Armed Forces Overview: In May 2003, the armed forces of Iraq were disbanded by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that took control after Saddam Husayn was toppled. This process included the destruction of large amounts of military equipment. With training from forces and agencies of the United States, Britain, and other members of the CPA, new security forces have been in the process of formation. Former military and police personnel have been screened and organized as the near-term basis for security forces, following reversal of a 2003 decision to disband all Iraqi forces. Despite high unemployment, terrorist acts against the Iraqi military and police have depressed recruitment. More than 1,500 Iraqi police were killed in 2004. In March 2005, the minister of interior predicted that Iraq’s security forces would be fully staffed and competent in 18 months.
Army: The ground forces will account for the majority of the 35,000 personnel envisioned in the Iraqi Armed Forces. The New Iraqi Army is to be purely defensive and represent all the major factions in Iraq’s population. The initial organizational structure includes light infantry brigades (possibly an infantry division), rapid intervention forces, and special forces.
Navy: Plans call for a small naval force. In 2004 an estimated 410 naval personnel were active. In 2003 British Royal Navy units began training a small Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service, which eventually is to have 400 personnel and 22 patrol boats to regulate trafficking and illegal entry into the country via the Shatt al Arab. In 2004 Iraq deployed a Coastal Defense Force of 400, stationed at Umm Qasr, with five patrol boats and 10 rigid inflatable boats for use in the northern Persian Gulf.
Air Force: Plans call for a small air force whose main function will be reconnaissance of borders and potential targets of terrorist attack.
Foreign Military Relations: Beginning in 2003, the coalition forces in Iraq, particularly U.S. and British, performed the bulk of security operations and provided all military training for Iraqi units, and the United States was the source of Iraq’s military budget. Lacking in the coalition were France, Germany, and Russia, which opposed the 2003 military action against Saddam Husayn and provided little support in the two years that followed. Of 25 countries with troops in Iraq in March 2005, five besides the United States (Britain, South Korea, Italy, Poland, and Ukraine) had more than 1,000 troops; Italy, Poland, and Ukraine announced plans for full troop withdrawal in 2005.
External Threat: In 2005 unknown numbers of insurgents were crossing the borders with Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria to mount terrorist attacks inside the country. This situation accelerated the training of border police and the construction of border installations. Technology at existing points of entry was to be upgraded in 2005. Iraq was not the target of conventional attack from any outside force.
Defense Budget: The interim government of Iraq budgeted US$2 billion for military expenditures in 2004.
Major Military Units: In 2004 the air force had one air wing, composed of 500 personnel, with a domestic reconnaissance mission. In the army, plans called for the formation of light infantry brigades or one light infantry division.
Major Military Equipment: Iraqi equipment remaining intact after the war of 2003 and suitable for future use is to be absorbed into the new armed forces. The nature and numbers of that equipment are not known. In 2004 the air force had two Seeker reconnaissance aircraft; plans call for purchasing eight more.
Military Service: As of early 2005, Iraq had no conscription system, although a system could be established after the permanent government is seated in late 2005. Recruitment centers were established in Arbil, Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul.
Paramilitary Forces: The Department of Border Enforcement had 18,200 active personnel in 2004; the target number is 32,000. The department is to include three main functions: border police, a Bureau of Civil Customs Inspection, and a Bureau of Immigration Inspection. As new border police were trained, the basis of the force was experienced, screened Iraqi personnel. Although some 300 border installations are planned by Iraq’s international military advisers, at the end of 2004 about 50 were operational, and another 75 were under construction. The Iraqi National Guard, formerly called the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, had 36,200 active personnel in 2004, with a target level of 41,100. The mission of that force is maintaining internal security. In 2004 and 2005, U.S. army units recruited and trained National Guard forces. The lightly armed Facilities Protection Service force, under the Ministry of Interior, had 74,000 personnel in 2004, which was the required level. This force, whose members received a beginning salary of US$56 per month, was to protect infrastructure, particularly in the oil industry; government installations; and likely individual targets of assassination. In addition, an estimated 50,000 militiamen are attached to various factions represented in the National Assembly. Plans call for these forces to assume border and security assignments under the oversight of the national government.
Foreign Military Forces: In early 2005, an estimated 153,000 U.S. troops and 23,900 non-U.S. coalition troops were in Iraq.
Police: During the regime of Saddam Husayn, Iraq’s law enforcement system was marked by corruption and inhumane practices. After the previous police force was completely disbanded, in 2003 a new Iraqi Police Service was established to act as a municipal law enforcement agency under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. Plans call for a highway patrol element to be added in the future. The Police Service does not conduct investigative operations, but it has been assigned to support some operations of coalition military forces. In early 2005, a nominal total of 55,000 police officers had been trained, but the training and reliability of this force were under question. The target number for the force has been variously estimated at 65,000 and 89,000. In 2004 starting pay for police personnel was US$60 per month, with a hazardous duty allowance of an additional US$87 per month. Experts consider reform of the police system a long and difficult process. As under the Husayn regime, police corruption, extortion, and theft have continued to be a problem. In the January 2005 elections, the National Guard and police provided polling place security that monitors characterized as adequate, under threats of large-scale insurgent disruption.
The Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) was established in 2004 in cooperation with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to gather information on groups threatening national security. The president is to appoint the director of the INIS, which is to serve as an information agency for the Council of Ministers and have no law enforcement authority.
Internal Threat: In early 2005, the director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service estimated the number of insurgents in Iraq carrying out attacks and bombings at between 20,000 and 30,000. Those personnel were located mainly in Sunni-dominated central Iraq and were organized by surviving leaders of the Baathist establishment. An organization central to this threat is Tanzim Qaidat al Jihad fi Bilad al Rafidayn (TQJBR). Also known as Al Tawhid and the Zarqawi Network, TQJBR is led by the Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Its objectives are to expel the multinational coalition forces from Iraq and establish a state under Islamic law, and it has allied itself with the global anti-Western jihad of al Qaeda. In 2004 its presence in Iraq was estimated at between 500 and 1,000 operatives. Beginning in 2000, TQJBR has taken credit for numerous bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings in the Middle East; since 2003 its activities have been concentrated in Iraq. However, many independent militia groups are believed responsible for other such attacks. In the absence of effective security, conventional crime also has increased significantly since 2003. Kidnapping for ransom and the trafficking of women and workers increased particularly in 2004. The trafficking activity took advantage of Iraq’s loose border controls.
Terrorism: Since the toppling of Saddam Husayn in May 2003, coalition military forces, Iraqis involved with reconstruction, and the general public have been endangered by a variety of bombings, kidnappings, and executions conducted by insurgent forces believed to be primarily Sunni and of both domestic and foreign origin. Particular targets have been Iraqi police and military personnel and trainees. Terrorism escalated prior to the elections of January 2005. Many terrorist acts have been unattributed, and many apparently independent militias are known to have participated in them. The main identifiable organization has been Tanzim Qaidat al Jihad fi Bilad al Rifayn (TQJBR), under the leadership of Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
Human Rights: In the early post-Husayn era, some forms of human rights abuses continued to exist in Iraq, aside from those implicit in a society racked by terrorist acts. The Iraqi Corrections Service, which continued to run the prison system as it had under Husayn, did not meet international prison standards, although conditions improved in 2004. Some instances of prisoner abuse and torture were reported, and overcrowding and poor medical care were problems. The Iraqi National Guard, responsible for domestic security, was charged with abuse of detainees and coercing confessions, as were police agents. Specialized agencies such as the National Intelligence Service were charged with violating pretrial procedures.
Under the Transitional Administrative Law, the judicial system generally has functioned fairly, given its inherent limitations. Backlogs in the system have led to long pretrial detention, and in some cases detainees have not been notified of their status. The government has not impeded the work of foreign journalists, although several have been kidnapped or murdered and access to especially dangerous locations has been restricted.