over the past year. The 1st Iraqi Army Division is now in the Fallujah region, and the 1st Brigade’s sister unit, the 2nd Brigade, is now operating independently, with embedded Marine Military Transition Teams. Major David McCombs, the executive officer of the 3-2-1 MTT, said their mission is to “advise, assist and mentor the Iraqi Army, and what they do with this is up to them.” There is 1 MTT at the brigade level, and 1 MTT for each of the 3 light infantry battalions in the brigade.

The Marines of the 3rd Recon Military Transition Team (or MTT), advises the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division (3-2-1). The 3-2-1 MTT is made up of 15 personnel (11 trained MTTs with 4 augment Marines), who are embedded withing an Iraqi battalion (about 500 troops).

Iraqi Army Humvees at The ROC. Click image to view.

The MTT team is modeled after Special Forces teams, as training a foreign military force is a classic Special Forces mission. The team is top heavy with officers and senior non-commissioned officers. The 3-2-1 MTT is made up of 2 majors, 1 captain, 3 1st lieutenants, 2 gunnery sergeants, 1 staff sergeant and 2 sergeants. They live and work side by side with the Iraqi Army. The size of the unit and the unique, specialized mission causes the officers and senior enlisted to take on non-traditional roles such as drivers and gunners for convoys through the city on a daily basis.

The Marine MTTS in Fallujah act more as liaisons to the Iraqis than advisers due to resource constraints and problems within the Iraqi Army and the Ministry of Defense. The MTTs are wearing many hats, which limits their ability to advise at the tactical level. An example is how the MTT members were trained and slotted, and what they do on a daily basis has changed since arriving in Iraq. Major McCombs is billeted at the staff trainer, but does the job as operations and executive officers, among many others. Lt. Cortez is a logistics officer but is embedded at the company level as an adviser. Gunny Martin is billeted as the heavy weapons adviser, but is serving as logistics officer.) They are often forced to deal with the critical daily issues, which mainly is related to logistics.

The MTT officers and NCOs all agree that expanding the size of the team will greatly increase their effectiveness, and will allow them to both advise and train their counterparts. There are plans to beef up the number of MTTs in Iraq. The Associated Pressreports the military is “tripling its number of embedded trainers to about 9,000,” however some estimates place the number of MTTs in Iraq at 5,000. But it is unclear whether the size and composition of the individual teams will be increased. Last week, I asked Lieutenant General James Mattis about increasing the size of the individual MTT teams, and he stated he preferred the teams to remain “lean and agile.”

Shortcomings and Successes

Jundi dancing at The ROC. Click image to view.

After spending time with the 3-2-1 MTT and the Iraqi Army, and spending time talking to both the Marines and Iraqi soldiers involved in the enterprise, the successes and shortcomings became evident.

Iraqi Army Shortcomings

Logistics. The IA logistical system is broken at the battalion, brigade, division and Ministry of Defense levels. Requests for equipment such as batteries, air conditioners, heaters, vests, helmets, building materials are mostly ignored. Soldiers in some units share helmets or vests to go out on patrol.

The Ministry of Defense. The MoD is a highly centralized decision making organization, which controls the purse strings of the Iraqi Army. Requests for equipment that should be fulfilled at the battalion or brigade level must go up to MoD, and are ignored. “Why should I file requests for equipment when I know [the chain of command] won’t fulfill it?,” is the attitude of the executive officers of one of the Iraqi Army companies, notes Lt. Turner.

Pay. Some soldiers and officers haven’t been paid in over a year. Some soldiers are talking about leaving the Army if they are not paid soon. The lower ranks strongly suspect senior officers are pocketing their pay. Soldiers that have left the military are also kept on the rolls and their paychecks are often pocketed by officers and ministry officials.

Administration. The Iraqi Army and Ministry of Defense does not have centralized system for keeping soldier’s on the books, notes Captain Spells, who deals directly with administrative and pay issues for the Iraqi Army. At graduation, soldiers receive an 8 digit service number, and after they report to their unit, they receive a 12 digit service number. Soldiers often do not receive one or even both numbers, and it is nearly impossible to correct this error. Paymasters at the higher levels do not make the needed changes to correct the problem. Like the issue with supply, sometimes the requests are not made as a sense of fatalism exists that the requests are being ignored.

Leave policy. This is directly related to pay problems, a lack of an enlistment contract, and a non-existent central banking system. As there is no central banking system, soldiers must physically take their paychecks home. They are forced to travel home unarmed (the weapons are needed at the units, and there is fear the soldiers would sell the weapons), and the soldiers become targets for death squads.

Repair and maintenance. This is often related to logistic issues. A lack of parts prevents doing some needed repair and maintenance. Vehicles can go unfixed for months or longer. But some units do not perform preventative maintenance on their vehicles.

Combat Support. There is a lack of engineers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and maintenance units at the battalion and brigade level. The 3-2-1 does not have any of these units organic to the battalion, and rely exclusively on American support for these services. This can create a delay when executing critical tasks.

Combined arms. The 3-2-1 does not possess heavy weapons such as tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, mortars, artillery and other heavy weapons. Again the battalion depends on the Marines to provide this support. The Iraqi soldiers express frustration over this issue, and feel they are being held back by the Americans and their government. The attitude is “just give us the weapons and we’ll fix this problem.”

Iraqi Army Successes

The IA Patroling in Fallujah. Click image to view.

Tactical Independence. The soldiers are gathering their own intelligence, are planning and executing operations independently. They are able to adjust planning on the fly. An perhaps most importantly, they are independently developing intelligence section at the company level. Counterinsurgency is largely a war of intelligence.

Tactically proficient. The Iraqi Army is executing patrols, ambushes, raids, snap entry control points, manning the Entry Control Points. The soldiers are excellent at identifying IED indicators – the signs IEDs have been planted nearby. “There’s only 3 or 4 times where I made specific recommendations to my company in my 4 ½ months here,” said Lieutenant Turner.

Cultural Awareness. The Iraqi soldier’s ability to speak the language, understand the culture and identify foreigners and other suspicious activities far outweighs any tactical shortcomings when compared to Marines or U.S. soldiers. This advantage cannot be overstated.

Logistical Planning. The Iraqis are good at logistical planning, but it is difficult to acquire materials needed to execute plan.

Brave. The Iraqi soldiers risk their lives to serve their country, and are taking casualties at rate of about four times that of U.S. military. They walk multiple patrols daily in the dangerous city of Fallujah, as well as run convoys, conduct raids, set up checkpoints, live in exposed outposts within the city and other dangerous tasks.

Changing attitudes. The younger officers (majors, captain and lieutenant) are more willing to shed the command driven problems inherent in Arab armies, according to the members of the MTT team. And while I was not able to identify a specific program to promote the leadership and development of NCOs within the battalion, the MTTs stated the NCOs are taking on a greater leadership role within the units, but nowhere near like NCOs within the U.S. military. I personally witnessed Iraqi NCOs take the lead during patrol in Fallujah, directing elements within the patrol while the lieutenant was occupied with other tasks. (Note: the Iraqi Army does have an NCO academy).

Resourceful. Like U.S. Marines, the Iraqi Army is making up for lack of resources with ingenuity. They make modifications to their vehicles and personal gear “They do what they can with what they have,” said Gunnery Sergeant Aaron Martin. Lt. Turner talked in length about a soldier they call the”Super Jundi,” who emulates the Marines by modifying his equipment, tactics. He also takes a keen interest in hunting for IEDs, and is quite proficient. “We are trying to convey a sense of pride in team and unit, and a sense of personal responsibility among the soldiers of the Iraqi Army, and it is working,” said Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Ciccarelli.

Unity. The officers of the 3-2-1 MTT speak highly of the Iraqi Army units they are training. They report the soldiers work well together, and sectarian differences are not a factor. “There is no evidence of infighting between the sects; they view themselves as Muslims and Iraqis first,” said Lt. Turner, who embeds with the Iraqi Army directly at the company level.

Recommendations

Returning to The ROC. Click image to view.

The problems facing the MTTs and Iraqi Army are by no means insurmountable. Three recommendations would greatly improve the effectiveness of the MTTs and ensure the Iraqi Army remains in the fight against the insurgency.

Bypass pay and logistic hurdles in the short term. While the push is to make the Iraqi Army independent on the pay/logistical side, this push should not hinder the retention of experienced officers and soldiers, or the fight against al Qaeda and the insurgency. The Ministry of Defense is clearly not fulfilling these vital tasks, and the U.S. must be prepared to step in to stop the hemorrhaging. The Iraqi government risks losing seasoned and motivated soldiers to problems as simple as pay and equipment. The Iraqi Army soldiers are willing to fight, and it would be criminal to lose these troops. While providing pay or equipment may be viewed as a step back and an increase in dependency on the U.S., but this is a small price to pay to maintain the cohesion of the army.

Double size of MTTs. The effectiveness of the MTTs will be improved and allow advisers to focus on their dual task of both advising and training the Iraqi Army. As things are now, the 3-2-1 can only act in an advisory role due to lack of resources.

Increase the number of interpreters. A good interpreter is worth his weight in gold, can be one of the most valuable members of the team, and acts as a bridge between the Iraqis an Americans. The MTT was constantly shuffling its interpreter around the battalion as there is a shortage of interpreters. The MTTs at the company level are often left without an interpreter, which can hinder communications at a critical time. On a patrol in Fallujah, Lt. Cortez thanked his interpreter, and stated he could not have conducted a vital communication without his presence. This communication prevented a potential friendly fire incident.

If you have enjoyed reading this post from Iraq, please consider donating to support this embed. Or, if you are not comfortable with PayPal and wish to send a check, email me at billroggio@gmail.com and I will send you an address.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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43 Comments

  • Nicholas says:

    I sure home someone in a high place is listening. Your suggestions seem eminently pragmatic. Thanks for the report, keep it up and be careful!

  • Nicholas says:

    Gah, let me try that again. I sure HOPE someone in a high place is listening. (Yes, I type home a lot, it’s a Linux thing…)
    P.S. This report is incredibly detailed and has sophisticated analysis. I see very few pieces of reporting as clearly laid out as this. I’m afraid most people find this type of reporting boring, with no explosions or decapitations or other sensational aspects, but it’s an information gold mine in my opinion. I hope others appreciate it similarly.

  • I have personal experience with Gen Mattis, a brave and resourceful Marine, and I can guarantee that his personal motto is “lean and agile.” In fact the Marine Corps motto should be changed to “Semper Fi (lean and agile)”. The Marines are a great organization but I believe (as a retired Army officer who worked with the Marines) that Bill’s suggestion to beef up the MTT’s will have to be pushed at a level higher than Gen Mattis.
    I also have personal experience with trying to get money out of an Iraqi bureaucracy in Baghdad. The process is Byzantine and I was never able to figure it out. The pay and logistics issues that Bill outlined have been reported elsewhere, and have been there for years. Obviously, U.S. commanders are aware of these problems but are probably trying to force the Iraqis to make their own system work. We have spent too much time doing things for them. This problem is not on the Iraqi military side but on the civilian side. Political will by Iraqi politicians would make this work but they are busy chasing other rabbits.

  • Eleanor says:

    BILL: OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU AND ALL OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN FIGHTING FOR OUR COUNTRY.

  • amcgltd says:

    Making it Work

    Blogger Bill Roggio is currently embedded with the coalition forces in Fallujah, and has this first-hand account of what works, what doesn’t work, and what can be done to fix it. It would appear that all the classic screwups…

  • Joshua says:

    I forwarded this article to the White House in hopes of God’s blessing. I would encourage others to do the same: vice_president@whitehouse.gov,
    comments@whitehouse.gov

  • Anand says:

    That in Dec 2006 there is a shortage of translators is a horrible indictment of former Secretary Rumsfeld (trying not to be political here). I would in the short term hire as many Iraqi and Iraqi American translators as possible (at double/triple pay if need be), and recruit from Arab Americans of other ethnicities (there are differences in Arabic spoken in different Arab countries). Many of them will not be very familiar with the military (even I’m not) . . . but we work with what we’ve got.
    On a parallel basis, we need to put some of our best officers and NCOs into 18 months of intensive language training (Arabic, Pashtu, Dari, Farsi etc.), and put them into long term training/advising assignments. We need to sharply boost their pay and career prospects to encourage our best officers/NCOs to participate in the program.

  • the crog says:

    I will forward to the article to Joshua’s sites.
    I am not aware of other people who should get a copy. – or 1,000 copies. I am Bill’s mother and I check the site often and am willing to forward. If anyone has other suggestions, post them and I will forward like crazy. Bill gets lots of visitors here every day. If his regulars also forward – well we know about strength in numbers.
    I would not normally do this – and Bill might not approve – but in this Season of Peace and Hope I would like to thank everyone who supports Bill in his work.

  • the crog says:

    I will forward to the article to Joshua’s sites.
    I am not aware of other people who should get a copy. – or 1,000 copies. I am Bill’s mother and I check the site often and am willing to forward. If anyone has other suggestions, post them and I will forward like crazy. Bill gets lots of visitors here every day. If his regulars also forward – well we know about strength in numbers.
    I would not normally do this – and Bill might not approve – but in this Season of Peace and Hope I would like to thank everyone who supports Bill in his work.

  • Richard Bergesen says:

    It seems that soldiers in the Iraqi army getting their pay is an important issue. This could be resolved by good internal controls and a good group of auditors with support from the highest levels. The pay should be made as direct deposits to the accounts of the soldiers, which would be continuously audited, by U.S. auditors as well as Iraqi. I know that corruption is endemic in the developing countries of the world, but if we put our expertise to work here, it would have a much greater payoff than a lot of the other places where we are spending it – (I have heard $2 Billion Dollars a month in Iraq!)

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Richard Bergesen
    That would require a national banking system that does not exist in Iraq ATT…

  • The Chief says:

    Keep track of it elsewhere to cut out local corruption. The corrupt ones would, of course, fight this under the guise of the US trying to take over. Maybe there are e-commerce solutions that could be applied.
    How much for 50000 credit card readers?

  • Brother Bark says:

    The corruption is the central problem, I think.
    BTW, the phrase “nearly impossible correct this error” is missing the word “to”.

  • Linkzookery – 19 Dec 2006

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  • junyo says:

    The pay issue is huge. No man’s going to be motivated to fight if he’s risking his life AND leaving his family destitute as a result.
    This post seems to highlight a simple fact; more US troops on the ground would be nice, but the Iraqis are learning to hold their own. What seems to be needed is supply clerks and personnel managers, and some folks that are good with high availability order fulfilment systems. In other words, Iraq needs UPS.

  • Lcpl Purcell says:

    Hey everyone,
    This one was of great interest to me, you have done a very good job again at laying out the situation here Bill.
    As most of you keenly zeroed in on, the pay does seem to be the biggest issue at the moment. Lisa, you have presented some marvoulous ideas on this issue. However, I don’t totally agree with treating it as a disaster relief. The problem being security ofcourse, no matter where/how you setup such points entire sectors of the city would possiably turn out on a regular basis for these meaning huge crowds nearly impossiable to control. It would be all too easy to attack these places with large crowds around and thus scare the people away from us.
    Which leads to my comments on the national banking system. I’m to understand there actually is/was a banking system in place for the IA to use. However, the terrorists have made it far too risky for the soldiers. Internet does not exist in Iraq so direct deposit is a no go. All the soldiers have to cash the checks at some time so ali baba just waits around the bank, finds you when you leave and asks for you id card. At this point you lose, don’t give it to him? he kills you. Show it to him, you still die. I agree that it dearly needs oversight at the very least we need to make a seperate finance system so your commander is not the one handing out the money (or not in some cases).

  • The Military Transition Teams and the Development Iraqi Army

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    The MTT Mission; Successes and setbacks with the Iraqi Army
    While critics of the Iraq Army continue to question the capabilities of the units and soldiers, a real move towards operational independence is occurring within…

  • Anand says:

    Lcpl Purcell, its not just Ali Baba . . . much of it is organized crime claiming to be “resistance” for legitimacy.
    Lisa, one of the biggest problems in Iraq initially was that we did not understand Iraqis (their culture and way of doing business.)
    Bill, how much better are we at this now?
    In the short run Iraqi government should consider outsourcing (sub-contracting) out many of these functions to the private sector (in the short run international contracting/consulting companies that in time transition over to cheaper local firms). In the more dangerous parts of Iraq, the Iraqi government should train Iraqi soldiers to do it. This means hiring international consulting companies (or other parts of the US government) to train IA to conduct these operations.
    The IA could set up a registered mail system(conducted by well armed IA soldiers) to deliver pay checks to soldier or Iraqi civil servant families. The IA could hire UPS (or other global logistics companies such as DHL) to train a “postal brigade combat team” in these functions.
    The US Congress could offer to pay most of the start-up costs for this to encourage the Iraqi government to do it.
    Physically doing it in the insecure environment of Al Anbar or Baghdad is much more difficult than writing about it. This will be very challenging and difficult work, and no immediate panacea.

  • cjr says:

    I think Bill’s post clearly illustrates a key issue that is overlooked.
    The military is doing an excellent job at what it is designed to do: fight fights and train armies. It is not doing well at what it is NOT designed to, and is NOT supposed to be doing. That is, economic and political development. Who in their right mind would expect the US Army to be an expert in or have the resouces to implement a nation banking system?
    That kind of development is suppose to be the job of the US State Dept and its economic development branch, USAID. The problem that gets overlooked is that we have an extremely incompetent State Dept.
    For example, the DOD has 140,000 troops and 4000 advisors in Iraq. Yet, 3.5 years into Iraq, Provisional Reconstruction Teams which should be set up be the State Department are are suppose to be in charge of economic development has ~130 personel in the entire country. 130!! Is there any wonder why major economics issues are not being addressed? This is the area that is going to make or break Iraq. This is the area that should have a glaring spotlight shined on it. This is the area that is completely broken.
    Sorry about this diatribe but this situation really makes my blood boil. US Army is making Hercelian efforts to get things right, yet they get criticized for failures(not neccessarily here but in other media) about things that are not even their responsibility in the first place, while the department that is really screwing up is never mentioned.

  • the nailgun says:

    Why not transfer the cash via helicopter at night to FOB’s as I understand ammo and other supplies are delivered. At least that gets it to the soldiers. Still leaves problem of the soldier getting their pay to their families but it achieves step 1.
    The lack of pay also raises the issue of how much better would the Iraqi Economy be going if all ISF WERE getting their pay and their families spending it in their local economies. I agree with Bill put US back in charge and then start building a IA pay office capability up around it. Cut out the civvies in Baghdad right out of the process. My guess is a Iraqi soldier is going to be a lot more committed to getting his comrades-in-arms pay to them than a bureaucrat in the Green Zone.

  • HK_Vol says:

    How come we didn’t read about these issues and suggested changes in the Baker-Hamilton ISG report? Kudos to Bill, but depressing that the publicized report didn’t address any of these issues that I am aware of…

  • the nailgun says:

    HK_Vol – that might have had something to do with them only spending 3 and half days in Green Zone and only one panel member leaving the Green Zone.

  • Michael says:

    Bill,
    Excellent detailed work on problems.
    Joshua, good idea. I’ll forward this information to many people as well.
    The Iraqi Army/Police will not stand up if they cannot trust their government for whom they are dying. These issues of corruption and incompetence must be confronted. And unless we’re pulling out, our side will have to harass the powers that be in Iraqi government to correct these problems. To help setup a fail-safe payment system. Getting the volunteers paid for Iraq will distribute wealth around the country, plus, give incentives for more volunteers to join in securing their country.
    Regarding the banking problem. Sting operations by the police/army would help. Practical considerations for individuals are go to the bank in large numbers, well equipped.
    Establish banks by police stations. Employ the Guiliani MYC rules criminal engagement. No loitering allowed in strategic locations or get immediately arrested.
    Taking down small timers can lead to bigger criminials and gangs.
    Definitely establish an accounting oversight telephone number for all complaints of late pay that are run like any type of independent auditing function and which have power to investigate claims and arrest those skimming off the top.
    All of this takes time, years to put in place.
    Dear Lord I hope and pray we give the 12 million who voted for freedom time.

  • Dick Stanley says:

    Drive on, Bill. Good show. Better than the MSM is producing, or the ISG. Sounds, unfortunately, like the South Vietnamese government–the inefficiency and corruption. While the troops themselves are brave and resourceful and increasingly tactically proficient. If we can find (and recognize) these problems 3.5 years in (instead of 10 plus years as in South Vietnam) we have a chance to fix it. And South Lebanon be damned. The Israelis carried too much baggage. Far more than we do. Ditto NSA and access to classified information–much of it bull anyway. Sure the Saudis and Wahabbis are the enemy. But we had to start somewhere, and we can’t give up, just because we’ve been in the habit of it ever since 1975.

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  • the nailgun says:

    Matt – Abizaid says we can win, Casey says we can win, Chiarelli says we can win, Keane says we can win, Pace says we can win, even Colin Powell says we are losing but HAVE NOT lost. So which Generals are right and which ones are wrong, yours or mine? Quoting one or two generals who say it was a mistake proves absolutely nil.

  • William Adams says:

    Matt, you are the incorrect one. We have fought this war with two hands tied behind our back. One is the Congress that denuded our military for the last 15 years. The other is the Pentagon that has been run by politicians in uniform for the last 15 years. They both have failed our men in Iraq. But that area of the world is essential to our continued use of oil. We cannot let it be controlled by people who are seeking our demise.
    The first thing to do is to put the IA on the army payroll. Adding 400,000 to our computers would not be a big job. Then we change the rules of engagement that tells everyone that any civilian appearing on the street, day or night, will be shot on sight. If he runs into a house or mosque to hide it will be destroyed. Finally, once a month after being paid a sortie of troops accompany the paid soldiers home to give the money to their families.
    This would restore some semblence of order and safety to people on our side. And fear to the others.
    Bush needs Generals like Grant, Sherman, to do what is necessary. And He should prosecute newspaper editors who are doing everything they can to aid the enemy.

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  • Andrew R. says:

    And He should prosecute newspaper editors who are doing everything they can to aid the enemy.

    I frequently see this line of thinking come up on the right, and it’s a terrible, terrible idea. The regimes in history that only allowed the press to report victories and forbade the reporting of defeats are not the sort of regimes that we want to emulate.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Andrew R:
    Knowing and willing compromise of classified information is a felony under US Federal Law.
    Any reporter, editor, etc is an accessory during and after the fact to a felony when they receive that classified information and then publish it while hiding their source’s identity…
    That is US Law. The press is not exempt from the law. And, using the RICO statutes for press organizations that do this as policy, we could seize the organization (NYT for example).
    No politician would do that. Even when they get our people killed with their stories (body armor weakness points). Too much fallout on any future campaign trail…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I have to go with Sherman on this…
    I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are.
    William T. Sherman
    I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.
    William T. Sherman
    If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.
    William T. Sherman

  • Michael says:

    Lisa,
    I share your concerns. However, we have as much time as our leaders will make by their “will” and their “skill” to lead the American people.
    Bush has allowed the media to take over the debate entirely and during a time of war, he cannot allow that to happen.
    Bringing Baker into the mix gives me considerable pause that they are not willing, at least, not the older powers. Bush I think is facing both Democrats and turncoats in his own party. Baker could care less about Israel and would allow Saddam to rule again if he had his way.
    It is a question of will. Our soldiers everyday win their individual battles. The Iraq economy is improving against all odds. That is not the problem. The problem is one of leadership in this country, both parties. Not just the leadership of Iraq. We knew going in it was corrupt.
    To bend over to Syria and Iran is to welcome more corruption, chaos, and tyrants into the equation. Whereas we should be causing chaos for those governments who are our direct enemies.
    They take the long view of warfare against us and the West, and so must we against them. And our leaders must inform the public much better than they have in the past.

  • Michael says:

    From MNF-Iraq, local Iraqi tip leads to 15 dead insurgents, 21 captured.
    We must remember the media overreacts to bad news and under reacts to positive news.
    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8235&Itemid=109
    These tips form normal Iraqi citizens flow in daily/weekly all over the country.

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  • Chapomatic says:

    Link Dump 21 Dec

    A digger version of John Nagl?
    Okay, this one got me. Well done. (h/t Soxblog)
    Also via Soxblog, Dean Barnett mentioning the strategic value of concepts in warfighting terms–or as he puts it, moral clarity in wartime.
    First two “o”…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Lisa
    Look up the desertion rate for our revolutionary war and Civil war. Those are closer to what is going on.
    Also, the Iraqi Government has addressed this problem and I know you have read of it because you commented back in Oct when it was announced.
    – 18,000 to bring existing IA up to strength.
    – 12,000 to overman the combat units to 110%.
    – 18,700 to form an additional 3 Div HQ, 5 Bde HQ, 20 Bns and 1 SOF Bn.
    In other words, old news and it is being addressed…

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  • DJ Elliott says:

    10,000 new Junji training every 8 weeks.
    Takes time.
    At that rate those forces will be basic trained end-Jul07.
    The new units are to be formed by Apr and fully operational a year from now…
    What I found interesting in Bill’s reporting is the 3-2-1 IA has almost 800 troops in Falujah. TO/E for an IA Bn at 100% is 750. And 1st IAD was supposed to be seriously undermanned. That means they are already getting replacements in some units…

  • Anand says:

    Does anyone have any comments on the 7th Iraqi Army division (IAD)? To my knowledge, only one of its battalions are in the lead, and none of its division and 3 brigade Headquarters. The public plan is for the division and all brigade headquarters to be in the lead by June, 2007 (and under Iraqi Ground Force Command).
    Bill, I guess you didn’t get a chance to see the 7th IAD up close?
    Is there any information available regarding the status of Iraq’s engineering battalions? Once these battalions are level 1, we can start seeing cat 1 divisions.
    The latest http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/9010Quarterly-Report-20061216.pdf
    is the least informative one yet.
    Some points:
    7 of the 9 Motorized Transportation Regiments (MTR) are operational and under the control of their respective division Headquarters.
    The final MTR completed training in late October.
    All service and Headquarters companies are scheduled to be formed by the end of this year (probably for the initial 10 division/36 brigade force).
    More than 7500 NCOs and officers have been trained for the MTRs, Regional supply units (RSU), and HQs and Serice companies by the Taji Iraqi Armed Service Supply Institute.
    3 Iraqi training battalions are fully operational.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    All three Bns of 1-7 Bde are in-lead and have their own Battlespace in Ramadi. None of the Bdes have graduated yet. The other 6 Bns have not gone in-lead yet. Part of what is slowing them down is undermanning which is being corrected.
    All training of IA is done on a “train-the-trainer” basis since summer2005. We teach Iraqi instructors and they do the training with MiTTs auditing and assisting. Those three Basic Training Bns were among the first to graduate and have been FMC for months…
    Only one operational Engr Bn has been officially formed: 6th Engr Bn.
    Rest are Engr “Teams” ATT.
    Training of Engr troops only started Aug2005:
    – 1st Engr Trng Bn can only train 7 companies per Year.
    – EOD School does 10 Companies per Year.
    – Assault Boat training is only at Habbenayah and started in Sep2006.
    – Until the rest of the Inf Bns’ HHC/HSCs are established the Engrs will wait since they are understregth anyway…

  • Seth Labadie says:

    Yes, some people in the chain are listening… I’m a Captain in the Army, working at the Pentagon… just finished a 16 month tour in Baghdad.
    Bill, you are a critical resource.

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  • Tom Grey says:

    Great, important reporting. Wish more in MSM would see it — and that the US press corps got serious about the critical problems in Iraq of the Iraqi gov’t.
    The failures of the Iraqi gov’t reflect somewhat poor teaching, as student failures reflect poor teaching–but the failures remain primarily the failure of those responsible.
    Iraq Min. of Defense. Isn’t that a Sadr guy? (along with Interior) Why isn’t it better known?
    The US should be “advising” / monitoring the MoD — as well as setting up a hotline for complaints.
    Triple pay for interpreters is good — it would be also be useful if more Americans were learning Arabic. Probably some of the 100 000s have a “talent” for learning languages, and bonuses would be helpful.
    ***I’ve long claimed one of Bush big mistakes is a failure to recruit and train more Arabic speakers; and it was a Clinton and Bush I mistake, too.
    Better automatic Arabic voice to text recording, and automatic text translation would also be good programs for the US DoD.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis