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
"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
"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.