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Iraqi Army (IA)
New Iraqi Army (NIA)

Iraqi Army

The first battalion of the Iraqi army was founded on 06 January 1921 under the name of Musa Al Kadhum battalion, then other military battalions, brigades and divisions and later nominating the three sorts: the ground forces, the air forces and naval forces were completed. On the time of King Faisl, the S. Ltc. Gen. Ja'far Alaskary was the first Iraqi minister of defense since Jan. 6th 1921 till Nov. 29th 1936. The military adventurers then tried to make the army an active means to achieve their aims to control the government and people through repeated coups d'etat.


Following Operation Iraqi Freedom and the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, the decision was made to establish a professional Iraqi army. This New Iraqi Army, as it was initially known, would replace Saddam's army with a professional force for maintaining peace and stability. The New Iraqi Army's primary responsibilities would be for border protection, securing roads and installations, and clearing mines and unexploded bombs left over from the war. Only a small number of officers would be employed in the new army, as plans called for it to be much smaller than that of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's. The US administration in Iraq envisioned the new army to be purely for defense and wholly separate from the civil police force unlike during the Hussein regime. Units were to reflect Iraq's religious, regional, and ethnic mix, be non-political, under law-based civilian control, and a force for defense and security-not aggression and oppression.

Initial assumptions that the Iraqi military and other security forces could be reformed were seriously flawed. When the security forces were largely disbanded, the Coalition had no plan to rebuild them. The Coalition decision to use a private company to build the New Iraqi Army also proved problematic. On June 25, 2003, the U.S. Army, acting on behalf of the CPA, awarded the Vinnell Corporation a $48.0 million “cost plus fixed fee” contract to train the first nine battalions, or 9,000 recruits, of a 44,000 person-strong “New Iraqi Army” (NIA). Separately, a $30.0 million task order was issued under the existing Logistics Civil Augmentation Program for logistical support to the NIA training program.

As early as 2003, the media was reporting problems with the capabilities of those being trained by Vinnell and its subcontractors, including Military Professional Resources, Incorporated (MPRI). As a result, the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF-7) contracted the Jordanian military to supplement the training effort. Major General Paul Eaton, overseeing the Coalition Military Assistance Transition Team (CMATT), questioned using contract trainers, saying: “soldiers need to train soldiers. You can’t ask a civilian to do a soldier’s job.” In April 2004, an NIA battalion refused to fight insurgents in Fallujah, and soon thereafter Major General David Petraeus took over the training mission.

With the advent of the insurgency in 2003–2004, the United States abandoned its initial security plans, which called for a relatively small IA oriented toward border-defense missions. Instead, U.S. and GOI officials embarked on a multi-year programto recruit, train, equip, and deploy a robust IA capable of conducting aggressive counterinsurgency operations inside Iraq.

Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 22, Creation of a New Iraqi Army, dated 7 August 2003, established a military force for the national self-defense of a future free Iraq. Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 23, Creation of a Code of Military Discipline for the New Iraqi Army, dated 7 August 2003, established a system of discipline to maintain order in the New Iraqi Army.

Excluded from this New Iraqi Army were:

  • Former persons from regime security organizations
  • Intel organizations
  • Special Republican Guards
  • SSO
  • Ba'ath Party security and militia organizations
  • Top-level Ba'ath Party members

Former military officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and below were to be accepted into the new organization, with all other males between the age of 18-40 years and not listed on excluded list also allowed to sign up at recruiting centers. Recruitment Centers were been set up in Baghdad, Al Basrah, Mosul with an additional one at Irbil planned.

As of 15 February 2004, more than 3,500 personnel had been recruited. Nearly 2,000 were operational and over 1,700 were in training. A groundbreaking ceremony for a new training base for the Iraqi Army took place in Kirkuk on 29 April 2004. The facility was expected to eventually accommodate an entire brigade of soldiers.

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. The interim government parceled out responsibilities for specific branches of Iraq's armed forces, Allawi said. New units included:

  • Infantry Brigades;
  • the Iraqi National Guard (previously the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps;
  • Rapid Intervention Forces; and
  • Iraqi Special Operations Forces

Prime Minister Allawi said the army would focus on border defense and homeland security. "The reserve forces of the army will also assist in dealing with the domestic threats to our national security," he noted. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) would be renamed as the Iraqi National Guard and would come under the command of the army, which would also include the Iraqi Intervention Forces and Special Operations Forces. "The national guard would be increased, and their training level upgraded. Six new local divisions will be established, as well as 18 brigades and 50 regiments at least. The Iraqi special forces, which are highly trained and equipped with advanced tools," he continued, "will stalk and arrest all the terrorists and those who tamper with the security of our homeland and citizens."

New Iraqi Army and Iraq Civil Defense Corps Dispositions as of 30 April 2004.

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Page last modified: 01-12-2014 19:05:58 ZULU