Monday, February 25, 2008

The Man with the Hardest Job in the World

Last night we had a bit of a surprise. We were paid a visit by Sergeant Major of the (Iraqi) Army Adel. He has possibly the hardest job I can imagine; build the NCO corps of the new Iraqi Army. The old Iraqi Army paid no heed to it's NCOs, it was a very Officer-centric/Soviet model force. So SGMA Adel has to fight not only to get his NCO corp built from almost scratch, he has to overcome an old and entrenched cultural problem. Training, doctrine, logistics and organization are all problems that he is facing. Oh, and all this during a war. I don't envy him his job one little bit.

SGMA Adel is probably the best of the old Iraqi Army's NCOs, and he joined the new Iraqi security forces as soon as possible in 2003. It is clear that he wants to serve his country and her army.

In answering questions, he made it clear that our Transition Teams assistance would be invaluable to him. OK, SGMA Adel, I'm in.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anchorage, AK

9:38 PM  
Blogger KG2V said...

Wow, now that is a hard job, and NOT one that can be done overnight (just like you can't make good scotch overnight)

I wish him a great deal of luck

I think back, how did we do it in the US? Probably by importing NCOs from either the British (aka the moved to the colonies) or from a core of the Prussians/French that helped us.

Anyway, when I look back at US history, we were blessed by having a BUNCH of good men in the right place at the right time, and a bunch of outside help. I hope Iraq ends up blessed the same way. Thing is, looking at history, the odds are not good (but D*** the odds - gotta try)

8:12 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

The US Army developed its own 'culture' of Officer/NCO/enlisted over the history of the US--not by importing anything.

That said, I agree with the Major that SGM Adel has a very hard job--but if he's successful, its going to pay off big time for the Iraqis.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be very interesting to see a Middle Eastern modern army that can win a battle.

They are building it right now, the same way the Israeli's did it on our model.


8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The US Army developed its own 'culture' of Officer/NCO/enlisted over the history of the US--not by importing anything"

Well, we inherited the excellent NCO system of the British. Credit where credit's due, there.

That being said, most folk who have never been in the military have no concept of the importance of the the NCOs. But then, in civilian life, most folk who are not upper level managers don't appreciate good middle-level managers either -- and how hard it is to get good people who can bridge the gap between management and line in either world.

The big question is whether or not the *officer corps* can be trained to recognize and respect their NCOs and give them the room they need to do their job. When I was in the Army, you could often tell which young officers were going to do well and which were not by how they viewed and effectively used their NCOs.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking from a US Navy perspective, say what you will about the American NCO system but HOMESTLY admit the gradually diminished duties & responsibilities (power & authority) of the American NCO since WWII.

The gradual peace time build up of political correctness, risk adversity, ticket punching, etc is a disease that calcifies the arties of the American NCO.

FTN Shipmates

9:05 AM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

The NCO Corps is the glue that holds a volunteer army of a democratic Nation together. Our ability to have a military system that is accountable to civilians in a volunteer situation depends heavily on the NCO and War College system. Looking at that last year, Creating an Army in Iraq that has esprit de corps, lineage, accountability, capability and adaptability are things not summoned from nowhere.

The analysis done by de Atkine in Why Arab Armies Lose Wars is critical to bridging the distance between non-western, authoritarian views and that of western liberal democratic views of the relationship between the State, the individual and the armed forces.

Seargent Major Adel does, indeed, have the toughest job in the world and a historical one: he will be the first to do this for an Arab democratic state. He is in the strange position of creating something that should grow out of a society before the society has fully adapted to what it is they are growing into. If he is successful in standing up a capable, competent and accountable NCO system, supported by staff college, then the views learned by those inside the army, when they go home, will begin to change Iraq. He can start that tradition so that those that follow have something to live up to.

Much thanks! Like reading about the effectiveness of the IG system, this gives me great hope for the future of Iraq and its armed services.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Major John,

You did indeed meet the man with the hardest job in the world.

I saw some of what passed for an Iraqi Army NCO back in 2005. I certainly could admire their experience, and ability to survive. The latter was amply reflected by the fact that they existed at all, albeit each and every one with visbile chunks out of their bodies or other after affects from the Iran-Iraq war.

But it was clear that they had had no place of leadership, other than as virtual jail wardens, or low level enforcers of whatever whim the officer corps directed. They did not share in decision-making, they were not mentors to their soldiers. The officers, of a different social class entirely, viewed them, if at all, with obvious disdain.

But some few knoew something about motivating and leading men.

But amid everything else they had to deal with post Saddam, against terrorists, fighting an abivalent or hostile public, the job looked almost insurmountable in 2005.

Like everything else since whatever you define as a tipping point, it looks like this is beginning to look hopeful, as well.

(That they even HAVE a CSM of the Army is a big step.)

11:32 AM  
Blogger RightWingNutter said...

You're right, that is the hardest job in the world. But if he's successful...

Iran and Iraq fought each other to a bloody standstill in the 80's. Iran's military is unlikely to have improved in the years since. In our two wars on Iraq's military we did in less than six months total what Iran couldn't do in eight years.

Now the Iraqi Army is learning how to fight like we fight. The unit tactics being taught by our Marines and Army to theirs are a part of it. The in depth command structure that Adel is working on setting up is another big part. If that happens, the Iraqi Army would be able to go through any forces coming in from Iran (or Syria) like a hot knife through butter.

Don't think Iran doesn't know this. Adel is in the crosshairs. Lets keep him prayed for and safe.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought leading this Brigade was a challenge. I will stand with him.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He is in the strange position of creating something that should grow out of a society before the society has fully adapted to what it is they are growing into."

Rather like integration in the United States starting in the military. It can happen, and I wish him well. From the sound of it, he's got the drive.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The latest MCPON's could take a few pointers.
Retired Petty Officer

6:20 AM  

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