Iraq molding new NCO corps after U.S. example
April 29, 2011
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, April 29, 2011) -- The noncommissioned officer corps of the U.S. Army has become somewhat of a mold, lending its structure, organization and strong backbone as traits for other militaries around the world, specifically in Iraq, to take shape after.
Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, of United States Forces-Iraq, recently hosted a blogger's roundtable to discuss the progress in Iraq and the importance of the professionalism of U.S. Army NCOs during the training of the Iraqi Army.
"One thing I noticed was that the young Iraqi soldiers have a lot in common with our young junior Soldiers," Allen said referencing a recent trip to Mosul, Iraq. "I have noticed that a lot of Iraqi soldiers have befriended our Soldiers. A lot of bonds and professional development have occurred and they want to look exactly like us. They see how we conduct business, especially noncommissioned officers and troop-leading procedures, and they try hard to emulate that."
Allen pointed out that this is the first time the Iraqi Army has had an NCO corps built into its force.
"The reason that it's so important for us to grow the Iraqi Army, and that's our primary mission right now, is to train the Iraqi security force, mainly because we destroyed the Iraqi Army," he said.
"Because Iraq is important to the United States and important to this region, it's important for us to rebuild the Iraqi force. If Iraq doesn't have the capabilities of protecting itself, then, you know, we probably didn't finish our mission here. So the intent right now is to just to continue to train the Iraq security force and partner with them until such time as we receive orders to leave Iraq."
With the withdrawal from Iraq at the end of the calendar year approaching, Allen said Soldiers need to remain vigilant and on alert.
"The Soldiers are still very, very busy here in Iraq and we tell them all the time that we've got to keep our dukes up at all times," he said. "Iraq still remains a very, very dangerous place, and as Soldiers travel around the battlefield, they have to keep their heads on a swivel, and we constantly preach those kinds of things."
Allen also alluded to the difficulties associated with building a noncommissioned corps from scratch, especially when education plays a dividing role.
"But I think the biggest sticking point now is trying to build a noncommissioned officers corps to better enhance the command and control of the Iraqi army, which they're trying to do," Allen said. "But again, there are plenty of growing pains in establishing a noncommissioned officer corps, because they didn't have one. They didn't utilize them the way we [utilize] noncommissioned officers in the United States Army."
As the Army prepares to complete its mission in Iraq, more and more Soldiers will be pursuing development in their personal lives, namely their educations. Allen, who is in the process of completing his bachelor's degree, said he couldn't be more proud of the professionalism of troops and where the Army is today compared to when he first enlisted.
"Here in Iraq, I don't think there are very many (U.S.) Soldiers that [are] not involved in some kind of college program. I think for the most part, most Soldiers and definitely most noncommissioned officers have either a college degree, or are working on a college degree," he said. "So we've got some pretty smart guys and gals out there in our force."
Allen acknowledged the more difficult parts of the mission remain to be seen, but said he believes Iraqis are ready to take control of their own security efforts.
"Iraq is a very complex environment and I think that they're ready for the change. I think that not until some of the older officers and noncommissioned officers retire out of the military will the Iraqi Army fully adopt to some of the changes," he said. "They're all for it, especially the younger Iraqi soldiers."