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1st Division, Iraqi Army
Iraqi Intervention Force
Iraqi National Task Force Division

In June 2014 a lightning offensive saw Al-Qaeda-inspired forces drive government security forces out of some of Northern Iraq’s key cities. Four Iraqi army divisions simply disappeared. Mitchell Prothero of the McClatchy Foreign Staff reported July 14, 2014 that "The 1st Division also is basically gone, losing two brigades in Anbar province earlier in the year, then two more during last month’s Islamic State onslaught, including one brigade that in the words of the senior Iraqi politician was “decimated” in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad."

The 1st Division, Iraqi Army was formed of the battalions of the Iraqi Intervention Force. It consists of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Brigades, the 1st Motorized Transportation Regiment, and a Headquarters and Service Company.

The Iraqi Intervention Force was created a branch of the Iraqi Army specifically trained in counterinsurgency operations. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi of Iraq's interim government announced organizational changes for the country's security forces, along with a plan for taking on Iraq's enemies, at a 20 June 2004 Baghdad news conference. Allawi envisioned the Iraqi rapid intervention forces thwarting sabotage elements, "especially those who chose to hide behind innocent Iraqis in our cities and villages." As a first order by Iraq's new Ministry of Defense, the all-Iraqi Intervention Forces began patrolling the streets of Baghdad on 28 June 2004. The IIF itself had been formed from the Iraqi National Task Force (INTF) division, the Iraqi Army's first division sized element. The INTF had been formed in response to the debacle with the 2nd Battalion, Iraqi Army's failure in combat in Fallujah. While being moved to participate in that April 2004 siege, some battalion members refused to fight other Iraqis and the unit returned to Taji.

Since the conception of the Iraqi Intervention Force as a specialist counter-insurgency unit, born of necessity in April 2004 when conventional Iraqi forces proved unwilling and largely incapable of dealing with the intensified insurgency in Fallujah, the force expanded to a strength of 9 battalions of approximately 800 men. The unit was large by new Iraqi Army standards at the time where efforts has been made to slim down new regular army battalions to 400-500 men. The emphasis on the IIF development was very much on urban operations, which were the focus of an additional 5 weeks of instruction after the initial four of basic and eight of cadre training.

Initially the IIF nominally consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 6th Brigades of what was in 2004 a 9-brigade Iraqi infantry. The rapid force generation and revisions in the Iraqi Army's organization meant that unit nomenclature was at times unclear. As of April 2006, the unit identifications being used in the IIF were the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Brigades. By 2008, the Iraqi Army as a whole had attempted to rationalize its unit designations for brigades, redesignating all 54 brigades to start in sequence starting with the 1st Brigade, 1st Division.

On 20 March 2005, a major development was marked by the transferral to IIF control of the centre of Mosul. In previous weeks, the 1st Brigade had seen considerable action in the area. On 17 February 2005, during a 'cordon and search' operation in nearby Tel Afar in which 4 insurgents were killed, a large cache of weapons including artillery round, grenades and hundreds of round of ammunition was uncovered by the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade. A week later the same unit made raids, which led to the discovery of 2 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Operations in and around Mosul in early March 2005 saw the successful co-operation of the 23rd and 24th Battalions, 6th Brigade, with both coalition forces and the 21st Battalion, 3rd Brigade of the regular Iraqi infantry. Most operations at the time involved raids in response to tip-offs about the whereabouts of insurgents or counter-attacks, resulting most frequently from insurgent small arms fire and drive-by shootings directed at urban patrols and checkpoints. Such counter-attacks led in March 2005 to the capture of a number of mortar tubes, mortar rounds and an RPG launcher.

As of April 2006, the IIF was paired with the United States' 2nd Marines and was operating in Karbala and Al Anbar.

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Page last modified: 15-07-2014 20:21:07 ZULU