|The U.S. has equipped and planned the future of the Iraqi security forces, but Baghdad is now exerting its own priorities over its military (Arab States.net)|
The United States set out a three-stage plan to develop Iraq’s security forces. The first was to put the Iraqis in charge of internal security. That started in 2006, and was completed in 2010. The second was to put the police in charge of internal security, a job that is now done in conjunction with the Iraqi Army. That was to happen by the end of 2011. The last part was to have Iraqis take charge of their external defense. The Iraqi military has plans to achieve that by 2020.
|Premier Maliki has tried to exert direct control over the Iraqi military, which complicates America's strategy for Iraq (Shatt al-Arab)|
|The Kurdish rebel group the PKK is based along the Iraq-Turkish border and invites annual military retaliation from Ankara. Baghdad has no means to stop these actions because of its weak border forces (IraqSlogger)|
|Iranian weapons are regularly captured in Iraq, but Washington and Baghdad have different ways of dealing with it (Arkenstone)|
|Iraq's Kurdish parties and Iran both complained about Baghdad's plans to buy F-16 fighters from the United States showing the internal and external problems Iraq has outfitting its forces|
Given all of these problems, Michael Knights presented three paths that Iraq could follow in developing its military. First, it could have a small military that was mostly for posturing against other countries, but not one really capable of defending itself against a serious attack. This would consist of 5-6 heavy brigades, and perhaps a dozen light infantry divisions. That path would largely depend upon diplomatic relations with Iraq’s neighbors to maintain security. Second, Iraq could build up its armed forces so that they could deter other countries. That would mean 3-4 armored and mechanized divisions with light divisions and heavy equipment. This would still be a small force that would also be affordable. Finally, Baghdad could embark upon a full-scale rearmament program to try to at least match Iraq’s previous standing as a military powerhouse in the region when Saddam Hussein was in power. That would require the government to appoint Iran its major rival, and fund 7 armored/mechanized divisions, 14 light infantry divisions, at least 10 internal security divisions, along with building up the federal police. This is the force that the Americans have envisioned for Iraq with tanks, artillery, air defense, offensive air power, logistics, etc. This is also the least likely to happen because of Iraq’s friendly relationship with Iran. That leaves something along the first two paths. Those can also be bolstered by a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq, or a security agreement between the two that would allow the Americans to come to the aid of Iraq if requested using the extensive bases that the U.S. maintains in other Middle Eastern countries. The problem with the former is that American troops are unpopular in Iraq, and growing more so day-by-day. There is an open question whether they will even get an extension to stay past the December 31, 2011 deadline for them to withdraw.
|Iraq has ordered 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks from the U.S, but doesn't have the ability to maintain them, which will require U.S. service contracts (2Space)|
After the 2003 invasion, the United States disbanded Iraq’s military. They then set about rebuilding it from scratch. That meant the Americans came up with all of the plans on how to develop the forces. Like too many things, this was based upon U.S. ideas rather than Iraqi ones. Now that the Americans are on their way out, and their influence is lessoning every day as a result, Baghdad is asserting its authority over its defense priorities as it should have from the beginning. That probably means many of the original U.S. ideas will be scrapped or modified. Iraq is likely to run into financial, political, and corruption problems buying all of the equipment it wants. As long as the current ruling parties are in power, the policy along the border will also be ambiguous at best. That means Iraq will end up with a brand new armed forces, but it will look and act a lot different than how Washington originally envisioned them.
Agence France Presse, “US shows evidence in Iraq rocket attacks it says leads to Iran,” 7/14/11
Craig, Tim, “With ‘big gun’, Iraqi soldiers see hope,” Washington Post, 6/19/11
Gompert, David, Kelly, Terrence, Watkins, Jessica, “Security in Iraq; A Framework for Analyzing Emerging Threats as U.S. Forces Leave,” RAND, 2/17/10
Al-Hasani, Mustafa, “Maliki’s allies are worried about the dominance of his party in the Iraqi military,” Shatt al-Arab, 7/14/11
International Crisis Group, “Loose Ends: Iraq’s Security Forces Between U.S. Drawdown And Withdrawal,” 10/26/10
Al-Jaff, Wissam, “Source: Iran presses on Iraq to replace US weapons deal with French,” AK News, 2/8/11
Knights, Michael, “The Iraqi Security Forces: Local Context and U.S. Assistance,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 2011
Press TV, “’Iraqi Kurds uneasy at US arms sales,’” 1/17/11
Rahim, Hemin Baban, “MP: Iraq Corruption “Tremendous,”” Rudaw, 7/16/11
Sabah, Bakhtiyar, “Iran setting up bases on Kurdistan border, says village chief,” AK News, 7/17/11
Saifaddin, Dilsahd, “PKK: Iranian troops on Iraqi soil,” AK News, 7/17/11