While the Iraqi Army grows in numbers, what counts more is the increasing
number of trained, and combat experienced sergeants (NCOs) and officers showing
up. The Iraqi armed forces have long been regarded as the least effective force
in the Middle East. Arab armies in general, for cultural and political reasons,
are poor quality. Saddam had some decent units in his Republican Guard. But
these men were all Sunni Arabs, selected more for their loyalty to Saddam, than
for their military capabilities. Allowed to train, and given the best equipment
available, the Republican Guard could be depended on to stand and fight. But
against Western troops, they were quickly crushed. Thus it was necessary to
start from scratch after 2003, when the Sunni Arab led army was disbanded.
beginning of 2007, the Iraqi Army had
115 combat battalions, of which 93 could be used for combat operations
(although only about ten were good enough for offensive operations.) The
National Police had another 27 battalions. These were good for police work, not
for attacking areas held by a well-armed and determined enemy. Three months
later, the army had 171 battalions, while the police had 36. By the end of the
year, the army had 187 battalions (and about 200,000 troops), while the
National Police had 44 battalions.
has a basic training system that is turning out over 10,000 graduates a month.
More importantly, there are officer and NCO training programs that are
producing several thousand graduates a year. Iraqi NCOs and officers have been
getting combat experience over the past few years, and those who demonstrate
ability have been promoted and given positions of responsibility. This often
required pressure from American military advisors, since the pervasive
corruption still found in Iraq, continues to influence promotions and
assignments in the military. Many Iraqi politicians still can't comprehend the
need for merit promotions in the military.
happened during the two World Wars of the last century, where the vast majority
of officers and NCOs were civilians when the wars started, after two or three
years of fighting, you have a growing number of men who have survived because
of leadership and combat skills. Same thing is happening in Iraq, but this time
around the experience is being institutionalized, and experienced NCOs and
officers are systematically transmitting their skills to new recruit. The Iraqi
Army will never be the same.