Iraqi Army (IA)
New Iraqi Army (NIA)
As of Spring 2007, the Iraqi Army was central to Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MOD) counterinsurgency operations and strategy. The Army component of the Objective Counter-Insurgency Force consisted of 131,300 soldiers and officers in 36 brigades and 112 battalions as of March 2007. The Iraqi Prime Minister's Expansion Plan increased the Army by 2 division headquarterss, 6 brigade headquarterss, and 24 battalions.
Nine Motorized Transportation Regiments (MTRs), 4 logistics battalions, 2 support battalions, 5 Regional Support Units (RSUs), and 80 Garrison Support Units (GSUs) provided logistics and support for divisions, with Taji National Depot, a part of the Ministry of Defense, providing depot-level maintenance and re-supply. By the end of 2006, the last 2 MTRs had been generated and were released to Multi-National Corps - Iraq (MNC-I). Although lack of trained maintenance personnel and equipment has delayed full capability, the MTRs provide mobility and sustainment for Iraqi forces. Headquarters and Service Companies provided logistical and maintenance support for each battalion, brigade, and division.
The Army also supported a Special Operations Forces Brigade and 3 Strategic Infrastructure Brigade headquarters commanding 17 Strategic Infrastructure Battalions (SIBs). 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 (IGFC) headquarters; and at the Iraqi Joint Headquarters (JHQ).
Force generation of Iraqi Army units as of March 2007 was increasingly focused on combat enablers and logistics. Three Iraqi Training Battalions were formed and fully operational. These battalions allowed the Iraqis to train soldiers, independent of Coalition support, in sufficient quantities for force generation and replacement needs. New recruits attended a 13-week program of basic instruction. Upon graduation, soldiers received additional training specific to their military occupation. Depending on their military skill, the length of training ranged from 3 to 7 weeks. Other training institutions, such as the Military Intelligence School, the Signal School, the Bomb Disposal School, the Combat Arms School, the Engineer School, and the Military Police School, contributed to the growing professionalism of the Iraqi Army by teaching diverse specialties necessary to execute counter-insurgency operations.
In early 2007, the Iraqi MOD and the JHQ were developing processes to reduce the reliance on Multi-National Forces - Iraq (MNF-I) to direct, support, and sustain MOD forces. The transition of Iraqi Army divisions and the IGFC to MOD control marked the first time since the removal of the former regime that any Iraqi Army combat forces are under complete Iraqi command and control. The transition also meant that the MOD, through the JHQ, had assumed responsibility for support and sustainment planning for these divisions, as well as for forces transferring to JHQ command and control in the future.
By June 2007, the Iraqi Prime Minister had directed that the 17 SIBs go through a 2-phased retraining and equipping process to transform them into regular Iraqi Army Battalions. These battalions would have special skills directed towards infrastructure protection and consequence management. In addition, as part of Iraqi security force analysis, the GoI had determined the need to generate 2 more battalions with these skills in the 3rd Iraqi Army (IA) Division's area of operation.
The implementation of the national counterterrorism capability concept was on track during the first two quarters of 2007 in order to meet a Full Operational Capability by December 2007. Under this concept, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade would be under the operational control of the Counter Terrorism Command, part of a planned Counter Terrorism Service (eventually created as the Counter Terrorism Bureau in mid-2007), independant of the MOD or the Ministry of the Interior. The Iraqi Army was to maintain responsibility for logistical and administrative support of the Special Operations Forces.
In July 2007, the Iraqi Prime Minister directed the establishment of an additional division headquarters and light infantry division which, upon completion, would bring the total force structure to 13 divisions. The 12th Division Headquarters, consisting of the headquarters and Military Police and Signal Companies, was designated for generation as part of the Prime Minister's Initiatives in 2006. This divisional headquarters was to assume a portion of the 4th Division's area of operation and assume command and control of several 4th Division brigades.
In July 2007, based on operational considerations, the Iraqi Prime Minister directed that the 14th Division Headquarters be generated in lieu of the 12th Division Headquarters. This unit, consisting of the headquarters and Military Police and Signal Companies, would assume a portion of the 10th Division's area of operation in the southern portion of Iraq. The 14th Division (Light Infantry) would be formed by cross-leveling several 10th Division brigades. The remainder of the divisional soldiers for the 14th Division were expected to be generated during late 2007, with their training and equipping expected to be completed in 2008. The 14th Division represented the 13th division overall for the Iraqi Army. However, there would not be a 13th Division due to the cultural sensitivities regarding the number 13. Generation of the 12th Division would now be delayed to 2008 due to the increased priority of generating the 14th Division.
The Iraqi Army, as of September 2007, consisted of approximately 131,600 soldiers, according to MOD payroll data, organized into 12 divisions. Total personnel authorized for ground forces were 171,300. Supporting elements consisting of a Training and Doctrine Command, 5 RSUs, and 28 GSUs, assigned approximately 14,500 support personnel at that time. Their total authorizations were 16,700. Prior to that point, 80 GSUs were planned, but many of them had been consolidated into larger units to ensure that each possessed organic base defense capabilities. All of the RSUs and 15 of the 28 GSUs had embedded Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) transition teams as of September 2007. As part of the transformation of the SIBs into elements of the regular Iraqi Army, their name was changed to Iraqi Army Infrastructure Battalions (IAIBs). By late 2007 one IAIB had moved to a Regional Training Center and would begin training in the near future. In May 2007, all Iraqi Army divisions had been assigned responsibility for infrastructure protection in their areas of responsibility with operational control of Infrastructure Battalions. Full integration was projected to occur after the units were retrained to the same standards as regular Army soldiers, expected in late 2007 to occur possibly by early 2009.
As of November 30, 2007, the IA's operational divisions consisted of approximately 137,000 assigned soldiers and officers. The divisions were manned at 112 percent of authorized strength in order to bolster present-for-duty strength (79 percent of authorized strength), compensating for the policy of monthly leave so soldiers can travel to their homes to bring pay to their families. There wes a shortage of 30,000 officer and NCO leaders and future requirements would require approximately an additional 20,000 in 2008. There were 11,932 former officers currently serving in the IA.
The MOD was attempting in late 2007 to improve accountability for IA personnel. By November 2007, the MOD had dropped approximately 21,000 Iraqi soldiers from the rolls for desertion and being AWOL. Two military justice laws, the Military Crimes Code and the Military Procedures Code became law in August and September 2007, respectively, providing military commanders the ability to punish absenteeism and desertion. As of November 2007, no one had been charged under the new laws.
By late 2007, a number of units were in force generation, including one division headquarters, 7 brigade headquarters, and 27 battalions. By the end of 2007 3 additional brigades, 4 support companies, 5 infantry battalions, a motor transport regiment, a logistics battalion and an infrastructure repair regiment would begin the force generation process. The IA continued to build units as planned. Efforts to bring units, the infrastructure battalions, and the Presidential Brigade under the command and control of the MOD also contributed to the expansion. Two Kurdish Peshmerga Divisions were potentially to be integrated into the IA as well. The MOD and JHQ was exploring how best to properly program these divisions, provide the equipment and basing required and train them in accordance with MOD force generation priorities.
By the end of 2007, a new practice in the IA force generation process was unit set fielding. This process allowed for generated units to enter the force at higher levels of manning, training, and equipping readiness. It was conducted at multiple locations, leveraging existing training capabilities. Initially, the Coalition led planning and execution with IA support. After 6 months, the IA led with the Coalition in support. Throughout the process, Coalition MiTTs were integrated and in an overwatch posture to advise unit set fielding to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, the process developed Iraqi Army capabilities for force generation, training, maintenance and property accountability. The unit set fielding and training began with individual skill tasks and specialized equipment tasks and incrementally builds to small unit collective tasks.
At the tactical level, the IA's ability to plan and execute deployments had progressed steadily through November 2007. A number of units were able to plan and operate with minimal Coalition support, as evidenced by the Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority (RIP/TOA) of 2 Iraqi brigades during on-going counterinsurgency operations, one from the 10th Division and one from the 8th Division. These 2 divisions effectively conducted a successful RIP/TOA during September 2007. During the same period, the 10th IA headquarters moved from Basrah to Camp Mittica in preparation for the establishment of the 14th Division headquarters. Though the transfer experienced some difficulties, the move was planned without Coalition support and executed by the Iraqis with minimal Coalition support.
As of November 2007, the IGFC had assumed command and control of 11 IA divisions, including 37 brigade headquarters and 113 battalions. The 6th and 9th Divisions had subsequently been subordinated to the MOD's Baghdad Operations Command, with IGFC retaining administrative control. Operations commands expanded to include Karbala, Samarra, Basrah and Diyala. These were seen as relatively inexpensive interim steps that could ultimately result in establishing 4 Corps Headquarters, an Iraqi conceived concept that was still in development in late 2007.
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