Army Reserve unit to train Iraqis under new program
ARLINGTON, Va. — By early December, the U.S. Army Reserve 98th Division (Institutional Training) will have its full complement of 700 soldiers in Iraq with the primary mission of expediting the training of the Iraqi military, the division commanding general said.
The soldiers’ mission is twofold: simultaneously train the Iraqi’s noncommissioned officer and officer corps, “training the trainers;” and offering specialized training such as transportation, engineering and medical procedures to Iraqi troops with basic combat experience, Maj. Gen. Bruce Robinson said.
The 98th Division, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., will be the first to put into action the Army’s new Foreign Army Training Assistance Command, created to overcome the difficulties coalition units now have in getting the Iraqi army up and running, Robinson said.
“This is a significant step in helping the Iraqis become self-sufficient in their own defense and security operations,” Robinson said.
However, the command has no baseline of length of time or number of Iraqi soldiers to be trained, making it difficult to measure success.
The time line will be dictated by the needs and desires expressed by the leaders of the Iraqi army, the quality of the soldiers and their ability to learn, Robinson said. The U.S. trainers will mostly work out of six training installations throughout Iraq with a goal of training more than 250,000 members of the security forces.
The activated 98th Division soldiers, 700 of a division of 3,600 soldiers who hail primarily from the New England states, New York and New Jersey, will be deployed for 12 months “boots on ground,” Robinson said.
The 80th Division out of Richmond, Va., is on tap to take over if the U.S. Army needs to continue the Foreign Army Training Assistance Command in Iraq beyond the 98th’s one-year mark, he said.