Iraqi Army (IA)
New Iraqi Army (NIA)
As of 1 January 2008, divisions in the Iraqi Army (IA) consisted of approximately 141,000 assigned soldiers and officers. The divisions were manned at 113 percent of authorized strength in order to bolster present-for-duty strength (81 percent of authorized strength), compensating for the policy of monthly leave. Despite significant increases in the percentage of officers (43 percent to 73 percent) and NCOs (33 percent to 69 percent) assigned to IA units, a shortage of approximately 18,200 officer and NCO leaders existed and future requirements meant that an additional 20,000 would be required in 2008. As of January 2008, 10,086 former officers (referred to as "rejoiners") were serving in the IA.
By March 2008, IA monthly attrition rates averaged approximately 3.6 percent due to casualties and other factors. In 2007, approximately 24,500 Iraqi soldiers were dropped from the rolls for desertion or being AWOL. IA AWOL reporting typically lagged other personnel accounting by over a month. Based on extant trends, once final CY07 AWOL data was available, up to 27,000 personnel were expected to be dropped from the rolls. Existing reporting methods as of March 2008, used by the Iraqi Joint Headquarter (JHQ) Personnel Directorate (JHQ M1) did not track specific reasons for soldiers going AWOL. Although soldiers took leave to bring their pay home, there was no factual or anecdotal evidence to support claims that the policy led to increasing AWOL rates. Some soldiers had to travel significant distances from their units to go home on leave, and the issue did contribute to low present-for-duty rates over extended periods. In recognition of this problem, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) was attempting to reduce extended leave and travel time by assigning soldiers to the same general areas from which they were recruited.
By March 2008, the IA had developed, and was starting to implement, several concepts to increase the number and quality of leaders. These initiatives included accelerated officer commissioning programs for university graduates, waivers to existing time-in-grade or time-in-service promotion requirements and active recruitment of former Iraqi officers and NCOs. Additionally, the top 10 percent of each Basic Combat Training class attended a "fast-track" Corporal's Course. To improve leader quality, the IA had initiated a comprehensive process to document required leader competencies, policy, training support, promotions and training delivery for both officers and NCOs. The IA was to conduct a pilot course for a revised Sergeant's Course in May 2008. This "proof-of-principle" would train 40 sergeants who would become a training cadre to establish a new Sergeant's Courses at each Regional Training Center (RTC). Lessons learned from this developmental process would then be used to refine the remaining NCO and officer leadership courses.
As of March 2008, a number of units were in force generation, including one division headquarters, 5 brigade headquarters and 22 battalions, including an Engineering Infrastructure Battalion. By the end of March 2008 2 additional brigades, 6 support companies, 5 infantry battalions and a motor transport regiment were to begin the force generation process. The IA continued at that time to build units as planned, and the MoD and JHQ work together to prioritize force generation units and to determine resourcing requirements for equipment, basing and training.
In the spring of 2008, logistics unit development and generation was progressing at an accelerated rate based on projected 2008 IA force generation growth. This generation included 13 logistics Base Support Units (BSUs), one aligned to each IA division. Additionally, the generation of Motor Transport Regiments and Headquarters Service Companies for 2 additional divisions continued on schedule. These logistics units were necessary for the IA to achieve more complete self-sufficiency. Coordination with the MoD and JHQ focused on the continued effort to maximize the training bases to full capacity to meet the requirements for force generation and replenishment.
At the tactical level, the IA's ability to plan and execute deployments steadily progressed. A number of units were able to plan and operate with minimal Coalition support by spring 2008, as evidenced by Operation Lion Pounce in Diwaniyah, successful planning and execution of the Hajj security plan and the Mosul security plan. The deployment, as of March 2008, of over 20 battalion or brigade headquarters from their traditional areas of responsibility showed an increased capability for the IA to assess and deploy troops where they were needed. There were still improvements to be made in their abilities to specify command relationships and properly sustain these units. As of February 2008, the IGFC had assumed command and control of 12 IA divisions, including 40 brigade headquarters and 122 battalions. The 6th and 9th Divisions had been subordinated to the MoD Baghdad Operations Command for tactical control with IGFC retaining administrative control. Operational commands had expanded to include Ninewa, Karbala, Samarra, Basrah and Diyala. The IA planned an additional operations command for Anbar in 2008. These actions were seen as potentially ultimately result in the establishment of 4 Corps headquarters, an Iraqi conceived concept that was still in development in early 2008.
In early 2008, the Iraqi Army Infrastructure Battalions (IAIBs) were conducting a retraining and reequipping process that would transform them into regular IA Battalions. The MoD decided to convert these units to a light infantry structure, trained in infrastructure protection using equipment on hand. The first 6 IAIBs and 2 brigade headquarters programmed for transition into regular IA units had completed training by March 2008. The Engineering Infrastructure Battalion (EIB) was training at that time at the Taji training center. The MoD, Ministry of Energy (MoE), and the Ministry of Oil (MoO) were coordinating on the development of this unit, and it would generate in 2 phases between December 2007 and May 2008. Phase I would include generation of a Headquarters and Service Company, 2 Security Companies, and an Electric Repair Company. In Phase II, a Pipeline Repair Company would force generate and receive specialty training assistance from the MoO. This unit would provide the IA critical capability to repair damaged electrical power lines and oil pipelines in unsecured areas, with the support of the mobile security companies. The 2 security companies would undergo unit set fielding at Combat Training Center Besmayah. Equipment funding was being provided via a joint effort between Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) and the US Embassy's Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO).
As of June 2008, the IA had 11 infantry divisions and one mechanized infantry division organized under the Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC). These consisted of approximately 169,000 assigned soldiers and officers. The IA also had approximately 18,000 soldiers assigned to training and support forces that are distinct from IGFC.
As part of an expansion and growth initiative, the Iraqi Prime Minister had directed over-manning of the existing divisions and the establishment of one additional division in order to maintain adequate present for duty levels. The additional division was in force generation as of June 2008. Additionally, the IA had redesignated the naming convention of its brigades. Brigades were subsequently numbered in sequence from 1 to 54 starting with the 1st Division.
By June 2008, the EIB had completed training at the Taji Training Center. The MoE continued to provide training for the Electrical Repair Company personnel and the MoO provided training for the Pipeline Repair Company.
As of September 2008, the IA had 13 infantry divisions and one mechanized infantry division organized under the IGFC. It was assigned 180,296 soldiers, exceeding its authorization of 171,262 soldiers and officers. The IA also had approximately 22,000 soldiers assigned to training and support forces.
The IA continues to grow in size. As part of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) expansion and growth initiative in early summer 2007, a directive to over-man the existing divisions, as well as to establish a new division (the 14th IA Division), was issued. In the spring of 2008, the PM directed the formation of the 17th IA Division, which was created using excess forces from the 6th IA Division. Since these soldiers were still on the 6th IA Division payroll, the assigned strength of the 17th IA Division was reported as 0. Force generation plans for this division were ongoing as of September 2008. Additionally, the IA and the JHQ leadership were coordinating with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to develop a plan to integrate 2 Kurdish Peshmerga divisions into the IA. However, the level of Government of Iraq (GoI) and KRG leadership support for this initiative remained unclear.
Operations during summer and fall 2008 in Amarah and Diyala demonstrated that IA leaders were increasingly able to plan, coordinate, and execute counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. In Amarah, the MoD and Ministry of the Interior (MoI) worked together to attach the 6th National Police (NP) Brigade to the 1st IA Division. Additionally, the 38th and 10th Brigades were ordered to move to Amarah and were assigned to the 1st IA Division. In Diyala, the JHQ and the IGFC planned and coordinated the movement and repositioning of 4 brigades. All 4 brigades were detached from other ISF Divisions, integrated under the command and control of the Diyala Operations Command, and assigned to conduct security and stability operations.
Iraqi forces in Basrah, Sadr City, Mosul, Amarah, and Diyala continued into fall 2008 to pursue Al-Qaeda in Iraq and militia extremists. Overall, the IA continued to improve, but relied on Coalition forces for close air support, fire support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), logistics, sustainment, and communications. While operations in Diyala and Amarah demonstrated a gradual improvement in the command and support relationships of attached brigades from other IA divisions, IA units were seen as having to further improve their ability to specify command relationships. Recognizing this need, the IA continued to develop its command and control infrastructure and capability. As of July 2008, the IGFC assumed command and control of the planned 14 IA divisions, 52 brigade headquarters, 171 army battalions, 8 infrastructure battalions and 6 special operations battalions. Of these planned units, 2 divisions, 4 brigade headquarters, 18 army battalions, 2 special operations battalions, and one infrastructure battalion were still being formed at that time. Therefore, the ground combat power strength at that point was 164 battalions, with a total of 185 planned battalions. Also, operational commands had been established in Baghdad, Ninewa, Karbala, Samarra, Basrah, Anbar, and Diyala. These provided an operational headquarters for all (military and police) units operating in that region.
As of November 2008, the IA was manned to 57 percent of its authorized officers, 45 percent of its authorized NCOs, with 148 percent of total authorizations. IA personnel statistics reflected an average of 62 percent present for duty at any given time. The attrition rate of assigned personnel was 1.7 percent per month. The average leave rate was 23 percent of assigned personnel, well within the policy limit of 25 percent. The absent-without-leave rate was less than 1 percent of the assigned strength per month. The most critical personnel issues continued to be the need for a documented manpower management strategy, improved procedures for paying soldiers, accurate accountability procedures, and the need to transparently promote individuals based on merit. The 2008 BCT graduation total of just over 70,000 was well below the original goal of 114,600 established at a time of accelerated growth. Nevertheless, adequate recruits were on hand to meet 2008 force generation requirements, which were adjusted due to budgetary factors.
By the end of 2008, the IA had 13 infantry divisions and one mechanized division organized under the IGFC. The Ground Forces included 14 divisions, 52 brigade headquarters, 174 army battalions, 6 infrastructure, and 6 special operations battalions. Of these units, one division, two brigade headquarters, 14 army combat battalions, one special operations battalion, and one infrastructure battalion were still being formed.
IA combat strength as of December 2008 was 165 of 208 planned battalions (9 battalions in addition to the 165 were forming but not yet reporting). As of 31 October 2008, 67 percent of all formed and reporting IA combat battalions (110 of 165) had been rated at the top 2 levels of operational readiness and able to plan, execute, and sustain operations with minimal or limited assistance from Coalition forces. Five battalions of the 12th Division and one of the 2nd Division were still organized as IAIBs guarding Iraqi oil pipelines. By the end of 2008, the IA was to produce an additional division headquarters, 3 brigade headquarters, 8 infantry battalions, 2 motor transport regiments, one general transport regiment, and an army ammunition depot.
In the last quarter of 2008, there was continued improvement in training at the Divisional, Regional, and Combat Training Centers. The Warfighter (WFX) training program, which began in June 2008, rotated battalions through 3-week exercises focused on platoon and company level skills, staff leader training and battalion collective training. Basic Combat Training continued to train and assign soldiers to units from 8 training centers. Approximately 70,000 soldiers had completed basic training in 2008, with nearly 25,000 of them assigned to newly formed units. Additionally, more than 10,000 had completed training in one of the 8 different Military Occupational Skill Qualification courses: maintenance, transportation, signal, supply, administration, weapons armorer, military police, and medical.
By December 2008, 8 of 11 planned Divisional Training Centers were complete, with 3 more nearing completion during the last quarter of the year. One remained unfunded at that time. These centers include a range complex, combat assault course, live fire shoot house, and outdoor classrooms. They supported both Basic Combat Training and WFX exercises for the IA. However, billeting was limited, which restricted usage of the centers. The combined capacity at the time was limited to 14,600 students. Additional facilities planned in 2009 included dedicated AAR and medical training classrooms and weapon cleaning stations. The construction of 13 Location Commands, one for each IA division, continued. These commands consisted of warehousing, fuel storage, billeting, and life support facilities. The MoD was also planning to build 14 life-support base sustainment warehouses in 2009 to provide food storage capacity. Location Commands were expected to be completed in the spring of 2010, once funding was approved.
Despite significant improvements during 2008, several gaps remained in IA infrastructure. The most limiting factor was the availability of electricity when few bases had connectivity with the national power grid or a functional centralized power plant. Generators were used to offset this deficiency, but they were inefficient and unreliable and had compete with other facilities, such as water and sewage treatment plants, for power. Fuel and maintenance requirements for generators further complicated the situation.
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