Coalition Team Assists in Building Combat Force
By Seaman William Selby, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 4, 2008 A joint effort between the Coalition Army Advisory Training Team and the Iraqi Defense Ministry will have completed the Iraqi prime minister’s objective for force generation by the end of the year, a senior military official said yesterday.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s objective is to build a force to combat the insurgency, Army Lt. Col. Daniel Swanson, deputy director for future plans and force generation for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq’s Coalition Assistance Army Training Team, said in a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers.”
“The prime minister has stated that his end objective for his counterinsurgency force is 13 divisions,” Swanson said. “Each division consists of four brigades, and each one of those brigades is a three-battalion brigade.”
Swanson said that because Iraq’s enemies are insurgents, the prime minister realizes the importance of generating ground forces rather than field artillery.
After their initial training, Iraqi soldiers are sent to “unit set fielding,” where they meet their leaders for the first time, Swanson said.
“The soldiers, during unit set fielding, become cohesive, and they go through driver training, weapons qualification, crew serve training, and a combat lifesavers course,” he said.
Indicative of the progress the Iraqi forces have made, Swanson said, is that one of the two brigades in Iraq’s Basra province fighting insurgents is a force-generated unit.
“We have members embedded at the schools to observe, participate, coach, teach and mentor the Iraqi army as we conduct the training,” Swanson said.
However, Swanson said, logistics continues to be a major problem for Iraqi forces. The logistics continue to improve, but they are not where they need to be yet, he said.
“All I can say is that we’re generating and supporting the Iraqi logistics and sustainment program through what we force-generate,” he said.
“This war is certainly a challenge,” Swanson said. “And it’s not over, but I hope to build the Iraqi army so that they can sustain, maintain, and fight their battles, which they are doing, and standing up to the plate and doing that for the Iraqi people.”
(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)