BAGHDAD, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The Iraqi navy will nearly double the amount of personnel in its force by 2010 as foreign contracts boost fleet numbers, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.
Rear Adm. Mohammed Jawad, head of the Iraqi navy, and Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a spokesman for the U.S. military, briefed reporters on the progress of the Iraqi navy, saying naval personnel are working with coalition forces on patrols off the southern Iraqi coast.
Jawad said the navy has less than 2,000 personnel, but that number is expected to reach 3,000 by the end of 2010. He added Iraq has contracts with several foreign firms to build patrol ships and expects to receive 26 combat vessels by October.
The Iraqi rear admiral credited joint patrols between the Iraqi navy and U.S.-led forces in the region with doubling revenue from southern terminals in the first half of 2008, adding, "What happened in the commercial terminals escalated the trust and confidence for the naval dealing with Iraq."
Jawad said several naval personnel had received training at foreign military schools, noting 27 divers joined the Qatar Diving School to enhance their capabilities.
Driscoll said the Iraqi navy lacks the technical and management expertise to assume full security responsibility, adding it takes about a decade to train top naval officers for U.S. forces.
The U.S. spokesman added transfer of security to Iraqi naval forces would be established on a "conditions-based' assessment.