December 19th, 2006 05:20 EST
Iraq military advisor training mission taken on by Big Red One
BAGHDAD — An entire Army combat division has been given the mission of training U.S. military advisors for duty within Iraqi Army and Police units, a senior U.S. military official said here Sunday.
The U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., is now responsible for training U.S. advisors for service in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Advisory Group, told members of the media during a news conference at the Combined Press Information Center.
The change represents “a huge investment,” Pittard said, noting two brigade combat teams based at Fort Riley also are committed to training advisors.
Pittard said he works in tandem with Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander of the Coalition Military Assistance and Training Team, who also attended the press briefing. Pittard and Wolff, oversee the military advisors that support the Iraqi Army, the National Police, and the Department of Border Enforcement.
“We really cover two different areas, but have very, very similar goals, and that is to support the Iraqi Security Forces,” Pittard said.
Wolff said his organization’s some-460 advisors principally help train the Iraqi Army and Navy and also assist these forces in building their logistical capabilities. A portion of Wolff’s advisors are assigned at some 21 Iraqi military and police training centers and schools, he said.
A total of about 5,000 U.S. advisors are now assigned to training or mentoring duties with Iraqi Army or police units, Pittard said.
“We’re excited about where the transition teams have come from and where the transition teams are going,” he said.
A good news story is that some Iraqi security units have already reached high readiness levels, Pittard said. Consequently, embedded U.S. trainers in those units are being reassigned to other duties, he said.
Ongoing training of Iraqi Security Forces is “conditions-based” and keyed on improving the readiness and professionalism of those forces, Pittard said. A year ago, there were just two trained Iraqi Army divisions and a couple of brigades. Today, there are 10 Iraqi Army divisions and about 36 brigades, he said.
“They don’t have to be coaxed to fight,” Pittard said. “They will fight. And the (U.S. military training) transition teams are part of that.”
(Courtesy of Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service)