By Mr Paul J Stevenson (USASAC)January 31, 2012
Redstone Arsenal, AL -- The United States lowered its flag in Baghdad December 15, 2011 officially ending the American military mission in Iraq. Two of the major factors in setting the conditions for the for American forces withdrawal were the capacity and capability of Iraq to provide for its own security needs.
Since 2005 the United States Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) has assisted the government of Iraq in building both the capacity and the capability of its security forces in moving toward self-reliance. A key element of that assistance has been the sale of critical material and services through Foreign Military Sales (FMS).
"USASAC has played a major role in providing the government of Iraq with a wide range of equipment and services," said Logistics Management Specialist Ryan Calvin. "Support through the FMS process has ranged anywhere from teaching 10-level (basic) tasks to Iraqi Soldiers and setting up basic computer networks, to (procuring) heavy weapons systems and sophisticated support equipment," he said.
Once USASAC began opening FMS cases to support the rebuilding of Iraq, it was immediately recognized that expedited service was the reality for all requirements, as the program value and number of cases grew exponentially. Responding to the need for focused Army FMS actions in theater, USASAC established the Intensive Management Office (IMO) in 2006 to interact directly with the Multi-National Security Transition Command -- Iraq (MNSTC-I) and the government of Iraq(GOI).
USASAC Washington Field Office Director Dave Dornblaser headed the IMO from June 2008-October 2010. As FMS cases totaled roughly $6.4 billion in FY08, the efforts by the IMO yielded positive results.
"We reached the high-water mark for FMS sales in Iraq between 2008 and 2009," said Dornblaser. "Not only were we executing cases for large quantities of heavy equipment such as HMMWVs, tanks and helicopters, we cut the standard case processing time from an average of 120 days down to 62 days. This happened because everyone from our LNOs to country program managers and case managers realized the importance of their efforts and looked for innovative ways to ensure success."
One example of innovative measures applied to execute the Iraq program was the transfer of M1114 up-armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) to the GOI. In December 2007, the Army determined the most cost-effective way to rapidly equip the Iraqi security forces with armored maneuver capability was to repair and transfer displaced HMMWVs.
As the U.S. ramped up production and fielding of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles in Iraq, the Army initiated a program to refurbish HMMWVs to fully mission-capable status for direct transfer to Iraqi forces. This program satisfied an urgent Iraqi requirement and avoided a major retrograde and the expense of returning the vehicles to the U.S.
By partnering with USASAC, the Iraq security ministries have made significant strides toward Iraq self-reliance. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Counter-Terrorism Bureau have fully embraced the U.S. FMS program as a major component of their defense strategy.
Today, with USASAC managing approximately 200 cases totaling roughly $5 billion, the U.S. Army FMS support has enabled Iraq security forces to expand in number, increase in quality, and establish organizational structures outfitted, in most cases, with modern U.S. equipment.
"One of the reasons our troops were able to get out of Iraq is Iraq's large scale use of FMS to equip and train their security forces and first responders," Calvin said. "USASAC played a key role in helping to establishing a well-equipped and trained Iraqi defense force capable of securing Iraq, which helped set the conditions on the ground to allow our Soldiers to return home."
The withdrawal of U.S. forces does not end the Army's relationship or commitment to Iraq. USASAC will work with the government of Iraq well into the future as the Army FMS community continues to build and cultivate long-term relationships while providing "total package" support throughout the life-cycle of the FMS process.