Iraqi Security Forces and Popular Mobilization Forces: Orders of Battle

Any U.S. strategy relying on a partnered force must proceed from a realistic assessment of its capabili­ties and intentions. The Institute for the Study of War completed an Order of Battle study to evalu­ate the capabilities and disposition of the ISF. This study also presents an Order of Battle of the PMF to help U.S. decision makers and forces on the ground recognize and remediate the presence of Iranian-backed militias within the ISF.

Al Qaeda Clearing the Path to Dominance in Southern Syria

Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Southern Syria. An assassination campaign targeting mainstream opposition commanders and governance officials is facilitating al Qaeda’s consolidation of power along the borders of Jordan and Israel. Southern Syria stands at increasing risk of becoming a second Idlib Province, which currently serves as a formidable safe haven for al Qaeda.

ISIS Plotting Attacks from Afghanistan

Afghanistan remains a safe haven for terrorist plots against the U.S. homeland. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham’s (ISIS) affiliate in Afghanistan and an American ISIS member in Pakistan coordinated an attack attempt in the U.S. in early 2016. ISIS seized at least one district in northwestern Afghanistan in early November, and is assembling new foreign fighter units. ISIS will use this safe haven to conduct new attacks abroad.

Iran’s Role in the Kirkuk Operation in Iraq

Iran provided decisive military support to compel Iraqi Kurds to surrender in Kirkuk, Iraq, on October 16, 2017. Military forces from three major Iranian proxies participated in the operation: Katai’b Hezbollah, Asai’b Ahl al Haq, and the Badr Organization. Iran did not attempt to outshine Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in public. Iran instead allowed Abadi to take credit, while quietly positioning its proxies to influence Kirkuk in the future.

The Kremlin Targets Ukraine Through Hungary

Russia has likely exploited recent tensions between Hungary and Ukraine to support its campaign to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its neighbors. The Kremlin has also revived its subversion in Western Ukraine focusing on minorities’ autonomy issues. It is unlikely that the Kremlin intends to create an insurgency there as it did in Eastern Ukraine, but it may create another fissure that destabilizes Kyiv.

The "War after ISIS" begins in Iraq

A battle is underway between the Iraqi Government, backed by Iran, and Iraqi Kurds for control of Kirkuk, Iraq. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Counterterrorism Services (CTS), Federal Police, and Iranian-backed popular mobilization forces (PMF) launched a combined offensive with intent to seize the K1 military base, the Kirkuk airport, and Kirkuk’s oilfields from Kurdish Peshmerga forces at 2:00 a.m. on October 15th.

Catherine Harris


Catherine is a graduate of ISW’s 2017 Hertog War Studies Program and a Research Assistant on the Russia/Ukraine portfolio at ISW, where she focuses her research on the Kremlin’s global objectives. She previously interned with ISW where she contributed research on Russia’s role in the former Soviet Union. Catherine holds a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin where she also studied Russian language.