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U.S. Military Advisers 'Embed' in Iraqi Units

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

ARABIAN GULF REGION, Feb. 10, 2005 – U.S. forces will use an "advisory, assistance and embedding" strategy to help prepare Iraqi forces to provide security and ensure stability within their own borders, according to a senior military officer in the region.

Small teams, each composed of about 10 U.S. servicemembers, will be attached to Iraqi units at the battalion level and above, the officer said today, speaking on background.

A top priority for coalition forces in Iraq over the next year is to do "all we can to make sure the Iraqis understand that ultimately they have to be responsible for their own security," the officer said. "We can help the Iraqis to develop their own indigenous security forces that are capable doing the job by refocusing and reshaping their current forces."

The U.S. troops will be embedded in the Iraqi units, and they will advise and assist Iraqi leaders. They will train and fight alongside the Iraqis and help facilitate operations with other U.S. and coalition units operating in Iraq, the officer said.

Such tactics are nothing new. Special operations forces have used similar approaches for decades. What makes the situation in Iraq different, according to the officer, is that conventional troops, such as infantry or artillery soldiers, will serve as advisers.

"This is a fundamental shift in the way we approach the issue of training Iraqi forces," the officer said. "We are going to take people who are trained and experienced in military operations and ask them to be trainers. It's not going to be a totally smooth transition, but we can make it work."

The teams of advisers will be made up of senior leaders. They will work at the battalion, brigade and division levels, providing "like-leadership" support. For example, an Iraqi lieutenant colonel battalion commander will be paired up with a U.S. lieutenant colonel adviser, according to the officer.

At the national level, members of an advisory group will advise and assist the newly elected Iraqi government as it establishes a national command authority and a clear-cut chain of command over its military units, the officer said.

Accomplishing this large and complex task is going to require an open mind and flexibility on the part of the trainers.

"We have to keep in mind that this is not a static model. It's got to be dynamic, and we have to be flexible," the officer said. "The end state we envision is to not have a need for U.S. advisers at all."

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