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Iraq Army Deploying On Time

"Now the soldiers draw an additional $120 on top of their $300 base salary and $100 hazardous duty pay as soon as they are notified of their deployment. They get two weeks training in their home station followed by another two weeks of collective training on a range near Baghdad. The Iraqi ministry of defense intends to use the Baghdad deployment process to establish deployability as a core competency of all of its divisions, according to Dempsey. The even-numbered divisions tend to be drawn from a single region. The odd numbered divisions are made up of soldiers recruited from across the nation."
by Staff Writers
UPI Correspondent
Baghdad (UPI) Feb 13, 2007
A top U.S. general says that the Iraqi army brigades tapped for duty in the Baghdad troop surge have shown up on time and with -- for the most part -- the promised number of soldiers. "This movement of these three brigades and two separate battalions into Baghdad to our way of looking at it has gone very well," said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, in an interview Monday with United Press International.

"We've also learned more lessons from this one and in future deployments we'll make it even better," added Dempsey, the man in charge of the U.S. military's role in standing up Iraq's own security forces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate in January the arrival of those Iraqi brigades by mid-February would be an important litmus test of whether the Iraqi government was serious about securing its capital city.

The 3rd battalion, 1st Brigade of the 3rd Division from Al Kasik, and the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade of the 4th Division from Tikrit, both arrived in Baghdad on time at about 70 percent strength, Dempsey said. The 4th Brigade of the 1st Division from Habbaniyah arrived in Baghdad with 75 percent strength.

One unit of one battalion of the 3rd brigade, 4th Division from Suleimaniyah and Kirkuk in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq came down with only 56 percent of its expected troops. Another battalion in that brigade is inbound.

"We think that unit will get here at 70 percent," Dempsey told UPI.

The next unit to come will be the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division out of Irbil, also a Kurdish unit. Dempsey said they are expected to arrive at 85 percent strength.

A battalion has 759 soldiers at full strength. A brigade is three battalions plus 200 soldiers, about 2,500.

Though those percentages would be dismal by American standards for a deploying unit, a different calculus applies in Iraq. At any given time, one-quarter of an Iraqi unit is on leave bringing their pay back home to their families because there is no national banking system.

Add 25 percent to the above percentages, Dempsey said, and you get what portion of a unit did not deploy for some other reason. About 10 percent of the units remained behind to guard their garrison buildings.

"You know what happens if you walk away from a building in this country," Dempsey said, referring to the looting and vandalism common in unsecured public facilities buildings.

"So when you do all the math, we are a little concerned and remain so about one of those brigades," he said, referring to the Suleimaniyah unit. "But the (Joint Headquarters) is plussing it up."

"We know that about 17 percent of that unit chose not to deploy, and those soldiers will be dismissed from the service and we'll replenish the ranks," he said.

The Baghdad security plan envisions Iraqi units rotating into the city for three months at a time and then being replaced by another unit. The total deployment is six months, including two months of initial training and then one month to redeploy back to their home stations.

The deployment to Baghdad demonstrates real progress, according to Dempsey. Last September the Iraqi government promised but failed to provide three battalions.

"Our aspiration was to get the battalions from 4th Division and the 10th Division (from Basrah)," he said.

"None of them showed up."

"Immediately of course everyone assumed it was a lack of courage and a lack of commitment to national unity," he said. "Maybe, maybe not. We do after action reviews. And we determined there is of course a percentage of units that failed to move because of a lack of courage and commitment. But that was in the teens."

Dempsey said the rest didn't deploy because local officials, families and the units -- comprised of soldiers from the surrounding areas -- did not understand why they should leave their homes unprotected to go fight in Baghdad.

The deployment was also presented as open ended; a return date was not outlined. There was no monetary incentive like combat pay, and the units did not receive any additional training for the operation.

"You couldn't find a less well coordinated activity," Dempsey said. "We learned from it."

Now the soldiers draw an additional $120 on top of their $300 base salary and $100 hazardous duty pay as soon as they are notified of their deployment. They get two weeks training in their home station followed by another two weeks of collective training on a range near Baghdad.

The Iraqi ministry of defense intends to use the Baghdad deployment process to establish deployability as a core competency of all of its divisions, according to Dempsey. The even-numbered divisions tend to be drawn from a single region. The odd numbered divisions are made up of soldiers recruited from across the nation.

The Baghdad Security Plan Iraqi command structure has a single Iraqi army general overseeing the entire operation. He has two deputies, one on each side of the Tigris. Each of those officers has a deputy - a police general if the deputy is in the army, and an army general if the deputy is in the police.

The city is further broken down into 10 sectors with a brigade assigned to each, and three battalions operating in each area. Every sector also has a U.S. unit assigned to it, with the Iraqi army, Iraqi police and U.S. unit occupying the same headquarters for ease of coordination and force protection.

Source: United Press International

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