Professionalizing The Iraqi Army: U.S. Engagement After The Islamic State

Professionalizing The Iraqi Army: U.S. Engagement After The Islamic State
Professionalizing the Iraqi Army: U.S. Engagement After the Islamic State
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The authors of this illuminating monologue say upfront that this is not the United States’ first attempt to assist the Iraqis in building the Iraqi defense capacity. And the United States is not the first security partner to try. Iraqi military history suggests a pattern of strengths, weaknesses, and performance that includes courageous soldiers, cohesive units, incompetent leaders, divided loyalties, poor combat support, and weak institutions that have, on occasion, risen to the defense challenge.

As a result, the Iraqi Army continues to be plagued by a number of crippling deficiencies including a “dis-unified command”, endemic corruption, poor communications, intelligence, and logistics; and high rates of absenteeism, all of which are exacerbated by sectarian divisions inflamed and exploited by Iran.

The monologue notes the United States needs to first determine the purpose of this cooperation. Security cooperation with Iraq is not just about defeating the Islamic State or other terrorist groups. It should also not be about establishing a partner that can threaten Iranian interests. The Iranians and the Iraqis fought a long, bloody war and have no interest in doing so again. However, the United States stands to gain when Iraq can play a constructive security role as an accepted member of the broader regional and international community. Iran cannot get the Iraqi military to that point, but the United States can. Thus, the long-term goal of US security cooperation with Iraq should be to establish its military as a valuable security partner, capable of participating in regional security arrangements, much in the same way Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and even Oman does. Of course, getting to that point depends on political developments the United States has limited ability to influence, much less control.



 Members of the military, Veterans and Veteran organizations, military historians, students and teachers engaged in military/warfare studies, and members of the general public interested in military operations would find this publication interesting and useful.


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Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute
  • Pfaff, Anthony, C.
Key Phrases:
  • Army SSI
  • Iraqi Military
  • Islamic States
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