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Support Command Focuses on Training Iraqi Logisticians

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

FORWARD LOGISTICS AREA ANACONDA, Iraq, Dec. 26, 2005 – It doesn't matter how many troops you have or how well trained they are if you can't sustain them.

Coalition logisticians are working with the nascent Iraqi army to build a logistics capability for the force.

Army Lt. Col. Steven Shapiro, chief of operations for 3rd Corps Support Command and selected for promotion to colonel, said the command's soldiers are training Iraqis through schools and, mostly, through on-the-job experience. "We're training the Iraqis to follow up and provide support to their forces as they engage the enemy," Shapiro said during an interview in Balad.

On paper, and increasingly in reality, Iraqi logistical units are embedded in Iraqi maneuver units. The 3rd Corps Support Command is partnered with Iraqi motorized transportation regiments. "When you see an Iraqi army unit engaged, ... their physical resupply is through their motorized transportation regiments," he said.

Plans call for one motorized regiment per division, and the Iraqis plan for nine divisions. The regiments will handle all their own maintenance and their own security. "When we operate on the roads, we protect the convoys," Shapiro said. "The motorized transportation regiments will have their own mobile force protection assets embedded with them."

Three regiments are operating now. Coalition logistics personnel handle supplying the rest of the Iraqi force, Shapiro said.

The 3rd Corps Support Command has U.S. military transition teams working with the regiments, he explained. Each team has about 30 soldiers when it starts working with Iraqi forces. As the Iraqis learn and become more proficient, the transition team shrinks. Some teams now have only five soldiers, Shapiro noted.

American noncommissioned and commissioned officers are working with their Iraqi counterpartss. They show them how to set up an operations order and how to execute one, then work with the Iraqis as they learn, then step back as Iraqis handle missions on their own, Shapiro explained.

Iraqi units delivering supplies to their own forces means U.S. drivers and trucks aren't making the deliveries. "The more the Iraqi motorized transportation regiments do, the better off we are," Shapiro said.

As the maneuver units are doing what they need to do on the battlefield, the logistics command can get them what they need -- ideally a bit before they need it, he said.

Iraqis still are wrestling with how to set up their logistics command. "We're ready to help them whenever they decide," he said. "They seem to be leaning toward setting up their version of a corps support command."

People shouldn't expect the Iraqi system to be a mirror of the American system, Shapiro said. The American logistics effort is state-of-the-art. Computerized, satellite-monitored global positioning system tracking is not going to be part of the Iraqi logistics effort. The Iraqi logistics effort will be nowhere near as technical, nor does it have to be, Shapiro explained.

"As souped-up as it is with us, ... I would submit to you that they don't need that. (Theirs) will be based on more manual systems," Shapiro said. "The Microsoft suite of software will be as high-tech as they will need to go, at least at first."

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