But very very important -- and absolutely vital to sustaining an effective fighting force, especially one you expect to deploy away from its home base. And as the Iraqi Army becomes increasingly deployable (just within Iraq's borders, of course), its creaky, corrupt and anemic logistics system must catch up. It's Army Brigadier General Terry Wolff's job to help.
"At the top we're trying to get them to stand up a support command," says Wolff, commander of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team based in Baghdad. That, he says, is a first step to buidling a supply and maintenance organization that can see to the needs of Iraq's ten divisions and half-dozen independent brigades; several brigades have deployed to Baghdad from their regular stomping grounds in the north or south in order to work alongside the U.S. Army in suppressing insurgent activity in the city.
There is a simultaneous effort to improve Iraq's national depot at Taji -- staffed by around 1,000 logisticians -- by adding maintenance facilities, which should be in high demand as Iraq brings on increasingly complex weapons and vehicles including I-LAV blastproof trucks.
The other missing piece, once the command and the depot are up and running at full capacity, is motor transport. "Nine divisions have motor transport regiments for the distribution of supplies," Wolff says. In some cases these 700-man regiments and their several dozen trucks connect directly to the national depot; in other cases they draw material from five regional depots that are like spokes to Taji's hub.
But to get supplies from the port of Umm Qasr to the depot, Iraq is still relying on Western contractors. And since Iraq has just three dilapidated C-130Es to its name, the U.S. still conducts the vast majority of aerial supply runs. What's more, at all levels, Iraqi logisticians continue to lean on U.S. and coalition advisors -- and will for the foreseeable future.
--David Axe, cross-posted at War Is Boring