Command Arrangements Change in Northern Baghdad Area
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2006 When the 2nd Brigade of the 9th Iraqi Mechanized Division assumed 150 square kilometers of battlespace north of Baghdad yesterday, it was more than just a paperwork shuffle.
"From the command and control perspective, they go from reporting to (the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry) to me," 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Commander U.S. Army Col. James Pasquarette said during an interview. "They now report straight into my headquarters, and I report to the 4th (Infantry Division)."
But this arrangement is only temporary. In June, the 2nd Brigade's parent unit, the 9th Division, will assume battle space, and the divisions' 1st and 2nd brigades will come under its operational control. This division's commander will then report directly to the commander of Multinational Division Baghdad.
But the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and the Iraqi 9th Division still will be intermingled until the American units redeploy, officials said. Pasquarette said his unit will continue to provide augmentation for military transition teams. "That's how they get the enablers (to the Iraqis)," he said. "If they need close-air support, attack helicopters, (explosive ordnance disposal), dog teams, those are the ones who integrate them into (the Iraqi) operations."
Pasquarette's unit also will continue partnership with the Iraqis, "but it won't be to the level it is right now."
When 7-10 Cavalry had the lead in operations, the unit had three cavalry troops, company-sized units, operating in the area. "We're drawing that down to one troop, and (the Iraqis) are going to pick up more of the tasks in that area," he said.
The one remaining troop will continue to train with the Iraqis and conduct combined operations. The American training teams and the cavalry unit will ensure the Iraqis do not fail, Pasquarette said. But the Iraqis will have more latitude to make their decisions and will receive more responsibilities as the year goes on. The 2nd Brigade is receiving more tasks that Americans were doing, and the process of turning over these tasks continues, he said.
The colonel said this will be an evolutionary process. By the time the U.S. brigade redeploys, the area around Taji may be under full control of the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Division, with no partnership units intermingled.
Pasquarette said the changeover should "make the Iraqis uncomfortable" -- meaning they should feel stretched by the responsibility. "If they are comfortable, it probably means that we are not giving them enough to do," he said. "We'll help them work smarter and help them with planning. We will not let them fail as they figure out the 'troop-to-task process' that is the crux of the situation."
Like American leaders, the Iraqi commanders must look at the totality of their area of operations. They must decide where they can take risks and where they must be "risk-averse," Pasquarette said.
The Iraqi 2nd Brigade in particular and the 9th Division in general should do very well, he said. "They are very, very professional," he said. "I think the 9th Division has an incredibly bright future once they are through the training gates."
He said the division needs to work on manning, and there is a proposal to recruit locally. Pasquarette said 2,000 enlistment packets from Tarmiyah alone are awaiting approval in Baghdad. "We think this will be good for the demographics of the division," he said. "It's about 70 percent Shiia now; the influx of Sunnis will bring it to 50-50."