Status of MNSTC-I's Effort to Train and Advise the Iraqi Security Forces

Brigadier General Torrens-Spence offered the following information during a Civilian Defense Experts conference call on 15 February 2008 from 9:30-10:00am. 


MNSTC-I Mission:


The MNSTC-I mission is to train, equip, and generate the Iraqi armed forces and to build the ministerial and institutional capacity necessary to sustain these forces. 


MNSTC-I’s Four Areas of Focus:


MNSTC-I focuses on the following four areas in order to accomplish its mission.



Force Generation:  Fielding new forces and equipment

      -Improving Independent Iraqi Security Force (ISF) capability:  Training    combat enablers such as logistics, communications and intelligence specialists, as well as obtaining the infrastructure and equipment these specialists need to function.

     -Enhancing Institutional Performance:  Training staff members in Ministry of Defense (MOD), Ministry of the Interior (MOI), and ISF to plan operations and sustain forces more effectively.

     -Enhancing Professionalism and Ethics:   Mentoring members of the MOD, MOI, and ISF in order to halt corruption and sectarian acts. 


MNSTC-I rates its performance in accordance with progress in these four categories. 


MNSTC-I Progress Report:


Force Generation: 

  • MNSTC-I has had “no difficulty at all” in its ISF recruiting efforts. 

  • Recruiting stations are no longer the target of direct terrorist/militia attacks in the way that they were last year.  Attacks have shifted to formed ISF units.

  • This year (2007-2008), MNSTC-I incorporated 125,000 more personnel into the ISF. That is equivalent to adding 280,000 soldiers to the U.S. Army in one year.

                        -Approximately 60,000 more soldiers joined the Iraqi Army

                        -The Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) grew by 50%.

  • The Unit Set Fielding effort is going well.  MNSTC-I is fielding a new IA brigade every five weeks. 

  • Unit Set Fielding follows a ten week cycle.  MNSTC-I recruits 14,000 soldiers every five weeks, forms them into a single unit, conducts five weeks of training and then deploys the new unit into its own battle space.  This method is more effective than MNSTC-I’s previous attempts to incorporate individual recruits into pre-existing units.  

  • The raw force generation part of MNSTC-I’s mission is complete.

  • The large number of new recruits generated from 2007-2008 has caused some institutional stress It has, for example, been difficult to train and equip all the new personnel.

  • 20-25% of the Iraqi Army is absent at a time because soldiers must bring carry their pay home to family members.  This system was the same during Saddam’s reign and will not change until the Iraqi government builds a new finance infrastructure.  In order to adjust for these authorized absences, MNSTC-I is manning divisions at a levels above their authorized strength.  This year, MNSTC-I hopes to increase forces to an assigned strength of 135%. 


Improving Independent ISF Capability:


  • MNSTC-I is shifting focus to building combat enablers.

  • During 2008 MNSTC-I will place a high premium on building capacity in the following areas:




                        -Leadership (The effort here will focus on increasing the number of officers and Non-commissioned officers serving in the ISF.)


  • This effort will have the greatest emphasis and will be the largest challenge for MNSTC-I during the next year. Building the logistics, maintenance, and intelligence infrastructure that Iraqi forces require will be particularly difficult, but MNSTC-I has planned and initiated many programs that are showing some promise.

  • MNSTC-I is currently building a logistical infrastructure to support the Iraqi Army.  Each of the 13 IA Divisions will have a logistics base, a logistics battalion that operates from the base, and a general support battalion that manages and maintains the base’s infrastructure. 

  • There are also plans for two national depots that will be the IA’s primary maintenance and storage facilities.  One of these depots currently exists in Taji and is scheduled to open maintenance facilities this year for the following equipment:  tracked vehicles, wheeled vehicles, weapons systems, generators, and HMMWVEEs (Humvees).  There is also a training organization in Taji that is focused on combat service support (CSS) skills and is teaching soldiers to be mechanics, logisticians, cooks, and communications specialists. 

  • The United States currently funds MNSTC-I’s capacity building initiatives.  This year that responsibility will shift to the Iraqi government.  This is a risky, but necessary transition and will help the Iraqi ministries learn how to manage their resources better. 


Enhancing Institutional Performance:


  • Both the MOD and MOI improved in their ability to function as ministries from 2007-2008.

  • MNSTC-I mentorship, advisors, and the ongoing force generation drove this improvement.  The force generation in particular encouraged the ministries to streamline their operations in order to manage the large number of new recruits. 

  • MNSTC-I advisors are beginning to see better results in the MOD and MOI with regard to planning, budget management, and procurement, but there is still a way to go and Coalition assistance is necessary. 

  • Tracking the Iraqi Army down to the division level is now possible because the Iraqis installed HRIMS (Human Resource Information Management System).  This allows the IA to manage and account for its soldiers much more effectively.  As a result, the rate of unauthorized absenteeism in the Iraqi Army has lowered to 1.5%.




  • Instilling professionalism in the MOD, MOI, and ISF is a long-term effort and will have to address many cultural and societal issues/obstacles.

  • There are Inspector General systems in place within the MOD, MOI, and ISF that monitor their internal operations.  There is also an internal affairs directorate within the MOI that has successfully identified and removed corrupt personnel.

  • This year, the GOI passed military justice laws and established two functioning military courts in Basra and Baghdad.

  • In response to the Jones Report, Prime Minister Maliki directed that the Iraqi National Police be reformed internally and placed a new leader in charge, General Hussein.  The Italian Carabinieri also began teaching the INP and will have trained 8 battalions trained over the next year.  This combination of new leadership and professional training has improved the INP although the reforming the force is an ongoing process.

  • There are four cadet academies in Rustamiyah tasked with training Iraqi officers.  The course resembles the curriculum at Sandhurst, the British military academy and focuses primarily on tactics.  According to BG Torrens-Spence, the current cadets are 650 “fit, smart, and well-disciplined” recruits. 
  • BG Torrens-Spence also noted an increased sense of national pride in the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police as well as a sense of commitment and bravery among the civil servants.  He claimed that the new IP leadership is committed to ending corruption and the Iraqi civil servants are trying hard to do the right thing for their country.


The Iraqi Population’s Response:


  • MNSTC-I conducted independent polls that indicated a slight increase, between one and six percent, in the Iraqi population’s appreciation of the ISF based on the improvements made from 2007-2008.


*BG Torrens-Spence did stress that, while there has been improvement, there is still a lot of work to be done and the Iraqis will need continued assistance to keep these initiatives afloat.


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