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'Big Red One' commander: Don't rush Iraqi training

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Here are today's headlines about Kansas military matters:Fort Riley[(Reuters) Don't Rush Training of Iraqi Forces: U.S. Commander:][1] A U.S. military commander warned on Dec. 7 against rushing the training of Iraqi security forces, a day after a top advisory panel recommended a substantial boost to the effort within the next year. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group suggested increasing the number of U.S. trainers embedded with Iraqi units to 10,000 to 20,000 from 3,000 to 4,000 now and a switch in the primary focus of U.S. forces to training from combat operations. Maj. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division that prepares teams of U.S. troops to embed with Iraqi forces, said he could boost his operations with more resources but Iraqi units also needed to gain experience. "This is experience that sometimes only time can bring," he told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. "I think we're all interested in being faster but we must also be careful not to make it so fast that it would put units in harm's way before they are ready," he said.[(Army Times) Lawmakers question leaders about transition teams:][2] Ham pointed to the difficulty of finding and keeping qualified Iraqi linguists and cultural experts to help train the teams. "Linguists and foreign language speakers are the toughest resource to get. So far we have been able to do that to the requisite standard. We try to get actual Iraqi and Afghan leaders to come and talk to our teams," he said, noting that about half of the team members have prior combat experience. Skelton asked whether the Iraqis being trained have the will to win. "The feedback is that the attitude of the Iraqi counterparts is very positive," said Ham. "They're concerned about capabilities and support from their own government, but understand the role they must play."[(CNN) Army's adviser training focuses on 'hardest part':][3] If the Pentagon follows the Iraq Study Group's advice on embedding more troops with Iraqi battalions, the first phone call might be to Fort Riley, Kansas. One of the recommendations in the study group's report urges the Bush administration to raise the level of embedded advisers from the current level of about 3,500 to as many as 20,000. There are now about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. At Fort Riley, an intensive training program is turning out teams of American advisers bound for Iraq. The teams are drilled on the latest counterinsurgency tactics so they can teach them to Iraqi soldiers. (Watch soldiers kick down doors in mock Iraqi villages Video) The Army centralized the two-month training program for embedded advisers at Fort Riley in June.[(Philadelphia Inquirer commentary) Two good ideas for Iraq in report:][4] The Army is already moving to change the situation, setting up a training program in Kansas headed by Lt. Col. John Nagl, a highly regarded veteran of Desert Storm and the current Iraq war. The hope is that by early next year up to 2,000 top officers will be trained every two months as embeds; this would get more and more Americans out of combat operations. Nagl is an expert on counterinsurgency, and how armies adapt to changing circumstances in conflicts they entered without adequate preparation. His book How to Eat Soup with a Knife looks at why the British succeeded in Malaya and the United States failed in Vietnam. Indeed, the last time U.S. advisers were used in strength was in Vietnam, under President Nixon's "Vietnamization" program; by then political support for the Vietnam War was waning, and the U.S. troop exit was on the way. [Listen to NPR interview with Nagl][5]Kansas National Guard[(Kansas Adjutant General's Dept. press release) 35th INFANTRY DIVISION CHANGE OF COMMAND:][6] A Change of Command ceremony for the 35th Infantry Division will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006, at Harney Gymnasium, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Following the ceremony, a reception will be held at the Frontier Conference Center. Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the adjutant general, will preside over the ceremony. During the Change of Command ceremony, Maj. Gen. M. Wayne Pierson will assume the responsibilities of Commanding General of 35th Infantry Division from Maj. Gen. James R. Mason. The 35th Division is headquartered in Leavenworth, Kan., and is comprised of Army National Guard units from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois. [1]: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=2409956&C=america [2]: http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2410202.php [3]: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/12/07/training.trainers/ [4]: http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/news/opinion/16190878.htm [5]: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6580346 [6]: http://www.accesskansas.org/ksadjutantgeneral/News%20Releases/2006/06-123.htm

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