Iraqi Army (IA)
New Iraqi Army (NIA)
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.
By February 2006, the Iraqi Army included over 105,000 trained and equipped soldiers, with 98 Iraqi Army and special operations battalions conducting counter-insurgency operations. The capability of Iraqi Army units continued to improve, facilitated by partnerships between Iraqi and Coalition forces. As of 23 January 2006, 98 Iraqi Army and special operations battalions were conducting counter-insurgency operations, 11 percent more than were reported in October 2005. Fifty-three of these battalions were assessed as being "in the lead or fully independent," a 47 percent increase since October 2005. Thirty-seven Iraqi Army battalions (29 percent of the trained and equipped units of the Iraqi Army) were reported to be in control their own battle space as of February 2006.
Significant strides had been made in building the Iraqi logistical structure during the first quarter of 2006, although Coalition forces continued to provide materiel movement, life support, and other combat support to the Iraqi Forces. The developing Iraqi system was comprised of comprehensive lines of support at the operational and tactical levels, as well as a national maintenance structure. At the national level, the Iraqi Army (along with the police) continued to rely largely on a US supply chain for materiel since Iraq did not have a defense industrial base.
By February 2006, Motorized Transport Regiments (MTRs) had been integrated into force generation plans to support each of the existing nine infantry divisions in order to provide improved mobility and sustainment capabilities for each division. Three MTRs were operational and were conducting critical logistical support missions for Iraqi Army units by moving personnel and materiel. The Coalition Corps Support Command was partnered with these units to mentor them and help develop their capabilities. A fourth MTR is being generated and was expected to become operational later in early 2006.
In addition to the MTRs, each combat battalion of the Iraqi Army was to have a Headquarters and Service Company to provide organic logistics and limited signal support. By February 2006, about half of these HSCs had been generated, and some were operational.
In early 2006, generation of combat forces continued according to the force structure plan. The 7th Division Headquarters and some division support companies were in the process of being formed and were scheduled to complete training later in early 2006. During the last quarter of 2005, the Iraqi Army's 9th Mechanized Division received 77 Hungarian-donated T-72 tanks and 36 Greek-donated BMP-1 armored personnel carriers. These vehicles were integrated into the 2nd Brigade, which was comprised of 2 tank battalions and one mechanized battalion. The brigade provided critical support for election security. These donations significantly increased the force protection capabilities of the Iraqi Army.
The basic training system had been expanded during the first quarter of 2006 and consolidated under the command of the Iraqi Training Brigade, which was to consist of 3 Iraqi Training Battalions (ITBs). Two ITBs were already operational at that point at the Kirkush Military Training Base (KMTB). The third battalion was partially formed and was conducting training at An-Numaniyah. New recruits attend a 5-week program of instruction at KMTB and An-Numaniyah. Upon graduation, they received an additional 3 to 7 weeks of training depending on their military occupational skill assignment. The specialized training developed infantry, supply, communications, administration, armor, transportation, maintenance, and military police skills, among others. Other training initiatives, such as the Military Intelligence School, Signal School, and Engineer Training School, were implemented, contributing to the professionalization of the Iraqi Army through diverse soldier specialties necessary to conduct and sustain combat operations.
Leadership development was a major focus during first quarter 2006, in order to build a capable and professional Iraqi Army. To achieve this, a system of Regional Training Centers (RTCs) had been established to meet the Iraqi Army's need for professionally trained junior leaders. Six RTCs enabled increased numbers of students to attend training such as the Squad and Platoon Sergeant courses, which contributed to the development of a non-commissioned officer corps. This concept was non-existent under the Saddam regime. Additionally, these RTCs were conducting the month-long Former Officer Course that provided human rights, ethics, and counter-insurgency training to officers who served in the former regime's Army and had now been recruited back into the Iraqi Army. A year-long Basic Officer Commissioning Course was being conducted at the 3 Iraqi Military Academies, with a class of 180 recently graduating from Ar Rustamiyah. The first class of 73 cadets graduated from the Iraqi Military Academy in Ar Rustamiyah in January 2006. The newly commissioned officers completed 52 weeks of intensive military training, including 2,490 hours of lessons and 14 field training exercises in a Sandhurst-modeled curriculum.
The leadership courses were complemented and reinforced through the daily guidance provided by Coalition Military Transition Teams (MiTTs) embedded with every Iraqi battalion, brigade, and division, as well as partnership with Coalition units. The MiTTs and partnership program provided mentorship and expertise critical for development of both unit proficiency and leadership, contributing to increased operational effectiveness. Monthly transition readiness assessments were prepared as a tool to measure each unit's progress and identify areas for improvement.
By May 2006, the Iraqi Army included approximately 116,500 trained and equipped combat soldiers (including Strategic Infrastructure Battalion personnel and approximately 9,600 support forces). The capability of Iraqi Army units continued to improve, facilitated by the close partnership and mentoring of Iraqi units by Coalition forces. In 2005, only 3 Iraqi battalions had led responsibility for security in their respective areas. By October 2005, that number had grown to 1 division, 4 brigades, and 23 battalions. By May 2005, the number of Iraqi Army units that had assumed the lead has doubled to 2 Iraqi Army divisions, 14 Iraqi brigades, and 57 Iraqi battalions.
Force generation of Iraqi Army units, which was increasingly focused on combat enablers, continued through May 2006 according to the force structure plan. Of the planned 9 Motorized Transportation Regiments (MTRs) to support each Iraqi Army light infantry division, 4 were at least initially operationally capable. These MTRs provided improved mobility and sustainment support for the Iraqi forces. The operational regiments were conducting critical logistical support missions in partnership with the Coalition Support Command. As of May 2006, all nine MTRs were expected to reach initial operational capability by mid-2006. Under the Iraqi Armed Forces Logistics Concept, the 9th Mechanized Division would be supported by a total of 5 Logistics Support Battalions, of which 2 were operational operational as of May 2006. Generation of the remaining battalions would significantly increase the division's ability to sustain itself throughout its area of operations. As of May 2006, approximately 80 percent of the required Headquarters and Service Comapnies, to provide logistical support for other units, had been formed, of which 41 percent were operational.
During 2006, the Army also maintained command authority over the Strategic Infrastructure Battalions (SIBs). The SIBs, initially conceived by the Iraqi Transitional Government, were to be evaluated for effectiveness in securing the strategic pipelines, but by May 2006 remained limited in their ability to protect the critical oil pipelines. Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) had expanded its train-and-equip mission from 4 to 11 SIBs to reflect the increased Iraqi Army authorization of these units. These battalions were built on the standard light infantry model. These battalions were home-based and as a result were scheduled to receive fewer vehicles than regular Iraqi Army battalions. Training of these battalions utilized a "train the trainer" model that focused specifically on squad- and platoon-level tasks.
As of August 2006, the Iraqi Army included approximately 115,000 trained and equipped combat soldiers (including SIB personnel and around 9,600 support forces). By that time, all 3 planned Iraqi Training Battalions were formed and fully operational. These battalions allowed the Iraqis to train soldiers independently in sufficient quantities for force generation completion and replacement needs. Three of the 9 planned Motorized Transportation Regiments (MTRs) were approaching full operational capability. While a shortfall of fully competent maintenance personnel adversely affected full capability, these MTRs provided improved mobility and sustainment support for Iraqi forces. Approximately 80 percent of the planned Headquarters and Service Companies (HSCs) had been formed, with one-third being operational. The remaining planned HSCs were scheduled for completion by December 2006.
Also in August 2006, there were 17 Strategic Infrastructure Battalions (SIBs) being trained and equipped. Although the Iraqi Army maintained operational control of the SIBs, at that time only one SIB was capable of planning and executing independent operations, and all 17 required Coalition logistical support. The capability of the SIBs was seen as growing as they received training and more modern equipment. Multi-National Corps - Iraq (MNC-I) partnered the more capable SIBs with locally deployed Iraqi Army units to provide them with counter-insurgency experience and to accelerate their leaders' professional development. Evaluation of their effectiveness in securing infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines in northern Iraq, was ongoing at the time.
By November 2006, the Iraqi Army force generation plan was slated to train and equip a total of approximately 125,000 soldiers and officers in 36 brigades and 112 battalions. Nine Motorized Transportation Regiments, 5 logistics battalions, 2 support battalions, 5 Regional Support Units, and 80 Garrison Support Units would provide logistics and support for divisions, with the Taji National Depot, part of the Ministry of Defense, providing depot-level maintenance and re-supply. Headquarters and Service Companies would provide logistical and maintenance support for each battalion, brigade, and division. The Army would also include 4 Strategic Infrastructure Brigades, 17 Strategic Infrastructure Battalions, and a Special Operations Forces Brigade. Efforts to improve the capability of these units were led by Military Transition Teams, with US and other Coalition officers and soldiers embedded in each battalion, brigade, and division headquarters; at the Iraqi Ground Forces Command headquarters (IGFC); and at the Joint Headquarters (JHQ).
In late 2006, the Iraqi Prime Minister had announced an Iraq-funded $800 million initiative to expand the Iraqi Army by 3 division headquarters, 5 brigade headquarters, 20 battalions, and 1 Special Forces Battalion. This initiative was expected to take one year to complete and demonstrated the willingness of the Government of Iraq to invest in its security forces.
Between August and November 2006, the JHQ assumed command of the IGFC, which had, in turn, assumed operational control of two divisions from MNC-I. By the end of the 2006, the IGFC was expected to control 3 of the 10 Iraqi divisions, with the remaining divisions transferring to Iraqi control by June 2007. Embedded Coalition advisors would continue to assist in the development of JHQ and IGFC capabilities.
By November 2006, 7 of the 9 planned Motorized Transportation Regiments were operational and under direct control of their respective Iraqi Army divisions. Although lack of trained maintenance personnel and equipment delayed full capability, the Motorized Transportation Regiments provided mobility and sustainment for Iraqi forces. The final Motorized Transportation Regiment finished training in late October 2006. Also, approximately 90 percent of the planned HSCs had been formed and were at some level of operational capability. The remaining HSCs were scheduled for completion by December 2006.
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