"A quarter or so of a typical Iraqi unit is on leave at any one time. Since Iraq lacks an effective banking system for paying its troops, soldiers are generally given a week’s leave each month to bring their pay home.Not exactly encouraging...
Desertions and absenteeism are another concern. According to the August Pentagon report, 15 percent of new recruits drop out during initial training. Beyond that, deployment to combat zones, the report adds, sometimes results in additional “absentee spikes of 5 to 8 percent.”
As a result, the actual number of Iraqi boots on the ground on a given day is routinely less than the official number. In areas where the risks and hardship are particularly great, the shortfall is sometimes significant. In fiercely contested Anbar Province in western Iraq, the day-to-day strength of the Seventh Iraqi Army Division in August was only about 35 percent of the soldiers on its rolls, while the day-to-day strength of the First Division was 50 percent of its authorized strength.
Another complication is that the even-numbered divisions in the 10-division army have largely been recruited locally and thus generally reflect the ethnic makeup of the regions where they are based. So, much of the Iraqi Army consists of soldiers who are reluctant to serve outside the areas in which they reside. Several battalions have gone AWOL rather then deploy to Baghdad, an American military officer said."
25 October 2006
Boots on the ground
The New York Times explains some of the difficulties with the Iraqi army: