Thursday, April 13, 2006

U.S., Iraq Commanders Dislike Leave Rules - Yahoo! News

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi commanders are increasingly critical of a policy that lets Iraqi soldiers leave their units virtually at will — essentially deserting with no punishment. They blame the lax rule for draining the Iraqi ranks to confront the insurgency — in some cases by 30 percent or even half. [snip]

The commander said a shortage of troops is the unit's biggest problem — and pinned the blame on both the policy and unmotivated soldiers.

"Under the military agreement, they can leave anytime," said Col. Alaa Kata al-Kafage, while his troops waited for a roadside bomb to be detonated. "After (soldiers) get paid and save a little bit of money, they leave."[snip]

Some Iraqi officers believe the casual attitude toward unauthorized absences is a good thing because it helps morale among young soldiers who have never been away from home and joined mostly because they need money.[snip]

Added Maj. Gen. Jaafar Mustafa, an Iraqi army officer in Sulaimaniyah: "We do not want any soldier to stay against his will, because this will affect the performance and the morale of the Iraqi army. By giving the choice for the Iraqi members to stay or leave, more people will volunteer in the army."

Let me stop there for a second and say what a bunch of crud that is. Every person needs limits, goals and expectations to focus their efforts and determine if they are meant for the job of being a soldier which is not part time unless it is a reserve or National Guard component. Which seems to me is what is missing here. Maybe more people would be interested in being citizen soldiers in Iraq on that basis. It would be less money, as is ours, and training would be slower, but it would certainly decrease cost and allow for a closer community supported troop. It might even be able to replace the political militias as the local security forces made up of all local citizens with relations to the local and to the central government.

The issue here, of course, is the other political and security problems which forced our commanders to drop the multiple force construct of the Iraq security forces and roll them up into the one: Iraq Army. An army which seems to operate more like a poor National Guard then an army.

I come to this conclusion based on this part of the article:

U.S. trainers also frequently criticize the Iraqi army's leave policy, which grants soldiers 10 days off a month and further trims the ranks of available troops.

Ten days. We've known all along that was a problem. Its been complained about by officers and enlisted in the US army for the last two years.

The other problem, of course, is that this Iraq army is in the middle of a war and it has an impact:

Large-scale insurgent attacks have intimidated many Iraqi soldiers into abandoning their posts.

In the town of Adhaim north of Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers said two insurgent ambushes in December — one that killed 19 troops, and another that killed eight soldiers and wounded about two dozen more — cut their battalion of about 600 soldiers in half.

"We lost altogether about half of our battalion," said Akid, a 20-year-old soldier from Diwanayah treated for a gunshot wound at a U.S. military hospital in Balad at the time. "They gave up." [snip]

In the Qaim area near the Syrian border, dozens of soldiers complained last month that they had not been paid in months. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense has struggled to build an infrastructure to both supply and regularly pay its troops. Iraqi soldiers also often live in dilapidated barracks that are slowly being refurbished.

Honestly, its nothing more or less than the Continental Army pre-Von Stuben at Valley Forge. It shouldn't be shocking in the least.

U.S., Iraq Commanders Dislike Leave Rules - Yahoo! News

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