Iraqi Army Makes Progress in Recruiting, Logistics
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2007 The Iraqi army is making progress obtaining good leaders and rank-and-file soldiers, as well as developing a more efficient logistics system, a senior U.S. officer serving in Iraq said today.
Senior Iraqi officers visiting training bases report that Iraqi recruits display exuberance and a desire to serve the nation of Iraq, rather than just their tribe or ethnic group, Navy Capt. David Pine, chief of staff for the Joint Headquarters Transition Team Iraq, said today during a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers.”
“There is amazing esprit de corps” among Iraqi military recruits,” Pine said, noting the Iraqi army comprises about 90 percent of the country’s armed forces.
Members of the Iraqi army “are probably the most professional and disciplined of all the (Iraqi military) organizations,” Pine said. “And, they are all about being Iraqi, not being Sunni or Shiia or Kurd.”
Standing up a secular, egalitarian Iraqi military contributes toward security in a country that has experienced religious and sectarian strife since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime four years ago, he said.
Senior Iraqi leaders also are working hard to establish a military that’s roughly balanced in its numbers of Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite servicemembers, Pine said, because Iraqi leaders recognize that sectarianism is an influence across the civilian populace.
“What they’re trying to make sure they don’t do is have an overwhelming majority of one sect or another” in the Iraqi army, Pine said.
The Iraqi army is being rebuilt from the top down, Pine said. Many of today’s senior Iraqi military leaders are familiar with western military methods, having attended U.S. military schools. Iraq’s new generals, colonels, majors, captains and lieutenants are being encouraged to use initiative, as opposed to the Stalinist mindset practiced by the Saddam-era military.
The Iraqi military also is grooming a new generation of noncommissioned officers, Pine said. Historically, the Iraqi military has given almost all authority and responsibility to its commissioned officers, while the noncoms pass along orders to the rank-and-file. This is different than the U.S. military’s system, in which NCOs have much more authority and responsibility, he noted.
However, it would be unrealistic to expect the Iraqis to adopt every aspect of the U.S. military system, Pine said, noting the current Iraqi officer/NCO relationship has been in place for decades.
The Iraqi military logistics system also is improving, Pine said, although he acknowledged it does experience occasional hiccups.
“Logistics is probably the most complex thing any military force does, and so we’re trying to really help them focus on the ability to do logistics,” Pine said.
Now paper-based, the Iraqi logistics system is being retooled to eventually incorporate a computer-run supply database patterned after one used by the U.S. Air Force, he said.
The Iraqi army’s logistics capabilities “have improved across the board,” Pine said, noting efforts have been made to cut down on the amount of time it takes to approve supply requisitions from field units.
In addition, the number of Iraqi army fuel requisitions that were filled by coalition sources dropped dramatically over the past few months, he said. Such instances “have really gone down,” Pine said, because the Iraqis’ supply processes are improving.