|Iraqi Security Forces
Iraq Ministry of Defence emblem
|Service branches||Iraqi Army, Iraqi Air Force, Iraqi Navy|
|Prime Minister of Iraq||Nouri Al-Maliki|
|Minister of Defence||Abdul-Qadar Mohammad Jassim al-Mifarji|
|Chief of Staff, Iraqi Joint Forces||General Babaker Shawkat B. Zebari|
|7,086,200 males, age 16-49,
6,808,954 (2008 est.) females, age 16-49
|6,203,425 males, age 16-49,
6,065,009 (2009 est.) females, age 16-49
304,923 (2009 est.) females
|Percent of GDP||8.6%(2006)|
|Foreign suppliers|| Russia
|Ranks||Iraqi Army Ranks Insignia|
The armed forces of Iraq have a long but not particularly successful history. They were initially formed in the early 1920s. They first saw combat in the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941. They fought against Israel in 1948, in the 1967 Six Day War, and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Two wars with the Kurds were fought in 1961-70 and 1974-75. A much larger conflict was the Iran-Iraq War, initiated by the Iraqis in 1980, which continued until 1988. Thereafter Iraq began to confront the United States, first in the Iraq-Kuwait War which led to the Persian Gulf War of 1991, then in confrontations over the Iraqi no-fly zones during the 1990s, and finally the Iraq War of 2003. The Iraqi armed forces have had mixed success at the strategic level but consistently poor tactical performance during most of their history.
The armed forces are administered by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), and the Iraqi Police is administered by the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which toppled the Saddam Hussein regime, the Iraqi Armed Forces have been rebuilt with substantial assistance from the United States armed forces. Since the implementation of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement on January 1, 2009, the Iraqi Armed Forces and the forces of the Ministry of Interior (Iraq) are responsible for providing security and upholding law and order throughout Iraq.
The armed forces of Iraq as a modern country began to be formed by the British after they assumed mandated control over Iraq after 1917. During the March 1921 Cairo conference it was agreed that an Iraqi Army would be created along British lines, with training and equipment provided by the UK. British forces later defeated the Iraqis in the short Anglo-Iraqi War of May 1941, during the Second World War. The Iraqi Air Force was first founded in 1931, when Iraq was under British rule, with a handful of pilots and continued to operate British aircraft until the 14 July Revolution in 1958, where the new Iraqi government began increased diplomatic relationships with the Soviet Union. The air force used both Soviet and British aircraft throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Iraqi forces fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, a first war against the Kurds from 1961–70, and then the Six Day War of 1967.
Iraqi participation in the Six Day War was limited, principally owing to the slow reaction of the Iraqi 3rd Armoured Division, which had been stationed in eastern Jordan. The 3rd Armoured Division did not organise itself and reach the front line before the Jordanians ceased operations. Therefore Iraqi participation was limited to a Tu-16 bomber raid on Israel, which did not locate its targets, and a return Israeli air raid on H-3 airbase. The Israelis reportedly destroyed 21 Iraqi aircraft for the loss of three of their own.
After the first Kurdish war ended with a Peshmerga victory, the Iraqi military began to implement a number of changes. First, they concluded that Soviet equipment and methods did not suit their needs. The Soviet Union was trying to influence Iraqi policy by holding up arms deliveries, and the Iraqis had concluded that Soviet weaponry was inferior to Western equipment. Thus despite the significant amount of Soviet equipment that Iraq continued to receive (shown by the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, Iraq 1973–1990), Iraq actively attempted to buy Western military equipment. Buys from France and the UK included 64 Mirage F1 fighter-attack aircraft in 1976, 200 AMX-30 tanks in 1977, and 200 Cascavel APCs from the UK in 1978. That same year Iraq ordered ten frigates and corvettes from Italy. While Iraqi generals supported a complete changeover to Western equipment, Western countries were reluctant to sell large amounts of weaponry, Western weapons were more expensive that Soviet ones and took longer to train personnel on, and there was a reluctance to make a complete equipment reversal. However, more Western weapons were bought and reliance on Soviet doctrine reduced. In most cases, the Iraqis went back to British doctrine, while in others, they melded British and Soviet doctrine. Iraq's logistics capability was also improved, with 2,000 heavy equipment transporters bought.
Iraqi participation in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 took the part of a 60,000 strong Iraqi Army expeditionary force which operated on the Syrian front. However the force did not perform very well. The air force did not do well either, losing 26 of the 101 fighter aircraft sent to Syria without shooting down any Israeli aircraft.
The Kurds started the second Kurdish war of 1974-75. The war ended in Kurdish defeat after the Iranian-Iraqi Algiers agreement cut off Iranian support to the Kurds. From 1973 to 1980, Saddam largely relieved the armed forces of internal security functions by creating new paramilitary forces, such as the Iraqi Popular Army. He also guaranteed the military's loyalty to the regime by promoting loyal officers and purging questionable ones. However this had the effect of filling the senior officer ranks with incompetents. (Pollack 2002, 182-183)
Saddam Hussein's government then launched the Iran-Iraq War on 22 September 1980 with an invasion of Khuzestan province. After eight years of fighting, a series of Iraqi offensives in 1988 forced Iran to accept a ceasefire, though the perception that the United States had entered the war on the Iraqi side also induced the Iranians to agree. (Pollack 2002, 182-3, 228-229) The Iran–Iraq War ended in 1988 with Iraq fielding the world's 4th largest military, with more than 70 army divisions, over 800 aircraft in the Iraqi Air Force, and a small navy, thanks to funding from the surrounding Persian Gulf states and billions in loans and funding given or secured by the US State Department to support Iraq's war with Iran.
However Saddam Hussein had poured massive resources into regime protection agencies that later took on a battlefield role: the Republican Guard (Iraq). Losses during the Gulf War from the United States-led coalition resulted in the reduction of Iraq's ground forces to 23 divisions and the air force to less than 300 aircraft. The Iraqi Popular Army was also disbanded. Military and economic sanctions prevented Iraq from rebuilding its military power. What rebuilding was done was concentrated on the Republican Guard and the new Special Republican Guard (Iraq), created after the war ended. Iraq maintained a standing military of about 375,000 troops. Among the components of the military was the Directorate of General Military Intelligence.
During the 1990s the Iraqi Armed Forces were involved in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in Iraq, which led to refugees fleeing north in 1991. The U.S. launched Operation Provide Comfort with allied aid to provide assistance to these refugees. This involved some confrontations with the Iraqi armed forces. The Iraqi no-fly zones were established partially due to these operations. Operation Southern Watch dominated Iraqi airspace in the southern part of Iraq while Operation Northern Watch did the same in the north. As a result of Iraqi actions, Cruise missile strikes on Iraq were launched in June 1993. Kuwait was then threatened with Republican Guard divisions in October 1994, which resulted in a major U.S. protective deployment designated Operation Vigilant Warrior. Operation Vigilant Sentinel was a later 2005-07 operation of the same nature. More Cruise missile strikes on Iraq were launched in 1996. Iraq was bombed again in Operation Desert Fox in 1998. As U.S. preparations for an attack on Iraq gathered pace in 2002, Operation Southern Focus was launched, further damaging Iraqi air defences in the southern part of the country.
In the 1980s and 1990s Iraq built and used an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, some of which have been alleged to come from the United States. These weapons were ordered destroyed by United Nations order. After a protracted and problematic weapons inspection process, the majority of weapons were considered to be destroyed and facilities sealed under UN weapons inspections. A new round of weapons inspections was performed in early 2003 by United Nations weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix, which searched Iraqi sites again, but found no new weapons. In March 2003 a US-led coalition invaded and occupied Iraq. After a year-long investigation by an American weapons inspections team, headed by David Kay, found no large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (though a network of UN-inspected and sealed laboratories did exist).
The Iraqi military was disbanded and the Iraqi Military of Defense was dissolved shortly after the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003 by Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 of May 23, 2003. On June 25, 2003 the Vinnell Corporation was awarded a contract to train the first nine battalions, or 9,000 recruits, of a 44,000 person-strong "New Iraqi Army." The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team under Major General Paul Eaton was responsible for managing the process. In April 2004 an Iraqi battalion refused to fight insurgents in Fallujah. Soon afterwards, the military assistance structure was reorganised. Major General David Petraeus took over the training mission as he became the commander of the new Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq. A new force generation plan authorized an end-strength of ten Iraqi army divisions.
During 2006 the Coalition's campaign plan for Iraq called for a small Coalition footprint and a rapid handover of security responsibilities to newly generated Iraqi security forces. It turned out, however, that the ISF were not ready and that the time plan was too optimistic. Even though Iraqi forces had been trained and equipped, they hadn't developed the capabilities needed to plan, conduct and sustain effective counter-insurgency operations. There were also challenges at the ministerial level, within the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. The ministries could not sustain its forces in terms of logistics, intelligence, communications and procurement. A by-product of the surge was that it provided the ISF time for training and leadership development, as well as more Coalition partnering units. One of the lessons learned is that the Coalition should not draw down too quickly, according to U.S. Brigadier General Dana Pittard
The Iraqi Army launched its first solely planned and executed high-profile division-level operation March 25, 2008 in the Battle of Basra (2008). The IA received Coalition support only in air support, logistics and via embedded advisors. A British infantry brigade stationed at Basra International Airport was ready in a tactical overwatch role but did not intervene.
The Iraqi Army, in particular, is one of the most trusted national institutions of Iraq. While generally capable in a internal security role, Iraqi deficiencies have been identified in enabling functions, such as, e.g., logistics and military intelligence. In high-end conventional operations, Iraqi capabilities are currently limited by lack of artillery and air power. There are also concerns regarding corruption and sectarian agendas within the force.
Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Defense (MOD), as well as the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. MOD forces include the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy. The MOD also runs a Joint Staff College, training army, navy, and air force officers, with support from the NATO Training Mission - Iraq. The college was established at Ar Rustamiyah on September 27, 2005. The center runs Junior Staff and Senior Staff Officer Courses designed for first lieutenants to majors.
The Peshmerga, since September 2009 the 'Armed Forces of the Kurdistan Region,' are a separate armed force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The force is quite sizable. USF-I public affairs officers indicated that the KDP and PUK both have around 100,000 peshmenga (totalling 200,000) as of January 2010. The two divisions are included in this figure; the regional government and the central government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad's authority and to what extent.
The Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that is currently being developed by the government of Iraq in cooperation with Coalition forces. The force generation plan as of November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4 brigades.
The Iraqi army is described as the most important element of the counter-insurgency fight. The tactic is to provide security and other services on a local level by using infantrymen on dismounted patrols. As insurgents lose the passive or active support from the local population, they will easily be defeated, it is believed.
Light infantry brigades are equipped with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armor and light armored vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with T-54/55 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles. The Hungarian Armed Forces have donated 77 Soviet-made T-72 tanks from their own arsenal. The tanks have been refurbished by Hungarian specialists and were delivered in fully battle-ready condition in 2004. Training personnel was also provided to the newly forming Iraqi army. Iraq will also be receiving 70 additional T-72 tanks from Slovakian army reserves. Iraq will be receiving 280 M1A1M tanks in 2010 and 2011.
The Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has 3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018.
The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers, including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion. The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010. The Iraqi navy possesses 16 patrol boats, 35 assault boats, and 1 offshore picket vessel.
Poor levels of internal security have stifled attempts to build any national banking or credit systems. In lieu of such organizations, Iraqi units operate at any given time with an estimated 10-20% absenteeism rate due to soldiers temporarily leaving their units to deliver their pay back to their families. This can be especially grueling if the unit is on deployment outside of their home province as the absenteeism time is naturally increased.
In addition, all military hospitals under the Saddam regime were looted and abandoned during the 2003 invasion of Iraq; thus as of April 2007 the Army had no military hospitals. There is only one military prosthetics facility in the country and virtually no mental health or burn treatment services. Wounded Iraqi soldiers are expected to receive treatment either at civilian hospitals or if possible, at Coalition medical facilities. Corruption practices spurred partly by over-taxation at these civilian hospitals significantly drive up costs to the soldier. Due to overwhelming red tape within the Iraqi military compensation system, it is commonplace for the soldier to end up bearing the financial brunt of medical expenses.
The Ministry of Interior (Iraq) supervises the Iraqi Police, the Federal Police (which appears to be also called, depending on translation, the National Police), the Department of Border Enforcement, and the Facilities Protection Service.
Other ministries also have Facility Protection Service personnel who act as guards at government buildings and as personal security details to protect ministry officials.
The primary objective of the Iraqi Police is to safeguard the public and provide internal security at the local level. The Iraqi police is presently mainly focused on counter-insurgency operations, but over time the Iraqi police will improve criminal investigation capabilities including forensic investigative capabilities.
During the Saddam regime, the Iraqi police was used as an instrument to terrorize, intimidate and incite fear into the populace, using torture, threat and murder. Today, the new Iraqi police force is tasked with protecting people from such acts. The police course curriculum includes democratic policing, human rights, first aid, police ethics, leadership and communications. Currently there are over 340,000 Iraqi police.
The Iraqi police are equipped with AK-47s, Glock pistols, body armor, pick-up trucks and SUVs.
The Iraqi Police Service (IPS) is responsible for the day to day patrolling of cities around most crimes. The IPS is recruited locally and generally reflective of the demographic makeup of its neighborhoods.
Under the Geneva Convention, the U.S.-British coalition was obliged to provide a government for the Iraqi people after the 2003 invasion of Iraq which toppled the Saddam Hussein regime. After the dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority on June 28, 2004, the Coalition stayed in country at the request of the Iraqi government and under a UN Mandate to help the fledgling government develop its security forces and fight an insurgency. One mission objective for the MNF-I is an "Iraq that has a security force that can maintain domestic order and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists". To do this, the U.S. aimed to train and equip Iraq's security forces and gradually transition security responsibilities to them. Developing host-nation security forces is a cornerstone of the United States COIN doctrine.
After a review of the Iraq War military strategy in the end of 2004, then commanding general of the MNF-I, General George W. Casey, Jr. directed the Coalition forces to shift their focus from fighting insurgents to training Iraqis.
After national elections in December 2005, however, the insurgency shifted focus from a resistance against the occupation towards sectarian conflict. Accelerated by the Golden mosque bombing in February 2006, the levels of sectarian violence rose dramatically and the security situation deteriorated. In Baghdad a cycle of sectarian violence accelerated in which Al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni insurgents carried out spectacular suicide-bombings in Shia districts and Shia militias retaliated with extrajudicial killings in Sunni districts. It became evident that the Iraqi Armed Forces and the various MOI forces were incapable of putting a lid on the sectarian violence and protecting the population, and the MNF-I had to adjust plans for security transition. The commander of the Iraqi Assistance Command, Dana Pittard said June 2007 that the lesson learned is that Coalition forces should not draw down too quickly and that the transitioning of security responsibilities will take time. "I think it will take a couple of years before the Iraqi security forces are going to be able to fully take control of the security situation in Iraq", Pittard said.
In a 2005 U.S. DoD 9010 report to U.S. Congress, the Pentagon reported that its plan for security transition was broken down into four broad phases:
The first phase was completed in May 2006. The second phase can be considered complete since all of the original ten IA divisions have transferred to an Iraqi chain of command and are responsible for most of Iraq's battlespace and since Iraqi Army Lead-statistics are no longer included in the U.S. DoD's quarterly reports to Congress. Al Muthanna Governorate was the first province to enter the third phase July 2006. Twelve further governorates were transferred to Provincial Iraqi Control from September 2006 to October 2008. As of June 2009, PIC is no longer mentioned in the DoD 9010 report. Broadly speaking, the PIC process has been consumed by the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.
From 2003 onwards, the United States armed forces have taken the major role in assuring Iraq's exterior defence. The U.S. command responsible was initially Combined Joint Task Force 7, then Multi-National Force - Iraq, and is now United States Forces - Iraq. USF-I was established on January 1, 2010.
USF-I will implement the withdrawal of U.S. forces and materiel by December 31, 2011. However, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has mentioned the possibility that Iraq will request help with protecting its air space and further advise Iraqi forces beyond 2011. Such an agreement, however, would require new bilateral negotiations between the governments of Iraq and the United States.
The U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, different from the Status of Forces Agreement, stipulates a long-term relationship, and has no explicit expiration date. The agreement covers, e.g., the areas of culture, health, rule of law, economy, information technology, but also defense and security cooperation. The agreement stipulates a ``strong Iraq capable of self-defense´´, but also explicity states that ``The United States shall not seek or request permanent bases in Iraq´´.
The Iraqi Air Force, in particular, cannot yet defend the territorial sovereignty of its air space. Moreover, the Iraqi Army is trained and equipped primarily for an internal defense role, and its conventional capabilities are limited by lack of armor and artillery. A presence of U.S. forces, even though small, would serve as a deterrent against external aggression.
|Armed Iraqi Groups in the Iraq War and the Civil war in Iraq|
|Insurgents||Now-defunct Baathist rebels and insurgents||Military of Iraq and Police||Militias and others|