By Staff Sgt. Brock Jones
Multi-National Division – Baghdad
BAGHDAD – The first Iraqi government-led pay period of monthly wages to the more than 26,000 Sons of Iraq in Baghdad, began on Nov. 10, and winds down, Nov. 20.
The long-anticipated payday by the government has been viewed as an important step forward in the relationship between the GoI and the SoI and was a show of the GoI's commitment to take care of its "Sons."
"The Government of Iraq has followed through on its commitment to pay everyone," said Lt. Col. Arnold Csan, a native of Huntington, N.Y., who serves as the chief of the civil affairs planning team and is the division SoI officer with 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
"The reality at this point is over 93 percent have been paid the $300 that the Government of Iraq promised them, which is the same thing we were paying last month," Csan said.
This month, 26,327 SoI were scheduled to be paid in Baghdad proper. As of Nov. 19 – 24,810 had been paid their salaries, according to data tracked by MND-B officials.
The transfer of the SoI to Iraqi government control, which placed the responsibility for care and payment of the SoI on the shoulders of the GoI, was planned for and rehearsed by officials from the Iraqi government, Iraqi security forces and U.S. Forces since well before the Oct. 1 transfer.
There were concerns regarding possible attacks during the pay period and other potential problems, but the actual paydays went fairly smooth.
"We knew there were going to be minor issues – there are always minor issues," said Csan. "I use this one analogy: Right now there are 50,000 SoIs [in Baghdad province]. You line 50,000 U.S. Soldiers up, and I dare you to find that there were no pay problems whatsoever. [It's] the same situation."
One of the issues that surfaced was that some of the SoI leaders hadn't been paid their full salary as of Nov. 18 because when the money was drawn for the payday, the extra amount they receive for being leaders was not taken into consideration. Plans were quickly set in motion to establish dates to pay the SoI leaders the rest of the money owed them.
With the first pay period over, the focus of all parties involved now moves to the future of the SoI. Next month's payday and the eventual transition of the SoI into the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army or into other meaningful and productive employment are the next steps in the process.
"The [next] step is then to transition the Sons of Iraq – 20 percent of them will transition into the Iraq security forces and, over time, the remaining 80 percent will transfer to other government jobs [or other forms of civilian employment] according to their qualifications," said Brig. Gen. Robin Swan, a Pittsburgh native, who serves as a deputy commanding general with 4th Inf. Div. and MND-B. "The government of Iraq is committed to the ... transition that will occur. We have every confidence that will occur. In the mean time, the Sons of Iraq will continue to perform their security functions throughout Baghdad province until they transition to other employment."
Until that transition is final, MND-B leaders and Iraqi government and ISF officials will continue to conduct partnered roles during future payday operations.
"We've been doing this [conducting paydays] with our Iraqi partners out on the street now for three iterations," said Csan. "The first two they observed us doing it. This time we're observing them, and next time we'll continue to observe them because this is all about a partnership."
"As it goes on, we'll continue to monitor the paydays because it is something that is in our battle space."
The pay system will be looked at and refined for next month, with this month's pay rosters generating next month's pay rosters and so on, said Csan.
"It's about really tightening the shot group."
The MND-B plan and long-term operation to transfer the SoI to Iraqi government control and to transition the SoI into permanent forms of employment is known as "Ironhorse Commitment," and was started months before the first pay period began. Through the shared commitment of all partners involved – the Iraqi government, ISF and SoI leadership and U.S. military leaders – future paydays and the continuing transition toward permanent employment for the SoI will continue down the path established by that shared commitment.
|Date Posted:||11.19.2008 13:53|
This work, Sons of Iraq paid their 'dues' by Government of Iraq/GoI continues efforts to assist SoI in securing permanent employment, by 1SG Brock Jones, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.