Iraqi Security Forces

As mandated by the  Security Agreement, Coalition forces in Iraq are drawing down and all combat troops must be gone from Iraq by the end of 2011.  In light of this transition, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has taken on an increasingly important role in the provision of security for the Iraqi people.

As of early 2009, the ISF was comprised of over 550,000 members.  There are three principal components of the ISF: the Iraqi Army (IA), the Iraqi Police (IP), and the National Police (NP). The Iraqi Army and the National Police are both national-level assets, with the IA under the command of the Ministry of Defense and the NP under the command of the Interior respectively. Conversely, the IP are recruited and deployed within local communities. 

With time, the Iraqi Security Forces have increased in tactical and operational capabilities. Performance his been mixed overall, due to resource limitations and infiltration by affiliates of militias.  The IA is the most capable branch of the ISF, though it is hindered by logistical limitations and a lack of enablers.  The NP have seen a transformation from an extremely sectarian force to a legitimate and effective agent of protection.  The IP, while intended for establishing civil and not military order, still faces significant challenges as a result of sectarianism and the current security situation.  Their rise as a force will be critical to the establishment of a state in which order is ensured by police and not the military.

The Iraqi Security Forces have had problems with militia infiltration of their ranks (especially the Iraqi Police, which has had a large element of Shi'a militia members). This has particularly been the case with Shi'a and Kurdish militias. Conversely, the ISF has under-represented the country's Sunni Arab population.  While incorporation of 20% of the Sunni Sons of Iraq into the ISF will shift the Shia-Sunni balance in the ISF, logistical challenges and mutual mistrust has made this process difficult.  However, this intergration is an important component of national reconciliation between different groups.