October 5, 2005:
On September 27th, the Iraqi Joint Staff College was reopened. Established in 1928 as the Iraqi War College, it trained staff officers and senior commanders since then, until it was closed after the 2003 invasion. The school is now running two courses. One, for junior (staff) officers, is 7.5 months long and has fifty students. The other, for senior officers (mostly commanders) is 9.5 months long and has 40 students. NATO played a major role in training the new faculty of the college, with instructors from Italy, Denmark, Poland, Estonia and Britain contributing officers to train the nine Iraqi colonels, and fifteen lieutenant colonels who will serve as instructors. When the college was first founded, the training was based on the British model. But during Saddam’s rule, Russian advisors, and doctrine, were introduced. Now, NATO doctrine will be introduced, which will make it easier for American and Iraqi troops to operate together.
Iraq has a severe shortage of trained staff officers and commanders. Since 1928, the vast majority of the officers trained have been Sunni Arabs. Moreover, during the last three decades, students were increasingly selected mainly for their loyalty to Saddam. This meant nearly all the graduates were Sunni Arabs who were loyal to Saddam. Thus staff school graduates still in service (those who graduated in the last decade or so) are not generally considered loyal to the new government. Indeed, many have been captured or killed while working for the Sunni Arab terrorists trying to get themselves back into power.