U.S. plans improvements in Iraqi chain of command

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The United States plans to improve the chain of command within Iraq's military and security forces.

U.S. officials said many of the failures of the Iraqi army and security forces during the Shi'ite revolt in central and southern Iraq stemmed from the absence of an effective chain of command. They said the Iraqi command was unclear and officers refused to impose their authority on troops.

Officials said the United States plans to train special operations forces within the army and security agencies, Middle East Newsline reported. They said this would ensure quality Iraqi operations.

"The truth of the matter," U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said, "is that until we get well-formed Iraqi chains of command, all the way in the police service from the minister of interior to the lowest patrolman on the beat in whatever city it may be, and the same for the army, from private to minister of defense, that it's going to be tough to get them to perform at the level we want."

Abizaid said the U.S. military has launched an effort to improve the Iraqi chains of command. He said this would include the appointment of former senior Iraqi officers in the security forces as well as in the Defense Ministry.

"In the next couple of days you'll see a large number of senior officers being appointed to key positions in the Ministry of Defense and in Iraqi joint staff and in Iraqi field commands," Abizaid said. "With regard to the new Iraqi army, I think we can look for better performance in the future once we get a well-established Iraqi chain of command."

Abizaid and other officials acknowledged that in most cases Iraqi security forces merely fled the battle with the Shi'ite Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada Sadr. They said Iraqi officers and their troops were unprepared to do battle.

"We're taking a very hard look at it and we are going to make some changes because we want to understand what we must do better," Abizaid said.

"Clearly, there are things that we have do better with the police. Clearly, there are things that we've got to do better with some specific units. Some of it has to do with leadership. Some of it has to do with vetting. Some of it has to do with training. But most of it has to do with time and confidence, which is what we're going to have to work on the most."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, said Iraq's military and security forces would require more than an improved chain of command to ensure effective operations. Sanchez said Iraqi troops remain undertrained and underequipped.

"It's still going to take us a significant amount of time to ensure that they are properly equipped, properly trained and credible and capable with their countrymen, to bring us security and stability," Sanchez said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts

Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives