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Iraqi National Police in training.
Iraqi police officers undergoing firearms training with pistols, at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq

The Iraqi Police Service (IPS) are the uniformed Territorial police force responsible for the enforcement of civil law within Iraq. The current organisation, structure and recruitment practice was guided by the Coalition Provisional Authority following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The command of the police belongs to the reformed Government of Iraq under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior. The abbreviation "IP" is used to refer to Iraqi Police, while the abbreviation "ISF" is usually used to refer to the broader "Iraqi Security Forces"[1].


Organization and Oversight

The Iraqi Police forces are part of the Ministry of Interior. It is currently under the command of Major General Hussein Jassim Alawadi.[2]

The Multi-National Security Transition Command (MNSTC), is a U.S. military organisation tasked to train, mentor, and equip all Iraqi civilian security forces. MNSTC-I also has the stated goal of training their counterparts in the Government of Iraq to eventually completely assume their role.


The Iraqi Police are formed into three main branches.

The Iraqi Police Service (IPS)

The Iraqi Police Service is a uniformed organisation, that is tasked with the general patrol of Iraq's cities, along with responding to incidents within them.

An Iraqi police river unit patrols the Tigris River

The National Police (NP)

The National Police is a paramilitary organisation designed to bridge the gap between the police and the army. It responds to incidents that are beyond the capabilities of the IPS, but are not serious enough to involve the Iraqi Army in domestic incidents, The NP can be called in by IPS if the situation is getting dangerous

Supporting Forces

The Supporting Forces are made up of the remaining supporting organisations, primarily the Department of Border Enforcement which is tasked with securing Iraq's borders and ports of entry, and the Iraqi Prison Service which maintains Prisons. The Facilities Protection Service also operates, which is responsible for the protection of buildings owned by the Iraqi Government.


Iraqi Police officer receiving arms training

The Iraqi Police Service uniform commonly consists of a long sleeve slight blue shirt with black or light blue trousers, or combat blue combat trousers like the United States Navy. To signify their status as Police officers, they have been known to wear a dark blue baseball cap with "POLICE" in white lettering. They also wear a blue brassard on the left arm, with the Iraqi flag embroidered on it, along with "Iraqi Police" embossed on it in both English and Arabic, along with body armour, and PASGT helmet.

The National Police has recently adopted a new type of uniform, consisting of pixelated black and blue camouflage uniform similar to the US Army Combat Uniform[3], which includes a baseball cap, body armour and PASGT helmet. NP uniforms are issued once the officer has completed training, officers that are yet to undergo training can be found in a variety of uniforms including woodland camouflage. NP officers are organised into brigades, covering geographical areas.

Rank insignia for the IPF is identical to that of the Iraqi Army with the only change being that shoulder boards are the same color as the shirt of the officer. This too has an exception in that IPS office shoulder boards are dark blue same as the pants, hat and brassard.


Ranks within the service, ordered highest to lowest, with symbol on epaulette:[4]

Dangers faced by Iraqi police

Iraqi Police officers patrol through downtown Najaf.

The Iraqi Police has faced numerous problems since it was reformed by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the fall of Baghdad, It has become the target of fighters from both inside and outside Iraq with many thousands of officers killed by a combination of gunfire and bombings by Iraqi insurgents, foreign terrorists and in some cases, friendly fire by Coalition troops.[5] an estimated 4,250 serving Iraqi police officers had been killed between January 2005 and the 4 March 2006. Due to the rather high[6] unemployment levels in Iraq, there has been a willing number of young Iraqi men willing to join up to do the task. A large number have died even before pulling on a uniform after being killed by both suicide bombers and suicide car bombs whilst queueing at police recruitment stations.[7]

The IP has also seen the infiltration[8] of its ranks by insurgents of various guises and motives. With access to privileged information, training and weapons they have used the force to their tactical advantage. Many police stations have been attacked,[9] blown up,[10] had weapons stolen from them and at times occupied by those who oppose the Iraqi government. As a result, many police officers have abandoned their posts,[11] others took off their uniforms and turned their weapons on the US forces who trained them. For other officers, their job did not stop once they left work. There have been dozens of reports of attacks on policemen and women whilst they were returning home from duty.[12]

As of October 7, 2006, 12,000 Iraqi Police have deserted, with 4000 killed.[13]

The Iraqi police and Islamic law

The Baathist regime operated under a single-party dictatorship that had a fairly secular legal system. While the Personal Status Law of 1958 gave religious courts some authority over members of their own religion, many Islamic based restrictions on personal freedom did not exist in Baathist Iraq as they do in neighboring nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Alcohol and pork products were both legal, nightclubs did not have to be segregated based on gender, women were allowed to have public careers, and up until 2001 the only sexual conduct between consenting adults that was officially illegal was adultery, and incest. In 2001, by means of RCC Resolution 234 of 2001, the Baathist regime amended the criminal code to make non consensual sodomy, rape and prostitution capital crimes.

The fall of the Baathist regime and the legalisation of the various Iraqi opposition political parties, the liberalization of laws concerning freedom of religion and speech, along with ongoing violence and chaos has given an opportunity for Islamic fundamentalist insurgents and political parties to harass, even murder Iraqi businesses and citizens that violate Islamic laws.

Currently, the Law of Iraq is the Criminal Code of 1969 which contains several vague prohibitions against public immorality or indecency, but it would appear that the definition and enforcement of Islamic morality is being left up to various private citizens and paramilitary groups. Thus various news reports seem to suggest that both the Iraqi police and the foreign troops have been allowing Islamic fundamentalists to take the law into their own hands, and punish anyone they suspect of being guilty of immorality.

In Basra for instance it was reported that police guarding a local park made no attempt to stop an armed group from severely beating two women and then shooting dead a male Iraqi friend of theirs.[14] It has been suggested that the motivation for the attack was the mixing of men and women in a public place. In some instances it has been said that the armed groups involved in these and other political killings were actually police officers.

Iraqi police and the Iraqi government

The Iraqi Government has also been accused of using (or tolerating) the police and other groups to carry out sectarian killings and kidnappings of Sunni Iraqis. In December 2005 the Iraqi Interior Ministry found itself the centre of attention when US troops found 625 inmates being held in "very overcrowded" conditions in a Baghdad interior ministry building. Twelve of the prisoners were reportedly showing signs of serious torture and many other signs of malnourishment.[15] It was reported that Police Commando's had been responsible for some of the prisoners.[citation needed]

This story only served to lend weight to the accusations and sow more distrust of the police force. A report into the findings at the building was promised by Iraqi President Ibrahim Jaafari at the end of December 2005 but as of the 4 May 2006 no report has been issued. It's also the case that groups infiltrating the Iraqi police have stolen uniforms and carried out kidnappings and killings whilst dressed as police. When you combine these actions with those of members of the police force carrying out killings outside their own code of conduct it is often very difficult to identify exactly who is responsible.

The US State Department in 2006 released a human rights report that accused Iraq's police force of widespread atrocities.[16][17]

The Iraqi government dismantled in October 2006 a complete police brigade because they had connections with sectarian death squadrons. Instead of fighting against the death squads, the police helped them. The dismantled brigade has been transferred to a US base where they will be re-educated for their police job. Other police brigades will be subject of internal investigations for any liaison with death squads or other groups.

On November 14, 2006, some workers of the Ministry of Higher Education were kidnapped by gunmen who are suspected to be linked to Shi'ite militias and the Iraqi police. During that morning, kidnappers who wore recently-issued Iraqi police uniforms raided a Ministry of Higher Education building and seized over 100 men during broad daylight. There were reports that the vehicles which carried the hostages passed through Iraqi police checkpoints without being stopped. The Ministry of Interior spokesperson said that there are reports that the remaining hostages were to have been transported to Sadr City, a Shi'ite militia stronghold in eastern Iraq. At least several senior Iraqi police officers were being investigated. This incident calls into question the links between Shi'ite militias and the Iraqi police, where the true power of Iraqi security forces lie, and tensions between the Sunni-controlled Ministry of Higher Education and the Shi'ite-controlled Ministry of Interior.

Number of serving Iraqi police officers

The actual number of police is notoriously hard to gauge, since local police chiefs may pad their numbers to get more funding for their stations, and people may drift in and out of service. The total payroll for the Ministry of Interior exceeds 300,000, but many of these are not on duty at any given time.

As of mid-2007, the National Police Forces' employed approximately 25,000 national police.[18] This number is slightly misleading, however, because at least one-third and as many as one-half of the NPs are on leave at any one time.

Number of Iraqi Police Deaths

As of December 24, 2005, it has been announced by the Iraqi government's Interior Minister Jawad Al-Bolani, that 12,000 police officers in Iraq have died in the line of duty since the US-led invasion in 2003.[5][19]

Police Transition Teams(PTT) / National Police Transition Teams(NPTT)

Large scaled operation conducted by coalition forces to assist in the policing and training of Iraqi Police(IP) and Iraqi National Police. PTTs are traditionally US Army Military Police squads dedicated to Iraqi Police stations in Iraq. The teams conduct joint patrols with IP's, share station defense, gather numbers of station information, and counter-terrorism intelligence. The US MP squads usually develop trusting relations with the IP's and conduct community policing through out Iraq together. The joint patrols and force of the PTT teams have helped curb violence, and increase respect and the professional image of Iraq's police force. Lately the duties have been filled by USAF Security Forces members. Along with most of the Police Transition Teams, an Iraqi Police Liaison Officer(IPLO) is present. The IPLO's are highly experienced US peace officers to assist in post-academy training of the IP's. The mission has played a vital role in the ability of Iraq to police and protect its own, increasing the length of the projected measures to secure Iraq.

National Police Transition Teams (NPTT) are 11-man military transition teams embedded in Iraqi National Police units at the battalion, brigade, division, and corps headquarters levels. Currently, these teams are resourced by the US Army and the US Marine Corps. Like the PTTs, each team is assisted by an IPLO and anywhere from 1-6 local interpreters.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "National Police Commander". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Iraq Coalition Casulty Count". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Unemployment High, Future Uncertain in Iraq". ABC News. January 24, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  7. ^ "Bomber hits Iraq army recruits". BBC News. July 20, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  8. ^ "IRAQ: INSURGENTS HAVE INFILTRATED POLICE, SAYS SECURITY ADVISER". Archived from the original on 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  9. ^ "Car bomb hits Iraq police station". BBC News. December 14, 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  10. ^ "Mosque Bombed in Baghdad Attacks". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  11. ^ Rory McCarthy (December 3, 2004). "Man on a mission". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  12. ^ "(dead link)". Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  13. ^ "More than 12,000 Iraqi police casualties in 2 years". CNN. October 7, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  14. ^ Catherine Philp (March 23, 2005). "Death at 'immoral' picnic in the park". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  15. ^ "New 'torture jail' found in Iraq". BBC News. December 12, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  16. ^ Brian Knowlton (March 9, 2006). "Iraqi Police Are Tied to Abuses and Deaths, U.S. Review Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  17. ^ "Iraq: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005". U.S. Department of State. March 8, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  18. ^ Jim Randle (October 14, 2007). "Study Finds Iraqi National Police Ineffective in Combating Terrorism". VOA News. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  19. ^ "Iraqi police deaths 'hit 12,000'". BBC News. December 24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 

External links

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