By Multi-National Corps-IraqOctober 27, 2009
Since the Security Agreement has been implemented and U.S. Forces have turned over more responsibility to the Iraq Security Forces, there has been a growing shift in the mission toward partnership and advising, assisting and training in Iraq's cities. U.S. forces continue to conduct full-spectrum operations outside of Iraq's cities
"The Corps determined well prior to coming here that partnership was critically important. One of the ways of facilitating partnership has been a side-by-side operations center," explained Brig. Gen. Peter C. Bayer, chief of staff, Multi-National Corps-Iraq. "As our role has changed from being in the lead to supporting the Iraqi Army, we really have to change our mindset as well. U.S. Soldiers are used to being in the front, making the decisions and taking charge. Now it's imperative that the ISF demonstrate their abilities."
This change in role and mission requires leaders to ensure their Soldiers understand the importance of being good guests and good advisors, and helping Iraqis "take the lead."
"It starts with listening," he said. "Partnership is a two-way street. We can learn just as much from them as they learn about us."
Bayer said the Iraqis have been open to assistance from U.S. advisors, but now U.S. forces must patiently provide support as the Iraq Army takes the lead using their own military traditions and practices.
One example of this shift in mission focus for U.S. forces is the arrival of the first Advisory and Assistance Brigade in Ramadi. Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, took over their mission on Oct. 1 and are already making a difference. Within a few weeks, the unit jumped right in conducting joint medical and small unit tactics training as well as providing dive team support to a bridge project.
A platoon leader from Company C, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, said Soldiers in each Army are very similar. According to 2nd Lt. Preston Patton, the number one suggestion was "less powerpoint and more hands-on training."
The brigade will work with the ISF as well as advising assisting and enabling the provincial reconstruction teams as they build civil capacity. .
Dr. David Matsuda, cultural advisor to the Multi-National Corps-Iraq commanding general, said even if a Servicemember's interaction with Iraqis is limited, he or she can be effective just being a good ambassador.
"You may not have to speak the language, but if you can behave customarily toward them, in ways that give them honor, that give them respect, you can go a long way," he said.
U.S. forces continue to play a role inside the cities assisting, advising and enabling the Iraqi Security Forces. Troops are supporting provincial reconstruction teams and assisting in operations with medevacs and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
"The quality of our partnership will not only effect the current operational environment, but will also lay the foundation for our enduring relationship with the sovereign nation of Iraq for many years to come," Bayer said.