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Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

June 2008
Report to Congress
In accordance with the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2008
(Section 9010, Public Law 109-289)


Section 2-Iraqi Security Forces Training and Performance

2.4 Iraqi National Counter-Terrorism Forces (INCTF)

Transition of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) Brigade command and control from Coalition forces to the Iraqis at Counter- Terrorism Bureau (CTB) and Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC) is on track. The 1st ISOF Brigade—consisting of five combat battalions, one training battalion, one support battalion, and a reconnaissance company—has been formed and equipped. However, it is short company grade officers and seasoned NCOs to cross-load and outfit expansion battalions. The INCTF aggressively recruits its leaders from MoD officer commissioning schools, NCO courses and former-regime members. Formal command of the brigade will transition to the CTB and CTC in 2009.

The CTB and CTC achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in January 2008 and have entered Phase III transition, which allows for combined U.S.-Iraqi command and control with personnel conducting side-by-side ground operations. The current projected start of Phase IV transition—Iraqi command and control of ground operations with U.S. oversight—is scheduled to start in the summer of 2008. Currently, the MoD staffs the CTC at 85%, and the CTB at 66%, against authorizations. The ISOF Brigade fills 72% of its authorizations, up from 64% in the previous report. Based upon recently approved growth—including regional command battalions, regional counter-terrorism (CT) centers and the ISOF garrison support unit—ISOF authorization increases have exceeded training base production of new special operators.

The training of new INCTF special operators occurs at the ISOF Brigade Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School (ISWCS). This is the only organic training institution within the INCTF structure. INCTF training capacity for non-operator, support personnel and specialists relies on acquiring soldiers and training from MoD schools. INCTF training capacity is constrained by the rigorous vetting, assessment and selection process required for all ISOF personnel. Despite this constraint, ISWCS remains capable of producing the special operators required to fill the ISOF Brigade.

Four regional commando battalions are currently in generation as an expansion effort to increase ISOF presence and nationwide capability to conduct CT operations. These battalions will each consist of 440 commandos and be located in Basrah, Mosul, Diyala and Al Asad. The Basrah Commando Battalion achieved IOC in January 2008, with staffing at 80% of authorization. This unit conducted numerous successful direct action missions in support of the Prime Minister’s CT operations against militias in Basrah during March and April 2008. The Basrah base is scheduled for completion by January 2009. The Mosul Commando Battalion also achieved IOC, with 80% strength, in January 2008. Its base is 90% completed and will be complete by May 2008. The Mosul Commando Battalion should reach full operational capability (FOC) by June 2008. Construction of the Diyala Commando Battalion base is scheduled to begin in July 2008 and be completed by January 2009. The ISWCS is presently producing the personnel to staff the Diyala Command Battalion. The battalion should to occupy its base facilities as they are completed. The unit should be IOC by October 2008 and FOC by January 2009. The Al Asad Commando Battalion base complex began construction in April 2008. The unit should reach IOC by September 2008 and FOC by November 2008.

The Regional Counter-Terrorism Centers (RCC), which are similar to Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) organizations, are being established at all four regional commando bases as infrastructure construction is completed. The RCCs will work for the CTC to develop terrorist network mapping and fusion of intelligence support for their respective commando battalion battle space. Additionally, the RCCs will develop and implement intelligence exchange activities with assigned Coalition forces in the area of operation.

The INCTF submitted a budget of $380 million for CY 2008. It received $167 million in a direct funding allocation and direction to the MoD to pay the INCTF salaries of $166 million for CY 2008. The INCTF is currently prioritizing its 2008 requirements to develop an acquisition strategy. Since the majority of the requirements are equipment related, INCTF is considering FMS procurement in many cases. Recognizing the low quantities of equipment needed, the INCTF makes every effort to economize FMS transactions through modification of existing letters of agreement and contracts with other Iraqi ministries.

The future of Iraqi aviation support to counterterrorism rests primarily with the 15th Special Operations Squadron, flying the specially configured Mi-17 helicopter. An aggressive time line was set in 2007, but it was dependent on several critical events. The first event is an improved Contracted Logistic Support (CLS) contract. The IqAF supports the Mi-17s that it has for training and initial operations by a CLS that is insufficient for the current level of operations. The IqAF is purchasing an improved CSL contract but will not implement it soon enough to meet the current CT aggressive timeline. The second issue is the current Intercommunications System (ICS) in the IqAF Mi-17s. It has been determined that the ICS is safe to fly daytime base-to-base non-tactical training and operations but must be upgraded or replaced in order to conduct CT Night Vision Goggle (NVG) tactical training or operations. The CAFTT and the IqAF have aggressively pursued these two problems, and they will have the improved CLS and upgraded ICS Mi-17s available for CT NVG tactical training in November 2008. If NVG CT aviation training begins in early 2009, there is a reasonable assurance Mi-17 aviation support to CT will meet January 1, 2010 FOC requirements.

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