Iraqi Defense Ministry woefully unprepared
After the United States has doled out about $24 billion during almost eight years of recruiting, training and mentoring, and furnishing weapons and equipment, "the Iraq Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and the army and police units they support do not have a supply system capable of maintaining operational readiness of the Iraq Security Forces."
That's one finding of a Defense Department inspector general's report released last week that assessed U.S. efforts to develop the logistical sustainment capability of the Iraq Security Forces.
The details are depressing. The report says the Defense Ministry is "generally dysfunctional" when it comes to "planning, programming, budgeting and execution processes."
Although the Interior Ministry has "matured" in its budgeting processes, it "could not effectively plan and contract to procure repair parts to support the Iraqi police vehicle fleet." For example, when the Interior Ministry requested the purchase of a $200 million helicopter fleet, it did not provide for spare parts, maintenance support or required infrastructure facilities.
With about $10 billion in military equipment on hand by end of 2011, Iraq would need about $600 million annually to maintain it, according to the defense IG. In 2010, however, the Iraq Defense Ministry allocated only $40 million for maintenance. Its processes for "identifying requirements, budgeting and executing contracting were broken," the report concluded.
Take the Iraqi army's system for allocating fuel to its commands.
The division commanders do not send their broken vehicles for repair, nor do they report those that are destroyed, because fuel is supplied based on the quantity and types of vehicles on their books. A local commander told the IG investigators that "it was more advantageous to keep unserviceable vehicles in order to continue receiving full fuel allocations and have enough fuel to operate the rest of his fleet."
American mentors are trying to get the Defense Ministry to change the fuel allotment policy so that it's based on operational needs rather than equipment.
The Iraqi army headquarters also provides an equal level of logistics support to all Iraqi divisions no matter what their operational needs. Thus, the 7th Division in Anbar province with an operational area of 160,000 square kilometers receives the same allocation of fuel and other logistics as the division stationed in Baghdad, which has an area of 100 square kilometers. As result, the 7th Division "could not carry out its mission to secure al-Anbar province because the fuel allocation was insufficient to operate division vehicles for the whole month," according to the IG report. The 7th Division commander requested a 200 percent increase in his fuel allocation, but there was no response from Baghdad while the DOD team was there.
In another issue, defense investigators found that Iraqi army commanders are also reluctant to send vehicles, such as armored personnel carriers, to repair facilities for fear that they won't be returned for a year or more, and then that they may not be working or may be stripped of parts.
Spare parts are also problematic. The Iraqi army's Joint Repair Parts Command stocked about 19,000 line items of which 3,000 were considered critical. However, all 3,000 were at zero balance when the DOD's IG team reviewed the command in March, though at the time, it had more than 11,000 requests for these items. The requests went unfilled.
"The end result was that 75 to 80 percent of the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] vehicle and weapons inventory was not adequately supported for repair parts through a functional requirements-driven process," the report said. It also noted that Baghdad had given no logistics support over the past five years to the Iraqi navy, which had to buy low-quality spare parts on the local market.