Arab armies have never been very good at logistics, and the Iraqi
armed forces were among some of the worst offenders. So providing the new Iraqi
army with adequate logistics support is a major effort. This support includes
ordering, stockpiling and delivering supplies, as well as equipment maintenance
and medical support.
major problem is that there's no older system to build on. For one thing, all
the former Iraqi army logistics officers were Sunni Arabs, whose loyalty is
suspect. But it's not their political views you have to worry about the most.
It's the corruption factor that is the biggest obstacle to establishing an
effective logistics organization. Training Iraqis in the technical skills required
is easy, compared to getting them to believe that honesty is the only policy
that makes this work. If anyone involved in the long chain of handling supplies
is crooked, the combat troops won't get what they need.
it's not just corruption in the logistics units, but in the army as a whole.
Senior commanders are too prone to just reassigning logistics troops to other
duties, then complaining to their American advisors that they have no
logistical support. Fortunately, not all Iraqi officers are corrupt, or
logistically inept. But the more of them there are, the larger your logistical
problems are going to be.
now, the Iraqi army needs about 40,000 logistics troops. Only about half of
those are on duty, and not all are trained, or trustworthy. Proficiency begins
at the top, and in a democracy, the elected officials appoint the heads of the
Defense Ministry (and other ministries that require logistic support, like
Interior). Too often, these ministers, or their immediate subordinates, are stealing.
And these thieves will appoint other officials and officers who are also
thieves. But worse than the stealing, is the impact it has on operations.
Troops who don't get paid, fed, supplied or equipped on time, do not perform
very well, if at all. There's no magic solution to curing this problem, it just
takes time and effort. This sort of thing has been cured before. Indeed, all
the highly efficient Western nations went through this corrupt phase, and some
were worse that present day Iraq. But the cure isn't going to appear overnight.