An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.
The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.
As I mentioned I had been invited to a Blogger's Roundtable call today with LTG James Dubik who is the new Commanding General of Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq. Also a part of the call was Gen. Abadi, who is Vice Chief of Staff of the Iraqi General Staff.
It was an extremely interesting call and as promised, I asked about the problems with the National Police citing the above story and the purported recommendation from General Jones and whether or not they were considering what Jones is alleged to have proposed.
He said he's prefer to give Gen. Jones the courtesy of reading his report and recommendations before commenting on them, but then went into some detail about the National Police. LTG Dubik said there's no question that there are problems of a sectarian nature within the police force and the Minister of the Interior is taking the steps necessary to address them.
As you recall, I spoke with COL Mark French about this earlier and he outlined a four step program through which the entire police force was being stepped. LTG Dubik essentially validated that as the process. The steps were:
1. Establishment of a single-site National Police training center through which all National Police are trained. It is also where any retraining takes place. That is in effect now.
2. Examine leadership and get rid of leaders who are aligned, promote or enable the sectarian divide (or are just inept or corrupt). Both division commanders, all 9 brigade commanders and 17 of 27 battalion commanders were relieved. As Gen Dubik said, the good news is the MoI is taking action. The bad news was he had to take that much action. He said there are currently 2,000 active cases within the NP that are being pursued by its internal affairs section.
3. The Carabinieri type training I discussed here. It's a "train-the-trainer" type program where 1 bn from each bde will have its leadership trained and then go back and train the rest of the bde's leaders. As you know the Carabinieri are Italian national police and are acknowledged to be among the best. Gen. Dubik said that training facility is almost complete and the schedule has the program starting in October.
4. Reposition the NP out of Baghdad. Give them the opportunity to start over, gain the trust of the people, etc. That obviously won't happen until the logistics piece, which still lags (but we're assured is getting better) is in place. At the same time, per Gen Dubik, the MoI will be doing an assessment as to the size of the NP. It is at that time, I assume, that the purported recommendations of Gen. Jones will be considered.
I didn't mention it on the call, but my guess is they'll end up being configured and missioned much like COL French described in his call and to me that's the obvious point of the Carabinieri training:
French described them as a "bridging force" between the local police and the Iraqi Army, much like the Italian Carabinieri. They are a national civil security force that will, it is hoped, be the "first responder" to any situation which is more than local police can handle. If successful, that would then allow the Iraqi Army to concentrate on external threats.
Given that I'd expect that they will end up being both a much smaller and more elite force as will be recommended by Gen. Jones (and I'd speculate that since Gen. Jones visited Iraq and I'm sure was briefed up on this program, he's included as a recommendation that which is most likely to come to pass anyway).
A point LTG Dubik made when asked what he'd like for people in the US to better understand had to do with growing the Iraqi Army. Said Dubik, in the last 18 months, they've "grown" the IA by 2 Divisions, 7 Brigades and 16 Battalions.
What he'd like everyone to understand is:
1. You can't grow leaders as fast as you can recruit and train soldiers and stand up units.
2. It is very hard to line up equipment and supplies concurrent with standing up a unit.
3. You can't construct bases as fast as you can stand up units.
4. The new units are usually employed before they're fully trained because they're engaged in a war.
So what he wants people to appreciate is the complexity of doing what they're doing. He likened it to the US going from "zero to sixty in 3 seconds" as they stood up an huge army for WWII. He said they're running into exactly the same type problems there and, it should be remembered, they're standing this army up in the middle of a war and with an 18 month old government. Lots to still be worked out, but they're getting there.
And speaking of training leaders, he was asked about the NCO corps. Gen. Abadi stepped in on this one and said that in the old Iraqi army there really weren't any NCOs. NCO duties were preformed by junior officers. Consequently the NCO role is new. So they're in the middle of what Gen. Dubik characterized as a "decade long project" to stand up, train and deploy a competent NCO corps. They've set up a professional development program (select, train, promote) and they're sending candidates through (the top 10% of every basic training class, for instance, is selected for NCO training).
Last but least, an interesting discussion about 17 "SIB" units. Those are "Strategic Infrastructure Battalions". What they've done is formalize the "concerned citizen" programs and in some cases put these people under the Iraqi Army in these formations. They are locals who stay in the local area and guard the key infrastructure, but are now on the IA payroll. Another group will be formed into units under the Minister of the Interior as police. So these units are local people ensuring the local infrastructure and communities are guarded and protected against terrorist and insurgent activity.
Gen. Abadi stepped in on this one and said that in the old Iraqi army there really weren’t any NCOs. NCO duties were preformed by junior officers. Consequently the NCO role is new. So they’re in the middle of what Gen. Dubik characterized as a "decade long project" to stand up, train and deploy a competent NCO corps. They’ve set up a professional development program (select, train, promote) and they’re sending candidates through (the top 10% of every basic training class, for instance, is selected for NCO training).
That concurs with what this article said a few years ago. It also brings up an interesting point. If the Iraqi army reaches the level of professionalism sought in this program, and the armies around them don’t have it, that might be an interesting deterrent to neighboring fundamentalists.
and the armies around them don’t have it, that might be an interesting deterrent to neighboring fundamentalists.
Sadly enough no it won’t be, Billy. Neighboring fundamentalists will remember the "old" Iraqi Army, and believe that the Iraqi Army is only good as long as there are Americans there. Plus, they are fundamentalists, they don’t listen to their military, which isn’t really going to tell them anything they don’t want to hear. As Cordesman calls it, "Lying to please." AFTER Iran or Syria have their heads handed to them in several skirmishes they may change their view, but not prior, and ergo no deterrence.
I think what this article really demonstrates is the extreme difficulty of creating effective police structures in the Third World. It took Europeans centuries to achieve what they have, and then only after centuries of abuse, mass arrests, repression, false imprisonment and torture. I think you will discover that it is EXTREMELY unlikely for any nation to repeat this experiment successfully. Please do not point out nations that have made the transition, as: 1) They are the exceptions that prove the rule 2) Facts that get in the way of my thesis. I think the best response to those exceptions is simply to say, "Nyah-Nyah I’m not listening. And you are only saying what you want to believe so don’t quote any history to me."
I think many of you would benefit from my Pro-Sem "Why We in Maine Say, ’Why Anything Takes Centuries To Do, and It’s Not Worth Trying Outside of Europe, Unless You Just Want Believe What You Want To Believe. Now Please Go Away.’"
On topic: I am very glad to hear that more Iraqi army units are being made.
Off topic: Yahoo News headline today is "Iraq militias fight for control as U.S. influence wanes." This is evidenced in the story by the recent fighting between Badr and Sadr militias that have left dozens dead.
That is a very, very deceptive headline if you ask me. In Iraqi terms, a few dozen dead doesn’t seem to be more than a normal day there, and how is that proof that our influence is waning? Did Sadr’s reaction reflect a situation where rival militias are duking it out while ignoring the government and US forces? Uhhhh, no. He tried to call a cease fire.
I’m wondering what the next move will be for AQI and the Shi’a insurgent groups. Their current strategy is dead - the people have rejected them. Since,like us, they can adapt, any thoughts on they might do? The only thing that makes sense to me is for them to follow North Vietnam’s final strategy - pull back, wait for Congress to cut off the money, then finish the job in a year or two. Others?