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Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq March 2010

The unclassified version of the March 2010 quarterly report to CongressMeasuring Stability and Security in Iraq” was placed on-line on 1 May.  This article highlights and summarizes key items concerning the Iraqi Security Forces.  The data cutoff date for this report, unless otherwise stated, is 28 February 2010.  Italics are quotes from the report.  [ ] marks indicate added comments or amplification.  Boldface has been added to highlight key points.


Ministry of Defense          

  • The MoD [Ministry of Defense], with U.S. Government (USG) assistance, is currently on track to achieve its MEC [minimum essential capabilities] objectives to provide oversight of the Iraqi armed forces prior to the U.S. forces redeployment in December 2011, though they will unlikely achieve the required capabilities for external defense, most notably in execution of air sovereignty. Current MoD challenges are in the areas of planning and budgeting, procurement, and information technology.
  • As of February 2010, the MoD remains under the MoF [Ministry of Finance] imposed hiring freeze of 253,000 personnel. According to December 31, 2009, data, which is the most current data USF-I has been able to collect, there were approximately 322,000 approved Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) positions in the MoD against which almost 274,000 personnel were allocated pay.
  • GoI budgetary constraints continue to affect the staffing of enabler combat support and combat service support units. The lack of soldiers entering the training base is forcing Iraqi leaders at all levels to staff enabler units from within their organizations by cross leveling from over-strength units, such as ISR formations and HQ elements. As IA and MoD leadership deal with continued manning and training challenges, the force generation of essential enablers could be adversely affected.  [Prior to the budget crisis, 2nd through 5th IA Divisions were authorized to be manned at 135 percent and the remaining IA combat units were authorized at 120 percent.  That changed with the budget crunch in the fall of 2008 with all units now authorized only 100 percent.  The excess has been the source of the new formed battalions/brigades.]
  • USF-I [US Forces-Iraq] initiated new discussions between the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government] and the GoI to integrate KRG Peshmerga forces into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]. Integrating the Peshmerga forces into the ISF will increase the security partnership between the MoD and KRG, and ultimately increase capability to secure Iraq from internal and external threats.  [I.E. USF-I is still pushing the commissioning of the Kurdish-manned IA 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions.]
  • MoD issued orders are still hand delivered to the General Depot Command in Taji to issue equipment to Iraqi units for Unit Set Fielding. The fear of corruption at the unit leadership level continues to force stringent original documentation and signature requirements thus further exacerbating the extended timeframe to issue supplies and equipment.


Iraqi Army

  • The IA continues to make steady progress.  There are currently 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and six Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) battalions.  [7 more IA battalions formed during this quarter.]
  • According to December 31, 2009, data, which is the most current data USF-I has been able to collect, the IA was manned at approximately 72% of its officers and 50% of its NCOs, with 83% of total MTOE numbers due to being over strength in the enlisted ranks.
  • On February 24, 2010, PM Maliki approved the recall of 6,513 (1,449 officers and 5,064 enlisted) former soldiers into the IA. After reporting to division reception centers located throughout Iraq during late February and March 2010, they will be transported to training centers for 60 days refresher training beginning April 1, 2010, before being integrated into IA units. The IA recently completed a recruiting drive to fill 6,000 positions targeting the northern provinces to fill shortages in the Ninewa Province. This recruiting drive resulted in 5,000 enlisted and 83 officer recruits. The new recruits will be brought onto active duty to begin training in June 2010 after the former IA soldiers mentioned above complete their refresher training.   [4 brigades worth of total personnel but, distributed as replacements.]
  • At the same time, efforts to integrate the Peshmerga into the IA are ongoing, one example being the consolidation of the 9th and 10th Peshmerga Brigades into the 1st Ministry of Peshmerga Brigade on January 31, 2010, as a necessary preliminary step to ISF integration.  [This is a brigade used in US/IA/Peshmerga partnering in Kirkuk.  It was planned to be part of 16th Division.  Most Peshmerga brigades are smaller than IA brigades.  This reorganization is to make them comparable sized forces.]
  • As of February 2010, there are 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and six Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) battalions. The IA continues to make steady progress toward MEC but will not achieve a foundation for defense against external threats before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements.  Specifically, equipping, training, and combined arms integration of the M1A1fleet, artillery units, and key mechanized enablers will not be complete.
  • There was an Iraqi delay in signing the sustainment cases; and although the cases have not been signed, they remain funded.   M1A1 fielding will not be complete by December 2011, nor will the fielding of artillery and other key enablers required to set a foundation for defense against external threats.  [To reduce expenditures during the budget crisis, support components were trimmed from the purchases.]
  • Chemical Defense units will begin their Unit Set Fielding in the first quarter of 2010. [The 1st company has formed since the cut-off date of this report.]
  • The Field Artillery School has continued to mature and shifted its location from Besmaya to Abu Ghraib. The school has completed training a new cadre of instructors and will soon be home to soldiers prepared to receive instruction on the 120mm mortar system, which is considered light artillery in the IA. Starting in October 2009, 120mm training through put was accelerated from two batteries per month to five batteries per month.

Iraqi Air Force

  • The IqAF is on the path to achieving MEC by the end of 2011 in all mission categories except airspace control (the key to air sovereignty) and fixed-wing airlift.
  • Following five years developing the foundation for an indigenous air traffic controller (ATC) workforce, in February 2010 the first Iraqis in over 20 years obtained their ATC radar controller licenses and certification. The ICAA now has nine licensed radar controllers, 13 radar controllers working traffic in an on-the-job training program supervised by the Washington Consultant Group, and 28 students in a classroom phase of training. However, the lack of investment, antiquated acquisition and procurement processes, and poor business practices continue to impede the ICAA.
  • In February 2010, the IqAF increased its MTOE from 5,217 to 10,287 authorized personnel. Due to this increase in authorizations and due to under-resourcing from the GoI and MoD, the IqAF is undermanned with 5,005 of the authorized 10,287 personnel positions filled for a 49% manning rate. The capacity of the IqAF schools, including pilot production, is sufficient, but lack of accessions will prevent the IqAF from meetings its goals without external assistance or contractor support. The trend of under-resourcing the IqAF may lead to a gap in desired organic capacity in December 2011.
  • In 2010, Tikrit will become the home of IqAF Officer and Pilot training. The IMAR [Iraqi Milatary Academy Ar Rustamiyah] is moving from Rustamiyah to Tikrit, and Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is moving from Kirkuk to Tikrit.  [Only the air force training is moving; IA officer training will remain at IMAR.]
  • The IqAF currently has 207 qualified pilots (fixed and rotary-wing) with another 99 in the training pipeline, including 20 out of country pilots. The out of country pilots are located in the U.S., UK, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Serbia. There is one student enrolled in the U.S. Aviation Leadership Program with an expected June 2010 graduation date. A total of 39 IqAF pilots graduated in 2009, and 17 more graduated on February 1, 2010. The first rotary-wing instructor pilot course is projected to begin in 2010. The first IqAF T-6 instructor pilot class begins in Tikrit in March 2010.
  • The lack of accessions in 2009 will likely influence the IqAF’s ability to establish an enduring air force by December 2011.  However, a strong push towards the end of 2009 indicated a commitment by the GoI and MoD to prioritize the accessions process. The GoI and MoD must continue to show a genuine commitment to access additional IqAF personnel, or it is unlikely that the IqAF will meet critical personnel strength targets in line with the service’s plan. Of particular interest is the shortage of personnel necessary to provide airspace control. The IqAF does not currently have any International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) licensed controllers against a MEC requirement of 64 located at four bases. The first two controllers are scheduled to be licensed by the end of April 2010. The ICAA has nine licensed radar controllers, 13 radar controllers working traffic in an on-the-job training supervised by the Washington Consultant Group, and 28 students in a classroom phase of training. Also, a severe shortage of mid-career officers continues to be of special interest. Over 50% of pilots and 30% of ground officers will reach retirement age before 2020, and those remaining lack flying experience. These numbers point to a projected shortage of senior IqAF leaders in ten years. In 2009, the MoD indicated an intention to transfer 1,600 personnel from the IA to the IqAF. Of the 1,600 former Iraqi military members evaluated, 1,140 enlisted and 177 officers were transferred to active duty in the IqAF. Finally, the IqAF must identify midcareer officers with potential to serve in the highest ranks and guide them through rigorous professional military development.
  • The IqAF is on the path to achieving MEC by the end of 2011 in all mission categories except airspace control and fixedwing airlift. Specifically, multi-role fighter, long-range radar, and C-130J delivery and fielding will not be complete prior to December 2011. The IqAF’s December 2011 goal is the development of a capability to support ISF COIN [counter-insergency] operations and have an initial air sovereignty capability in place. In 2009, an initial COIN support capability was developing. This capability will continue to develop in 2010, but with current programs, no kinetic response option for air sovereignty will exist by December 2011. Delayed execution of the Iraqi Air Force Service Plan and lack of funding for acquisitions, accessions, and contract logistics support, as well as a gap in sustainment for the current fleet all present obstacles to achieving the capability to support COIN operations and conduct minimal air sovereignty operations by December 2011.
  • To maximize the scarce resources of the IqAF, ITAM-AF is recommending that the Iraqi Air Staff adopt a Main Operating Base/Forward Operating Base (MOB/FOB) strategy of four MOBs (Tikrit, Taji, New Al Muthanna Air Base - NAMAB, and Ali Air Base) and six FOBs (Qaiyara – Q-West, Al Asad, Al Hurriya– Kirkuk, Balad, Al Kut, and Basrah). The MoD and the IqAF accepted this strategy for basing. However, in December 2009, by order of the Minister of Defense, the IqAF added Habbaniyah as a FOB to support the IGFC.  [Still talking about 11 bases, looks like they trimmed Irbil, H2, Suwayrah, and Shaibah from the list.]
  • ISR assets from Basrah will move to Ali Base to establish the first Iraqi presence there in the spring or summer of 2010.  [70th Reconnaissance Squadron]
  • The IqAF will also move into Qaiyara (Q-West) in the spring of 2010.  This will establish a small FOB that will serve as a refueling point for helicopter operations in northern Iraq.  [This is the first mention of a Q-West turnover.]


Iraqi Navy and Marines

  • The IqN is on track to achieve MEC by December 31, 2011, although there are risks to capability if shortfalls in manning, C4ISR, maintenance, and infrastructure are not adequately addressed in coming months. The IqN will assume responsibility for protection of the oil platforms in 2011. However, due to the importance of these oil terminals to the Iraqi economy, a higher level of capability is required. Therefore, USF-I anticipates a requirement for a regional presence that can respond to emergencies as the IqN matures from MEC to a fully capable force. The IqN intends to develop additional capabilities in due course to reduce dependence on the U.S.  [I.E. IqN does not have and has yet to order missile boats and aviation support squadron.  So 5th Fleet will continue to provide cover.] 
  • By USF-I end of mission, the IqN will have the minimum essential capability to defend the critical oil export infrastructure against current security threats. However, the importance of this infrastructure to the Iraqi economy mandates a higher level of capability.  [I.E. A COIN capability, not a capability against external threats.]
  • The IqN fleet is organized into two squadrons: the Patrol Ship/Patrol Boat Squadron; and the Small Boat Squadron. A third, the Auxiliary Squadron, will join the fleet in 2011 when Offshore Support Vessels enter service. The IqN has traditionally suffered from a lack of priority in MoD budgetary allocations. The IqN also suffers from logistics issues and communications difficulties between the HQ in Baghdad and the operational fleet.  [Expect 2-3 more patrol boat squadrons to form as they take delivery of the 15 additional ordered patrol boats.]
  • A December 7, 2009, maritime incident affected ongoing training this quarter.  A Chinese flagged merchant vessel damaged the main jetty, the Patrol Ship INS NASSER, and an AL FAW Patrol Boat, resulting in a period of reduced training due to platform unavailability for repairs.  [IqN only has 4 patrol ships and 5 patrol boats at this time.  This represents a 20 percent reduction in operational vessels.]
  • The Iraqi Marines have received approval to recruit new accessions in the second or third quarter of the calendar year. By the end of the calendar year, the Iraqi Marines should be up to full strength.  [IqM stood-up the initial brigade headquarters elements at the end of 2009.  Given the planned expansion of the port of Al Faw, the IqM will require a minimum of 2 brigades to provide security.]


Iraqi Special Operations Force

  • Under PM [Prime Minister] Directive 61, signed in April 2007, the INCTF [Iraqi National Counter Terrorism Force] is independent of both the MoD and MoI [Ministry of Interior]. The CoR [Council of Representatives], however, has not ratified the CT Law that will establish the CTS [Counter Terrorism Service] as a separate ministry. The proposed CT Law was initially submitted in September 2008. After being returned to the CoM [Council of Ministers], the bill had its first reading before the CoR in July 2009. If approved, the CT Law will formalize a ministerial-level position for the CTS Director and provide appropriations and funding. The CoR’s delay in addressing the CT Law makes the PM’s ability to fund CTS problematic and hinders maintenance and sustainment programs throughout the organization. [Parliament is still delaying the establishment of a 3rd security service.]
  • The INCTF is headed by the CTS and includes the Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC) and two ISOF brigades. The CTC is the operational HQ for combating terrorism in Iraq. The CTC exercises C2 of the two ISOF brigades that execute combat operations. The 1st ISOF Brigade is composed of five battalions: 1st Battalion (Commando); 2nd Battalion (Iraq Counter-Terrorism Force [ICTF]), which is designated the Iraqi CT Force; 3rd Battalion (Support); 4th Battalion (ISWCS), which operates the Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School; and 5th Battalion (RECCE). A Garrison Support Unit (GSU) provides logistical support to the ISOF brigades. On July 1, 2009, the CTS established the 2nd ISOF Brigade HQ to command and control the four Regional Commando Battalions (RCBs). The 6th RCB is located in Basrah. The 7th RCB is located in Mosul. The 8th RCB is located in Diyala. The 9th RCB is located in Al Asad. Each RCB houses a Commando Battalion, a platoon-sized reconnaissance unit, and a Regional Counter-Terrorism Center (RCC). Both the 1st and 2nd ISOF Brigades conduct tactical operations in conjunction with U.S. advisors. These units continue to improve their ability to conduct unilateral operations.  [No mention of the Karkh Area Command Strike Team Battalion in this report.  Details probably remain classified.]
  • Unfortunately, a GoI hiring freeze affecting all ISF prevents INCTF from adding new ISOF soldiers to fully man the ISOF brigades.  Approximately 1,000 graduates of the Assessment and Selection Course are required to man each of the two Brigades fully. These potential ISOF soldiers must be assessed, trained, and equipped before they can be integrated into the force. Growing the force will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.


Ministry of Interior

  • USF-I currently assesses the Federal Police (FP) and Oil Police (OP) to be operationally capable. The Iraqi Police Service (IPS), DBE, and Port of Entry Directorate (PoED) have basic capability and improved technical skills. However, all interior security forces will continue to have gaps in funding; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capability; specialization; and in logistical infrastructure. [MoI services are estimated to be 2 years behind the IA in development.]
  • The MoI eliminated the training backlog of Shurta (non-commissioned, entry-level policemen and women) requiring Basic Recruit Training (BRT) in December 2009. A total of 419,324 Shurta or commissioners have attended BRT, and 16,877 officers have attended officer producing courses at the Police Colleges, for a total of 436,201 police trained.
  • Many MoI subordinate organizations do not have trained medics. To address this issue in part, the MoI converted an unused clinic in Baghdad to a Medical Training Site. The first medic training program at this site began in December 2009. USF-I has partnered with the MoI Surgeon’s Office to significantly increase the number of Combat Life Savers (CLS) within the police ranks. USF-I is also working with the MoI to develop Iraqi CLS trainers to ensure the program is self-sustaining once U.S. forces leave Iraq. The first CLS trainer course was offered in August 2009. To date, this program has trained 20 MoI CLS trainers.  [Lack of medical personnel is a problem throughout Iraq.]


Iraqi Federal Police

  • The 2nd FP Division is currently the only division with an organic Logistics Battalion. The Logistics Battalions organic to the 1st, 3rd, and 4th FP Divisions have not been stood-up.  [Note that the cut-off date of this report is February 2010.  The 1st FP Division's Sustainment Battalion and the Zerevani Division(s) Sustainment Battalion(s) were initially reported in April.]
  • The Iraqi FP capabilities continue to improve with the fielding of remaining 3rd Division units in the northern region, and continued force generation efforts for the 4th Division HQs and units in the southern region. Additionally, the FP will assume three new security force missions (the Central Bank of Iraq, Embassy Protection Force, and the Antiquities and Ruins Security Force) once force generation resumes.  [Most of the additional units in the FP have been formed by nationalizing provincial paramilitary police units.]
  • The FP Commander received approval to transfer personnel from four IPS Emergency Response Units to the FP.  Initial transfers from the Emergency Response Units were assigned to Wasit and Diyala FP battalions. In November 2009, 287 members of the Wasit (Al Kut) unit graduated from FP BRT at Numaniyah Training Center. In January 2010, those 287 personnel joined with 164 Diyala transfers to attend unit training at Camp Dublin. The unit graduated from FP unit training on February 25, 2010.
  • The FP continue to have success in recruiting across most of Iraq’s ethnic and religious sects in each province. A notable exception is in the KRG controlled provinces, which are expected to bring better balance to the ethnic makeup of the force in the future. The FP maintain a large roster of people who want to join their ranks.  The Iraqi people view the FP as a federal force, detached from local influences and corruption.  This perception is due in part to the FP commander’s requirement for FP personnel to move from their hometown region and his record of dismissing or punishing FP personnel who engage in corruption.  [This is a big change in perception from 2007.]
  • The FP’s three-year plan will continue to improve FP capability at the provincial level. The three-year plan will provide a brigade sized FP force in each province, with a regionally based division HQ for C2 of FP brigades and division support battalions providing logistical support. Additionally, the FP HQ is requesting its own budget to be able to conduct operations and sustainment without having to request funding from the MoI. To date, the FP HQ has locations to base the brigade HQs in 14 provinces. Finally, the MoI’s continued support is required to fund new unit equipment and infrastructure improvements, replenish existing unit equipment, and improve unit-basing locations.


Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement/Port of Entry Directorate

  • The DBE is organized into five regions, with 14 brigades and 53 battalions (45 static and 8 mobile). The DBE also has one Coastal Border Guard Battalion located in Basrah under the command of Region 4. Eight DBE battalions are mobile Commando Battalions that are directly under the command of one of the regional commanders. The DBE is currently authorized 45,550 personnel and currently has 40,000 personnel assigned. The MoI envisions this force expanding to more than 60,000 personnel by 2012 in order to accomplish their border security duties effectively.  [20 total brigades by 2012 are probable.]


Iraqi Oil Police Directorate

  • The OP are responsible for protecting oil production infrastructure, including oil fields, pipelines, refineries, convoys, and retail stations, which are located throughout Iraq in both remote and urban areas. The OP organization includes three districts (North, Center, and South) and an HQ element in Baghdad collocated with the MoO. The organization has 47 battalions (43 static and 4 Mobile Emergency Battalions).  [OPD mirrors the structure of the Ministry of Oil’s regional oil companies.  Since a 4th company has been formed, a restructuring to 4 regions is probably in progress.]
  • Due to manpower shortages, the OP currently rely on 14 battalions of the IA to protect oil infrastructure.  Additionally, as new oilfields are developed, the OP will rely on contractors to provide security for these areas. This is already occurring in Wasit Province and may soon occur at the Agil Oilfields in Salah ad Din Province. In December 2009, the OP requested MoI authorization to hire 10,000 new OP personnel. To date, the OP have not received a response to this request.  [Many of the 47 OPD battalions are only company-strength at this point.]


Iraqi Facilities Protection Service

  • The FPS consists of a combination of 17,000 policemen and 77,000 contractors. These contractors are hired using one-year contracts that are reviewed and renewed annually.  Contractors receive salaries from the MoI. The majority of contractors meet MoI hiring criteria. One of the biggest concerns is the FPS’ inability to hire contractors as permanent hires due to MoI budget constraints and an existing hiring freeze.


Details that need to be kept in mind:  This is the unclassified portion of the report.  The data is over 2 months old.  The term “minimum effective capability’ (MEC) means just that - MINIMUM.  The Air Force is lagging well behind the rest of the force development, primarily due to budget issues.  The ISF was not planned to be capable of external security until 2020.   

DJ Elliott