Reserve Division to Teach Iraqi Security Forces
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2004 More than 700 members of an Army Reserve training division are moving into Iraq to help train local security forces.
The 98th Division (Institutional Training) out of Rochester, N.Y., is beginning a one-year mission to train members of the Iraqi army and other security forces, said Army Maj. Gen. Bruce E. Robinson, the division commander.
"We are taking over a piece of training of the Iraqi forces," Robinson said during an interview in the Pentagon today.
The move marks a first for these reserve division soldiers, but they do give commanders a unique capability. The division will deploy a command and control headquarters under the command of Brig. Gen. Richard J. Sherlock Jr., who has been serving in Iraq as Coalition Military Assistance Training Team deputy commander. Sherlock will report to Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.
The headquarters will deploy to Baghdad and trainers will deploy to Taji Military Training Base, Kurkush training base and four other training sites. "There will be a logistics base in Kuwait, but we'll be spread out in north, south and central (Iraq)," Robinson said. The 98th Division soldiers will have all the equipment and training they will need to face the challenging Iraqi environment, he emphasized.
What makes the division attractive to planners is the unit-based solution that it brings to the situation. The Multinational Security Transition Command is staffed by servicemembers on an individual basis, and different services have a different troop rotation policy. The unit-based approach gives the division the responsibility and will reduce the turbulence associated with the current policy, said officials in Iraq.
And the division specializes in training. In the United States, the division can conduct institutionalized training from basic combat training up to command and general staff courses. The division augments the staffs at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Fort Jackson, S.C., during the very crowded summer months. In addition, it provides training at ROTC summer camps and teaches the full line of noncommissioned officer professional military education courses, Robinson said.
In Iraq, the division will specialize in providing individual skills especially for NCOs, officers and basic combat training. The biggest change the division faces is the language barrier, Robinson said. The drill sergeants and trainers in the division will be working through interpreters. And the training setup is not a duplicate of what the division uses to train American troops, but rather is tailored for Iraq.
The division also can train beyond the basic training level. "If it's an engineer unit, we can train them; medics, we can train them," Robinson said. "But the biggest assistance we can give them is to train the NCO corps and the junior officers so that they can become the trainers of the future.
"Once that is taught and understood," he continued, "there will be sergeants at the squad and platoon levels and lieutenants and captains at the company levels so they can then mold their units (and) get their units cohesive, operational and out to fight the enemy."
Division soldiers will take over 31 of the 39 advisory support teams in the command and will provide support for the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team and the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team as well as the headquarters.
Some division soldiers already have arrived in Iraq, and others are due to deploy over the next nine weeks, officials said. The soldiers are training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and are receiving some language and cultural training before deploying.
The division's headquarters is in New York, but it has units from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. At the end of the deployment, another institutional training division will take over if needed.