This article shares lessons learned by the 307th Brigade Support Battalion
about the Iraqi Army logistics system and recommendations for U.S. forces
that are partnered with Iraqi units.
In August 2009, the logisticians of the 307th Brigade
Support Battalion (BSB), 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, deployed to Al Anbar province in Iraq to advise and train Iraqi Security Forces logistics units.
The 307th BSB headquarters was located at Al Asad Air Base, the hub of logistics in western Al Anbar and home to the 7th Iraqi Army (IA) Division headquarters. The 307th BSB pushed logistics support and training teams throughout Al Anbar, to include Camp Mejid, Camp Yasser, Baghdadi, Camp Hamza, An Nukhayb, Combat Outpost 160K, Fallujah, Habbaniyah, and Ar Ramadi. In each location, the 307th BSB was partnered with IA logistics units.
I was the headquarters and headquarters company commander and the officer-in-charge of developing IA logistics partnerships and training. In addition to commanding the company, my duties were to conduct key leader engagements with IA logistics commanders to determine training needs and then assign a suitable 307th BSB training team to each IA unit. I traveled to Iraq’s national logistics supply and maintenance depot at Camp Taji to learn the IA logistics system from both IA leaders and their U.S. advisers from the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Army.
|The Al Asad medium workshop commander works with the commander of the 7th Iraqi Army Division Motor Transportation Regiment maintenance company and the Al Asad medium workshop operations officer.
IA National-Level Logistics Organization
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) Deputy Chief of Staff of Logistics (DCOS LOG) oversees all IA logistics functional areas, including plans, ordnance, supply, the Taji National Depot, transportation and provisions, the Directorate of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (D–EME), logistics and operations, and the location commands. He published the MoD DCOS LOG Handbook in both Arabic and English, detailing how the system works.
The three main functional areas within the MoD DCOS LOG that pertain directly to the partnership
and logistics training offered by the 307th BSB
include the Taji National Depot, the D–EME, and
the location commands.
The Taji National Depot, located at Camp Taji in Baghdad, houses the highest level of maintenance in the IA. It is known as a fourth-line maintenance organization, and it is where the IA conducts wheeled and tracked vehicle restoration and repair.
The depot also houses the Joint Repair Parts Command (JRPC), which carries out fourth-line supply. JRPC is the Iraqi centralized national supply and distribution facility. It has numerous warehouses and open lots where JRPC receives, organizes, and distributes all class IX (repair parts) and new combat and nontactical vehicles.
D–EME is the final approval authority for vehicle code-outs and issue of heavy industrial supplies, which the Iraqis call the “big five” items: engines, transmissions, tires, batteries, and differentials. D–EME must provide direct authorization to JRPC to allow the release of heavy industrial supplies to the third-line maintenance units, called medium workshops.
The medium workshops are the highest level of vehicle repair and refurbishment at the regional level. The 307th BSB was directly partnered with two of the 13 workshops: the Al Asad medium workshop, which covers western Al Anbar province to include the 7th IA Division area of operation; and the Habbaniyah medium workshop, which covers eastern Al Anbar and mainly caters to the 1st IA Division.
Of major importance to the medium workshops is the Iraqi Asset Management Program (IAMP), an Internet-based portal that provides real-time work-order submission, information on replacement-parts availability at JRPC, replacement-parts ordering and tracking, and technical manuals translated into Arabic for download.
IAMP was originally developed in 2006 by a contractor named Anham, LLC, which was awarded the national maintenance contract for setting up what has become the medium workshops. Anham brought in its own mechanics and procured parts through its own logistics channels. Throughout Iraq during 2007 and 2008, Anham partnered with groups of U.S. mechanic advisers known as logistics training advisory teams and conducted vehicle maintenance and repair training with IA mechanics.
In 2009, Anham withdrew from all medium workshops to manage IAMP from JRPC at Camp Taji. Soon thereafter, MoD purchased the IAMP software program, shifting Anham’s role to training the IA in how to run IAMP themselves. Work orders and replacement-parts requests entered into IAMP by medium workshops are now reviewed and tracked by JRPC to manage national combat readiness and track parts availability and demand.
IAMP is similar to the U.S. Army’s Standard Army Maintenance System Enhanced (SAMS–E), making it easy for SAMS–E technicians to learn IAMP and assist their Iraqi partners. The 307th BSB employed a special IAMP administrator account with view-only access to review the IAMP accounts of all 13 medium workshops in Iraq. The information was used to generate discussions with medium workshop commanders concerning specific vehicles that they had difficulty repairing. The information was also used to assist with the development of maintenance training plans and to shadow-track parts requests to JRPC and D–EME.
The last major functional area that pertained to the 307th BSB was the location commands. The location commands, in coordination with the base engineer, run facilities and installation life support for IA bases. They maintain power generation stations, buildings, and fuel storage and retail sites. They also run dining facilities and ensure that the bases have clean running water, proper sewage water disposal, and suitable gate security.
The location commands are partnered with the logistics military advisory teams (LMATs), which are part of the Iraq Training Advisory Mission-Army program. The LMAT is designed to advise and assist the location commands with their facilities management. As part of the drawdown of U.S. forces, the Camp Mejid LMAT, composed of five U.S. Navy personnel, relocated to Ar Ramadi and consolidated with the Habbaniyah LMAT, leaving room for the 7th IA Division military transition team (MiTT) (a Marine Corps unit) and the 307th BSB to step in and assist.
IA Division-Level Logistics Organization
IA divisions have two lines of maintenance: the motor transportation regiment (MTR) and the field factory workshop (FFW), which facilitate first- and second-line maintenance, respectively. At Camp Mejid, the 7th IA Division MTR facilitates first-line maintenance for the 7th IA Division headquarters and distributes supplies to its four brigades.
The size of western Al Anbar province, stretching to the borders of Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, presents significant challenges to the 7th IA Division’s ability to deliver supplies and to curb maintenance and replacement-parts requirements. In addition, each brigade has its own first-line maintenance and supply platoon that the Iraqis call the repair platoon. The 307th BSB maintenance company partnered with the MTR and conducted numerous key-leader engagements with its logistics officers and provided wheeled vehicle repair and welding training to its maintenance company.
If the first-line maintenance unit (the MTR or repair platoon) is unable to make the repairs or does not have the necessary repair parts, broken vehicles and replacement-part requests go to the second line. The second line of maintenance is conducted by the 7th IA Division FFW located at Camp Mejid.
The FFW uses IAMP offline to input work orders and replacement-part requests. Personnel then copy the information on a computer disk and upload it to the online JRPC national database at the medium workshop. If the FFW is unable to make the necessary repairs or does not have the repair parts, it escalates the issue to the third-line medium workshop, also known as the garrison support unit. The 307th BSB was partnered with and conducted both IAMP and maintenance training with the FFW and the medium workshop.
At the division level, the Iraqis also have a second-line supply unit named the 7th IA Division Ordnance Park (OD). The OD handles all classes of supply other than class IX, which is handled by the FFW. The OD uses the 7th IA Division’s supply officer (G–4) to route supply requests up the chain of command. The division G–4, with approval from the 7th IA Division commander, routes the supply request through the regional support unit (RSU), located at Habbaniyah. The RSU supports the entire Al Anbar province, including both the 1st and 7th IA Divisions. The 307th BSB’s distribution company was partnered with the OD.
The Advisory and Assistance Mission
Typically, arriving U.S. military units conduct a relief-in-place and transfer of authority (RIP/TOA) with outgoing units of similar size and capability, so logistics units would swap out with other logistics units. However, in Al Anbar province, the 307th BSB was deploying into a Marine Corps area of operations. The cross-service transfer added the challenge of differing ranks, counterparts, and cultures.
The 307th BSB, being part of the first “production model” advise and assist brigade that the U.S. Army had developed or deployed, was without a direct unit to conduct the RIP/TOA. Therefore, we began our partnering mission by contacting the 7th IA Division MiTT, a small Marine Corps team.
The 307th BSB quickly discovered that the MiTT was not designed to conduct advisory, assistance, and training missions to a division-sized unit. Therefore, the 307th BSB’s highly-trained and well-equipped logisticians, including armament technicians, ammunition specialists, fuel experts, light and heavy wheeled vehicle mechanics, welders, medics, doctors, and warehouse specialists, moved forward with a comprehensive training plan.
Initially, the plan was based on the needs and requests identified during key-leader engagements, but within a few months, the partnership and training became so robust that it took the combined efforts of the 307th BSB company commanders, training teams, support operations functional experts, and operations shop to coordinate, prioritize, and execute training and assistance requests.
The IA has a lot of respect for the knowledge and capabilities of the U.S. Army and was very receptive to training opportunities. IA soldiers know that a truly successful army is not just measured by its ability to shoot, move, and communicate but, most importantly, by its ability to sustain combat power over a prolonged period with its own logistics units and supplies. They acknowledge that U.S. forces are departing soon and they must learn critical sustainment knowledge quickly.
The 307th BSB embraced its IA counterparts and created an active partnership and training program. To facilitate reaching out across Al Anbar province to the 27th, 28th, and 29th Infantry Brigades of the 7th IA Division and to engage the 1st IA Division, including the Habanniyah medium workshop, the 307th BSB developed a mobile training team. The mobile training team had a logistics expert from each of the 307th BSB’s military occupational specialties to assess the IA soldiers’ knowledge and specific challenges at each location and to conduct prescribed training.
Based on requests from the 7th IA Division commander, I developed a training program specifically designed for IA logistics lieutenants and captains. The program is based on MoD logistics doctrine and includes lessons learned from the Taji National Depot (fourth-line maintenance), the JRPC (fourth-line supply), the D–EME quarterly conferences, LMATs and logistics training advisory teams, and working with top IA logistics leaders from the MoD level down to the junior officers.
The training program was conducted in both Arabic and English. Each IA officer student received compact discs that contained MoD doctrine, course presentations, IA modified tables of organization and equipment for each of its units, and all published logistics technical manuals translated into Arabic.
The IA’s Major Obstacles
The 307th BSB identified facilities management, replacement parts, and medical care as the IA’s greatest challenges.
Facilities are managed by the location commands in coordination with the base engineer and include power generation stations, water pumping and treatment plants, wastewater disposal facilities, and fuel storage and distribution facilities. At Camp Mejid, home of the 7th IA Division headquarters, LMAT advisers spent over $11 million to build an industrial-sized power generation and distribution station that includes 10 1.1-kilovolt generators.
At one point, 8 of the 10 generators were not operating and the main switch was blown. Fixing the power generation problem was costly and time consuming. The problem left 7th IA Division soldiers without power for several hours a day and scrambling for small generators to power individual heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units and, in some cases, making fires to keep warm.
The 307th BSB’s water tests found that Camp Mejid’s potable water drawn from a nearby oasis well was contaminated with E. coli bacteria and was unfit for human consumption. This forced the Iraqis to ship potable water from Al Baghdadi (which also tested positive for contaminants). Furthermore, the 4.4-million-liter fuel pumping station at Camp Mejid was devoid of fuel filters, fuel water separators, and a fuel circulation system.
The IA maintenance units also struggle with computer and electrical-based repairs. For example, the U.S.-made M1114 high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle adopted by the IA as its main combat vehicle is a sophisticated piece of machinery involving a computer-based operating system. The Iraqi mechanics find the wiring and computer-chip replacements difficult to understand and repair.
They have also resisted the adoption of IAMP, a real-time online supply ordering database and combat power tracking system that quickly allows JRPC to understand which replacement parts are in the highest demand. If the IA stops using IAMP, they will move backward to a pen-and-paper ledger system, thwarting progress into the digital age and dramatically slowing an already painfully slow replacement-parts ordering, approval, and delivery process.
The third major obstacle faced by the IA is medical and dental care. The 307th BSB medical partnership expert conducted medical training and assessments at the Camp Mejid medical clinic many times. She found medical officers who were biologists and chemists, but none who were school-trained doctors.
|The supply officer of the 7th Iraqi Army (IA) Division military transition team (U.S. Marine Corps), the commander of the 7th IA Division Motor Transportation Regiment (MTR), the commander of the 307th Brigade Support Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and the commander of the 7th IA Division MTR maintenance company stand together in November 2009.
The 7th IA Division does not have a doctor, physician assistant, or dentist. The medical staff does not include a school-trained nurse or dental hygienist. The IA’s few medics scarcely have the knowledge of a typical U.S. Army-trained combat lifesaver. (The combat lifesaver course is a 40-hour block of medical training provided to most U.S. Army Soldiers.) A lack of training leads to a lack of understanding of how the human body works and, therefore, misdiagnosis.
Another major obstacle the Iraqis must overcome is a lack of formal education and training. According to a United Nations Environment Programme study conducted in 2003, Iraq is the 6th most illiterate country in the world, with 59.6 percent of its population unable to write a short, simple statement on everyday life.
Saddam Hussein made education free to all Iraqis, but his policies also directed against the use of televisions, cell phones, or the Internet and stifled Iraqis’ ability to keep up with the outside world. Technology and opportunity opened when Iraq was liberated in 2003. Iraq quickly embraced what the world had to offer in terms of technology, but it will take time and modernized education systems to fully harness the technologies.
One course of action might be for the United States to ask the United Nations on behalf of Iraq to assist with funding and developing a plan to energize Iraq’s national education system at every level. The plan could include training for skilled trades; civil, electrical, and computer engineering; and medical professions of all types. Through developing Iraq’s educational system, trade and professional skill sets organic to Iraq will allow Iraqis to thrive in a modern era.
A much smaller but much more quickly achievable step that U.S. forces can take during partnership and training events is to provide paper copies of technical manuals translated into Arabic and reinforce preventive maintenance checks and services as a part of the daily routine.
Recommendations for an Advise and Assist Brigade
If available, dedicate a partnership cell within the BSB operations section that includes a captain, lieutenant, and sergeant first class or above. The cell will require at least two category II interpreters, preferably U.S. citizens. The noncommissioned officer in your partnership cell should centrally manage all interpreters across the battalion. Ensure the cell studies Iraqi culture and language prior to deployment. A book worth reading before arrival is Understanding Iraq by William R. Polk.
Contact U.S. advisers who are part of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Army to schedule personnel to attend the Counterinsurgency Stability Operations Course Logistics Conference, visit the Taji National Depot (including the JRPC), and download and study the MoD DCOS LOG Handbook.
Finally, obtain point-of-contact information for the trainers of the IAMP from the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Army. Each member of the partnership cell should attend the 5-day IAMP course.
This article is an overview of the IA logistics system, the challenges it faces, and the humble recommendations of the 307th BSB. We trained, advised, assisted, and befriended hundreds of IA soldiers and their senior leaders throughout Al Anbar province. We hope that the efforts of the 307th BSB will enable our Iraqi partners and follow-on U.S. forces to take the next steps toward the long-term self-sustainability of the Iraqi Security Forces.