BAGHDAD -- One of the major efforts of the U.S. advise and assist mission in Iraq has been the development of a strong and capable noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps.

On Dec. 18, the senior NCOs of 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division-Center, began the process of fostering a strong relationship with the NCOs in their partnered unit, the Iraqi 1st Federal Police Division.

"Historically, the Iraqi military has been in the Soviet officer-centric mold," said Command Sgt. Maj. William Bauer, command sergeant major of 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment. "Now, with the U.S. working with them, we'll see if that changes. Their officers have to see what their NCOs are capable of."

While enthusiastic about the potential of the 1st FP's NCOs, Bauer said they have a long way to go in their development as leaders within their organization.

Along with Bauer, several other senior NCOs from 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, attended a dinner as a way for the U.S. and Iraqi leaders to get to know each other. The event was hosted by Sgt. Maj. Maky H. Mansor, sergeant major with the 1st Federal Police Division.

Perhaps the most critical facet of this partnership is the professional development of the FP's NCOs, a process which begins with the command sergeant major.

"The command sergeant major is the key link in the NCO corps," said Master Sgt. David Rogers, information operations coordinator with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment.

With the Iraqi military and police so focused on leadership from its officer corps, attempting to enhance the stature of senior enlisted personnel will be a challenge, Rogers said.

"We don't have as much focus on their NCOs as we should at times, but now our command sergeant major is making it a focus," Rogers said.

Increasing their capabilities starts with interaction, Bauer said.

"For (Iraqi) policemen, seeing the interaction between their senior NCOs and ours will have a great effect," Bauer said, emphasizing the effect the relationship with American senior leadership can have on reinforcing the credibility of the FP's NCOs.

Bauer said as far as he is concerned, these effects can already be seen in the reputation Maky now holds in the 1st Federal Police Division.

"(Maky) seems to wield an unlimited amount of respect from his (policemen) and has a strong leadership presence," Bauer said.

Moving forward, the senior NCOs in 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, said they hope to build on the relationship established over their first dinner with Maky. The importance of that relationship is not lost on Bauer.

"I plan to visit (Sgt. Maj.) Maky at least four or five times a week," Bauer said.

His efforts, along with those of his fellow NCOs, will be critical in leaving the 1st Federal Police Division with a capable and competent force upon which the Iraqi people can rely.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16