Find a Security Clearance Job!


ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part III

Toward the Objective: Building a New Iraq

Chapter 11
Training the Iraqi Security Forces


Rebuilding Iraqi Ministries of Government

Arguably, the most important and most complicated task undertaken by the CPA was the reorganization of the civilian government departments that would administer the security forces. The leaders in the CPA felt that a fully democratic Iraq required civilian control of the military and police forces. In the fall of 2003 Walter Slocombe elaborated on the importance of this task, emphasizing the paramount concept of civilian control of the military establishment:

In addition to creating the new Iraqi army, we will also be working with the governing council . . . on creating a law-based system for civilian oversight and control, creating the institutions and mechanisms to run the national security policies of what will be a major state in the Middle East. And that is in itself an important part of the creation of a democratic, law-based, constitutional system, which is of course our overall strategy.18

For this reason, the CPA began to focus on creating strong ministries that could serve as the foundation for civilian oversight. As Lieutenant General Petraeus would later explain, the eventual success of the ISF depended on strong leadership at the ministerial level, because without policies and institutional support there was potential for the security forces themselves to be weak and ineffective. Petraeus emphasized that systems were as critical as soldiers in this type of project:

Another key factor is the ministries in the government; you’ve got to have advisors for them in very substantial numbers because if you can’t get the top right, over time, what you build at the bottom will not be effectively used. In fact, it could be undermined. You’ve got to train the folks who are developing the policies, ensuring the troops are paid, performing their logistics functions, getting the fuel for them, and all the rest of that. If you can’t develop those [systems], they can very much erode and undermine the development of the units.19

The CPA provided advisors to the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) to help them create a transparent and efficient governmental structure—a difficult task given the decades of corrupt rule under Saddam. Every ministry within the national government, as well as those national entities that reached down to the regional and local level, required assistance for the process to be successful. The Ministry of Defense led the armed forces, while the MOI led the police and paramilitary security forces. The Ministry of Justice directed the prisons and courts and ensured rule of law. When the CPA dissolved on 28 June 2004, responsibility for advising the ministries moved to the State Department and the Iraqi Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO).*

To meet its security challenges, the CPA, in consultation with the IGC, created the Ministerial Committee for National Security (MCNS), a rough parallel to the US National Security Council. The MCNS included the ministers of Defense, Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs, and Finance along with the senior military advisor to the government of Iraq and the director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. Ambassador Bremer held the chair of this important committee, and between July 2003 and June 2004, the MCNS empowered the Iraqi ministers to convey their views to Bremer and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez as decisions were made regarding the formation of the security forces.20 The ministers slowly assumed the role of decisionmakers and began to interact and communicate their needs within a legitimate governmental structure months before the transfer of authority actually took place in June 2004.21 In that month, the Iraqi prime minister took the reins of the committee. It should be noted, however, that the change of ministers and deputies and the installation of the new IIG caused a noticeable degradation in their limited capacities.

The IGC and the fledgling IIG struggled to provide effective planning and efficiency across the various levels of government. The new Ministry of Defense was built from the ground up, and most of the civilians and officers hired to lead the agency had little experience working at the ministerial level. Because the original plans for OIF called for the immediate handover of policing and internal security to Iraqi authorities, the CPA did not dissolve the MOI. Unfortunately, there were similar structural problems with that institution, and it received far less attention after the toppling of the Saddam regime. This caused problems as the CPA began to reinstate the police forces.22 What emerged initially was a system in which the ministers of Defense, Interior, and Finance did not always coordinate their decisions and actions with each other. Further weakening the broader effort was the challenge of persuading the Shia and Kurdish factions to integrate their militias into the professional security forces. The difficulties of integrating and disbanding local and religious militias would continue to plague the CPA’s campaign into 2004.23

*In September 2005, responsibility for advising the Ministries of Defense and Interior was turned over to the MNSTC-I.

Chapter 11. Training the Iraqi Security Forces

Join the mailing list