ARLINGTON, Va. — The Iraqi army has too many officers in the lower and higher ranks and not enough in between, said Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, who is in charge of training Iraqi security forces.

Iraqi army units have 73 percent of the officers they need, but it is short of majors, lieutenant colonels and new colonels, said Dubik, head of Multi-National Security Transition Command–Iraq.

“Sergeants are the same way,” Dubik said Tuesday. “We have 69 percent of all that are authorized, but most are in the junior ranks, not enough in the senior ranks, and that will take a while to even out.”

The problem is due in part to combat losses that Saddam Hussein’s army suffered in the war with Iran, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, said Lt. Col. Dan Williams, a spokesman for MNSTC-I.

Since then, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels in Saddam’s army have gone on to become general officers in the new Iraqi army, Williams said in a series of e-mails after Tuesday’s briefing.

Another reason for the gap between junior and senior leaders is the Coalition Provisional Authority’s decision to ban middle or upper tier members of the Baath party from public service, Williams said.

“However, with the recent passing of the de-Baathification law, now the former officers and NCOs can join the military and some are doing this,” Williams said.

The Iraqi security forces have recruited 10,086 officers and 18,000 NCOs who served under Saddam, of which 1,836 officers and 9,212 NCOs joined the Iraqi army in the last six months of 2007, he said.

Among the new “junior colonels” — lieutenant colonels and new colonels — are captains and junior officers from Saddam’s army who were given some officer reintegration training and promoted to a higher rank to fill shortages in field grade, Williams said.

On the enlisted side, MNSTC-I is trying to create a professional NCO corps from scratch, since NCOs in Saddam’s army had little or no authority, he said.

Dubik said the Iraqi government is trying to build more senior enlisted leaders by taking the top 10 percent of graduates from boot camp and making them corporals.

“The thinking is that this cadre of corporals will ultimately grow over time to become squad leaders, platoon sergeants, first sergeants, sergeant majors,” Dubik said.

So far, MNSTC-I has seen “very mixed success” in building senior enlisted leaders, said Anthony Cordesman, an expert on strategy with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In Saddam’s army, junior officers did the tasks assigned to NCOs in the U.S. military but they “rarely were willing to get their hands dirty,” Cordesman said in an e-mail Wednesday.

“The NCOs that did serve did little more than enforce discipline and perform basis administrative functions,” Cordesman said.

It is not clear whether MNSTC-I can change the Iraqi army’s culture to allow for a successful NCO corps that officers can rely on, he said.

In August, Dubik told reporters and bloggers that building a professional NCO corps for the Iraqi army would be a “decadelong deal,” according to American Forces Press Service.

On Tuesday, Williams said that time frame also applies to creating field grade officers, noting it takes three years to go from lieutenant to captain, seven years to become a major, and another five years before becoming lieutenant colonel.

“These junior to midlevel field grade positions are still experiencing a lag that only time and experience can fix,” Williams said.

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