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Logistics Partnering Lessons

While deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 07–09, the logistics training and advisory team (LTAT) of the 47th Forward Support Battalion (FSB) “Modern Pioneers,” 2d Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, executed numerous partnership events. The 47th FSB (now the 47th Brigade Support Battalion) was tasked with the mission of training and mentoring the 9th and 17th Iraqi Army (IA) Divisions on logistics. The objective was to teach a method of self-reliance that would enable the Iraqi logisticians to sustain and equip their army.

Over the course of the deployment, the Pioneers conducted more than 55 classes and trained more than 300 IA soldiers from the two divisions. The LTAT provided weekly training to the divisions based on the logistics priorities of their G–4s and motorized transportation regiment (MTR) commanders. Training topics included maintenance operations, supply management, driving, convoy security, staff development, and medical support.

Introduction to the Command Team

Before initiating each partnership, the Pioneers participated in a key leader engagement—one of the most critical initial steps in any partnership. Through these engagements, the command team built a bond and a sense of mutual respect with the IA command team. Establishing a relationship with the leaders ensured that the IA trusted the Pioneers and felt comfortable working with them to determine how best to use the LTAT personnel to train, give advice, and make recommendations to the IA command, staff, and soldiers.

Getting Started

The first step was to create the LTAT, which comprised subject-matter experts from all fields of logistics. The LTAT members were required to attend a 5-day course at the Phoenix Academy in Camp Taji, Iraq. There they learned how to provide relevant and viable sustainment training packages for maintenance, supply, medical, and other readiness support in order to achieve IA self-reliance. The attendees also learned the logistics policies and procedures of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense.

Next, the Pioneers provided the 9th and 17th IA Division G–4s and the 17th IA Division MTR each with an embedded liaison officer (LNO). The LNOs served as liaisons among the command teams. They were beneficial for situational awareness, planning, and tracking procedures. The LNOs provided a constant presence for mentoring and training the division G–4 and his staff on a daily basis. It was vital for the LNO to support and show faith in the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense procedures throughout all training and assistance.

The embedded LNOs took the lead in finding the IA’s daily logistics problems and then provided the IA with recommended solutions to their problems. The LNOs advised IA personnel on how the IA system should work and helped them build the confidence needed to address their problems through the IA system, using the coalition force only for reporting and follow-up procedures.

Best Practices

The LTAT initially trained each IA soldier separately from the officers and senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs). But the LTAT personnel soon discovered that the more they interacted with the IA soldiers, the more the lower enlisted soldiers came to the LTAT instead of their own leaders for guidance.

The LTAT eventually focused on developing strong, confident leaders. One method used was to train the leaders for a day or two and then have the leaders present the class they had just attended to their soldiers. This worked very well with the developmental staff courses and the supply classes, but it did not work as well with other classes that had more technical information. For example, the senior leaders were unable to teach the maintenance course with confidence, so the LTAT had the senior leader assist the LTAT trainer in presenting the information. Although it was not IA led, this kept the IA leader in the front of the class, which built the confidence of the IA soldiers in their leaders.

The LTAT often used a “crawl, walk, and run” method of training for the IA soldiers. Since all of the personnel had a different level of knowledge in different areas, it was easier to start with the basics to ensure that all personnel learned the necessary tasks.One procedure the LTAT found to be useful was to use a sign-in roster. The IA platoon leaders and junior staff officers had a hard time planning and managing personnel for future training and missions. On many occasions, the LTAT would start a training series with one group of personnel and end it with an entirely different group. The implementation of sign-in rosters helped the trainers assist the staff officers and platoon leaders to more accurately manage their personnel training. This also kept the LTAT from training the same person twice and allowed the students to move on to training that was more technical.

Because the sign-in rosters could be used to verify course completion, the LTAT was able to present the IA personnel with certificates during an awards ceremony. The certificates, which were signed by the 47th FSB commander and command sergeant major, certified the recipients to train their soldiers in a formal training environment. The award ceremony gave the IA soldiers a great sense of pride and accomplishment, which made them eager to continue training at the next level. The IA leaders and soldiers wanted the coalition forces to know they were capable of performing their missions, and for some, this was the first certificate of schooling that they ever received. The IA was proud of the things that they learned and would constantly request feedback from coalition forces. It is important to always let the IA know how well both the leaders and soldiers are doing and how much their efforts are appreciated.

The LTAT often used practical and written examinations during training. The IA students were required to pass the practical exams to advance to the next training event. This allowed the LTAT to monitor their progress and ensure that they were retaining the material being covered. After implementing this step, it became evident that the IA personnel were following English instructions and understanding coalition force equipment better than the trainers thought. During after-action reviews, the IA soldiers expressed how intimidating the English instructions had initially been to them because most of them did not speak or read English. (Many did not even read Arabic.) Yet with the training they received, they were able to understand the instructions clearly. This was vital because most technical manuals for their equipment have not yet been translated into Arabic.

Staff Development Course

Another beneficial event was the Staff Development Course, which was a 2-day block of staff-related training for 17th MTR instructors (usually two or three officers or NCOs). The course was led by the 17th MTR military transition team (MiTT), which was partnered with the MTR in January 2009 to mentor and train them alongside the Pioneers. After attending the course, the IA instructors presented a 3-day block of instruction to their staff officers and NCOs.

Each MiTT facilitator structured the class presentation to meet the content of the course. For example, during the staff estimates class, each student was required to develop an estimate for a mission and apply the concepts learned to a hands-on application. The most difficult constraint was keeping the students enrolled in the class. However, after adjusting the program of instruction to allow leave opportunities within the 17th MTR, the program flow was much smoother.

During the Pioneers’ partnership with the 17th IA Division MTR, one of the most beneficial events was the staff visit to Camp Striker, where the Pioneers hosted selected MTR command and staff members at a site visit of their shops and commodity areas. Each visitor was matched with his coalition force counterpart. The visit gave the MTR staff a firsthand view of the situations that a coalition force logistics battalion faces while providing support to its BCT and the courses of action that have been either effective or ineffective. The Pioneers also wanted to illustrate to the 17th MTR how they conducted sustainment operations for the 2d BCT, coalition, and Iraqi Security Forces during OIF 07–09. The visit gave the MTR a firsthand explanation of why and how the Pioneers train and advise the MTR.

The train-the-trainer concept was very beneficial because it removed the language barrier from IA soldiers’ primary instruction. The ease and accessibility of the class placed the LTAT and MiTT one step closer to transitioning ownership of the training to the IA leadership, which is one step closer to the IA’s self-reliance.

Chief Warrant Officer (W–2) Julian Price is the brigade ammunition officer for the 24th Brigade Support Battalion. He served as the logistics training and advisory team officer in charge while deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom 07–09. He is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Candidate School and the Warrant Officer Basic Course.

 
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