Dempsey: Iraqi Forces Will Improve Dramatically
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2006 The improvements in the Iraqi security forces over the next six months will be dramatic, Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey said today.
Dempsey, the commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, spoke via teleconference from Baghdad.
He said the Iraqi security forces will reach their manning goals this month. But the quality of the soldiers and police will increase as more intensified training kicks in.
“There are lead times in procurements and things and even in training, and those things will come to fruition here in the first six months of this next year,” he said.
In June 2007, all 10 army divisions will be under the control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. “They will be in receipt of additional armored protected mobility,” Dempsey said.
The Iraqis will soon receive 16 helicopters. For the first time the Iraqis can start flying their own medical evacuation and transport missions, Dempsey said. The Iraqi security forces will also have their own vehicles to clear streets of roadside bombs.
The Iraqi government has set aside $1.5 billion for military sales. “They're now beginning to engage us with the desire to purchase and procure more modern weaponry,” Dempsey said. “In particular they're immediately interested in U.S. personal weapons – that's rifles and machine guns and such.”
Multinational Forces Iraq officials in Baghdad said the coalition training teams now embedded with all Iraqi units will concentrate on teaching Iraqi commanders and staffs how to plan and execute operations, how to gather intelligence and then act upon it, and how to direct units in the field, they said.
The Iraqis will also concentrate on cooperation between the ministry of defense and the interior, officials said.
The size and composition of the coalition embedded training teams will probably change, Dempsey said.
“I think that growing the size of the transition teams makes a great deal of sense, and also changing their composition,” he said. “If you think about it, when we started down this path of embedding transition teams, the Iraqi security forces were not very well developed, and so we had kind of a minimal approach to the embedded transition teams and we maximized the approach of having a partner unit with it.
“Now the Iraqi forces are becoming more capable, and it's my view, and I think it will be our view, that we should probably at this time reverse the paradigm,” he continued. “We should enhance the transition teams and minimize our partnership with them so that they get used to standing on their own. And I think that's where we're headed.”