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U.S. to boost training on insurgent tactics

Iraq school to help troops counter attacks by rebels

WASHINGTON — Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, is so concerned that the military's counterinsurgency training must be sharpened in the face of increasingly flexible and deadly attackers that he has ordered the formation of a new school in Iraq for officers, according to senior military officials.

The school, which will open in the next few days at the Iraqi military base in Taji, north of Baghdad, will be for Army and Marine battalion and company commanders immediately after they arrive.

It is seen as a clearinghouse where field commanders can pass on the latest tactics and situations in the country. Among the topics will be patrol methods, techniques to find and destroy roadside bombs, and education on the various insurgent factions. And in the long term, it is hoped that the format can be passed on to the new Iraqi army and security forces.

Soldiers and Marines now receive some counterinsurgency instruction in the United States before shipping out to Iraq, but some senior commanders have expressed concern that the instruction has been uneven and lags behind the fast-changing tactics insurgents use in Iraq.

The academy, which will give intensive one-week courses, is an effort to focus officers immediately on the task at hand.

The school opens its doors amid signs that few inroads are being made against the insurgents despite recent offensives by American troops and despite months of scrambling to train more Iraqi troops. At least 92 Americans were killed in Iraq in October, the highest monthly toll since January.

The effort is the latest reflection of the emphasis the military has been placing on counterinsurgency education.

In the past few weeks, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus has begun using his experience as the former top trainer in Iraq to infuse counterinsurgency lessons throughout his new command, the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where doctrine is written and where mid-level officers go to graduate school. Last fall, for the first time in decades, the Army issued a field guide to counterinsurgency warfare, an acknowledgment that the kind of fighting in Iraq may become more common in the years ahead.