Coastal Defense Force
The Iraqi Navy [IqN] goal is to be capable of providing maritime security of territorial waters and to be able to defend key infrastructure, including the Khawar Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) oil platforms, the Umm Qasr port, and naval base. With the acquisition of new vessels, a comprehensive infrastructure build program for the Umm Qasr Naval Base, and an increase in training capacity brought about by an increase in the number of personnel supporting the training mission, the IqN is on track to achieve its short and medium-term transition milestones. By USF-I’s end of mission in December 2011, the IqN had the ability 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.
By the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iraqi Navy functionally did not exist. Including Al Faw peninsula, bound on one side by the Euphrates River and on the other by Shatt al-Arab waterway, the Iraqi Navy deployment area has two major cities, al Basra to the north and the port Umm Qasr, which also had been a significant naval installation under Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. In the northern Arabian Gulf, just off al Faw, are Iraq's two principal marine oil terminals: Khor al Amaya and al Basrah Oil Terminal (formerly called Mina Al-Bakr), through which flows more than 90 percent the nation's petroleum wealth.
In addition to protecting the coastline from smugglers and anti-Iraqi forces entering the country through the roughly 50-mile coastline, the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force also patrolled the 12-mile international water boundary. The force also served to protect the country's various oil platforms located the Persian Gulf within that zone.
The Iraqi Coastal Defense Force also included a land-based infantry unit to support the force's security mission in the area. The sea and land based units work closely with the Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service patrolling the country's southern waterways and rivers on a similar mission.
Developing an Iraqi Navy capable of defending their own maritime interests was important. The Coastal Defense Force was to be comprised of a patrol boat squadron of five 30-meter boats and a naval infantry regiment. As of January 2004 the naval infantry was still training with the Iraqi army for basic skills. This Coastal Defense Force then moved down to the Umm Qasr/Basra area for boat training and where they learned interdiction and boarding operations in order to protect the some 80 kilometers of Iraqi coastline.
ICDF training officially began in January 2004 with 214 volunteers attending a three-month boot camp. After completing boot camp and a brief period of leave, the ICDF sailors were transported to the newly constructed base in Umm Qasr, where they began technical training April 21. The patrol craft crews were trained to perform anti-smuggling operations, harbor and coastline defense, search and rescue operations, and various other operations inside the 12-mile international water boundary.
Iraqi Coastal Defense Force servicemembers carried out two training missions 19 August 2004, as the Iraqi government prepared for commencement of naval operations Oct. 1. The force consisted of 412 trained personnel and included five 27-meter long Chinese-made patrol gunboats and various other support craft. The two missions, piloting and sea rescue, were part of the ongoing effort by the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq to train the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force. The mission was to protect the coastline from the terrorists and enemies. In training since Jan. 2004, the force was now concentrating on more advanced seamanship, towing, gunnery, sea rescue, chart reading, navigation, anti-smuggling, operations, and rigid inflatable boat integration and small boat drill instruction. The Iraqi Coastal Defense Force also learned how to put all of this in the context of a democratically based maritime sea force. The Iraqi Coastal Defense Force assumed control of the Umm Qasr Naval Base on 12 June 2004 and was operating at 100 percent of its originally programmed manning goal.
According to the Department of State Iraq Weekly Status Report, dated 12 January 2005, the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force was renamed the Iraqi Navy. As of 2005, the Iraqi Navy was executing operational missions that included border and waterway protection from smuggling and infiltration, and site protection of port and oil assets in the Persian Gulf. The force was patrolling out to the 12-mile international water boundary in the Persian Gulf using 27-meter patrol boats, rigid-hull inflatable boats, and other support vessels. The Iraqi Navy had approximately 500 trained sailors on duty.
As of 2005, the Iraqi Navy Training Department conducted all of its own training, assisted by the M&R AST. All members of the Iraqi Navy received their initial training in Kirkush. Following basic training, they were trained on mission-focused technical skill sets: ship handling, marlinspike seamanship, navigation, engineering, weapons handling, small boat operations, shipboard damage control, etc.
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