Iraqi Army (IA)
New Iraqi Army (NIA)

Iraqi ArmyThe first battalion of the Iraqi army was founded on 06 January 1921 under the name of Musa Al Kadhum battalion ,then other military battalions, brigades and divisions and later nominating the three sorts: the ground forces, the air forces and naval forces were completed. On the time of King Faisl, the S. Ltc. Gen. Ja'far Alaskary was the first Iraqi minister of defense since Jan. 6th 1921 till Nov. 29th 1936. The military adventurers then tried to make the army an active means to achieve their aims to control the government and people through repeated coups d'etat.

Following Operation Iraqi Freedom and the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, the decision was made to establish a professional Iraqi Army [IA]. This New Iraqi Army, as it was initially known, would replace Saddam's army with a professional force for maintaining peace and stability. The New Iraqi Army's primary responsibilities would be for border protection, securing roads and installations, and clearing mines and unexploded bombs left over from the war. Only a small number of officers would be employed in the new army, as plans called for it to be much smaller than that of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's. The US administration in Iraq envisioned the new army to be purely for defense and wholly separate from the civil police force unlike during the Hussein regime. Units were to reflect Iraq's religious, regional, and ethnic mix, be non-political, under law-based civilian control, and a force for defense and security-not aggression and oppression.

Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 22, Creation of a New Iraqi Army, dated 7 August 2003, established a military force for the national self-defense of a future free Iraq. Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 23, Creation of a Code of Military Discipline for the New Iraqi Army, dated 7 August 2003, established a system of discipline to maintain order in the New Iraqi Army.

Initial assumptions that the Iraqi military and other security forces could be reformed were seriously flawed. When the security forces were largely disbanded, the Coalition had no plan to rebuild them. The Coalition decision to use a private company to build the New Iraqi Army also proved problematic. On June 25, 2003, the U.S. Army, acting on behalf of the CPA, awarded the Vinnell Corporation a $48.0 million “cost plus fixed fee” contract to train the first nine battalions, or 9,000 recruits, of a 44,000 person-strong “New Iraqi Army” (NIA). Separately, a $30.0 million task order was issued under the existing Logistics Civil Augmentation Program for logistical support to the NIA training program.

As early as 2003, the media was reporting problems with the capabilities of those being trained by Vinnell and its subcontractors, including Military Professional Resources, Incorporated (MPRI). As a result, the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF-7) contracted the Jordanian military to supplement the training effort. Major General Paul Eaton, overseeing the Coalition Military Assistance Transition Team (CMATT), questioned using contract trainers, saying: “soldiers need to train soldiers. You can’t ask a civilian to do a soldier’s job.” In April 2004, an NIA battalion refused to fight insurgents in Fallujah, and soon thereafter Major General David Petraeus took over the training mission.

With the advent of the insurgency in 2003–2004, the United States abandoned its initial security plans, which called for a relatively small IA oriented toward border-defense missions. Instead, U.S. and GOI officials embarked on a multi-year programto recruit, train, equip, and deploy a robust IA capable of conducting aggressive counterinsurgency operations inside Iraq. As of 15 February 2004, more than 3,500 personnel had been recruited. Nearly 2,000 were operational and over 1,700 were in training. By August 2005, the Iraqi Army, as it had become referred to, totaled 86 combat battalions, which were at that time conducting counterinsurgency operations, which included almost 75,000 trained and equipped soldiers organized into 9 infantry divisions and one mechanized division. An additional 12,000 troops provided support, training and special security functions.

As of 2006 the IA consisted of nine light infantry divisions and one mechanized division. Each light infantry division has between three to five light infantry brigades. Within each brigade there are two to five light infantry battalions. The 9th Mechanized Infantry Division was outfitted with T-72 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles.

Between August 2005 and March 2010, the Iraqi Army increased in size to 196 combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and 6 Iraqi special operations forces battalions. In that period the active Iraqi Army successfully absorbed units created for strategic infrastructure protection. The Iraqi Army had already absorbed the Iraqi National Guard by January 2005. During 2007, the Iraqi Army passed control of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces to the Counter-Terrorism Bureau. It retained administrative and logistical responsibilities for the units. As of March 2010 the IA continued to make steady progress toward a Minimum Essential Capability, but was not expected achieve a foundation for defense against external threats before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements.

As of mid-2010 there were 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations. Although the IA continued to make steady progress toward MEC, it could not achieve a foundation for defense against external threats before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements to complete development of four modern divisions (one mechanized and three infantry). Specifically, equipping, training, and combined arms integration of the M1A1 fleet, artillery units, and key mechanized enablers will not be complete.

As of June 30, 2011, the IA had a nominal strength of almost 200,000 soldiers — a force USF-I characterized as capable of maintaining domestic security with limited support from the U.S. military. Although the police had increased their size and capabilities — and had replaced IA units as the lead in some local areas, at that time the IA remained in the lead in 14 provinces, with operational control for security residing inseven regional operation commands.

The transfer of internal security to police would free up IA units to focus on the development of traditional combined-arms capabilities and external defense. Plans called for elements of four IA divisions to be withdrawn from domestic security operations in January 2012 for additional training by the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) in combined-arms operations. As an initial step in this process,USF-I is helping the IA integrate mortarmen and combat engineers into the infantry units. US military advisors planned to start training IA mechanized infantry units on more advanced combined-arms tactics in July, including the proper use of 1,100 new armored personnel carriers, 140 M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and an array of modern indirect-fire systems.

Join the mailing list