Baghdad today – follow-up
An article written by Michael Knights and Alexander Milo on behalf of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that Washington’s training of the anti-terrorism apparatus has made it the region’s best for taking out such a force that allowed the liberation and expulsion of Iraq’s strongholds in spite of the fiercest battles America has done in the Middle East.
When the last of the so-called “Islamic State” was removed in western Mosul in the second week of July 2017, it was appropriate that the 36th Commandos’ Books should direct the latest strikes. The 36th Battalion was the first unit of Iraqi Special Forces established after the fall of Saddam Hussein.Today it is the biggest actor in the “counterterrorism apparatus” – a force established by the United States with fewer than 8,000 elite troops, the most militarily and politically reliable force at the disposal of the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Army and the Federal Police have regained some public confidence since their collapse in June 2014 when Mosul and about 20 other cities fell into the hands of the Islamic State, but only two forces in Iraq retained the confidence of the Iraqi people throughout the war. The first force is the “anti-terrorist apparatus” known in Iraq as the “Golden Band”, a model of multi-ethnic and multi-ethnic nationalism. The other force is the Popular Mobilization Forces, a volunteer unit established by a religious edict and government orders in June 2014, under the leadership of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The development of these two forces will probably be the future of Iraq itself. Baghdad will need effective counterterrorism forces backed by the more advanced intelligence capabilities available to the US-led coalition if it wants to pursue the “Islamic state” in deserts, border areas, mountains, forest groves and urban caches in Iraq. Equally important, the Iraqi government needs loyal forces under the full command and control of the Iraqi prime minister, especially as the leaders of the Popular Popular Forces, such as Engineer Hadi al-Amiri (head of the largest faction in the Popular Forces), continue to operate outside the control of the prime minister.
Following the battle of Mosul, the forces of the “anti-terrorist apparatus” became exhausted. Being the best is a great loss. The US government estimates that the “counterterrorism apparatus” suffered “40 percent of casualties in the battle” in Mosul. In this article, we will consider the lessons learned from the first decade of the existence of the “machine” and apply it to the way in which the US-led coalition should support its reconstruction.
Why did the “anti-terrorism”
In June 2014, one-third of the “Iraqi Army” and the “Federal Police” collapsed, but the “Counter-Terrorism Bureau” continued and led the counterattack in Tikrit, Beiji, Ramadi and Mosul eventually.The US-trained “apparatus” continued to fight through its full mastery of the basic concept of force as well as its recruitment, command and training. The question that arises here is, what factors have made the “apparatus” so powerful while the other Iraqi security forces have proved to be very fragile?
Volume is a critical factor. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau (CTB) has remained small and has never been more than 12,500. In contrast, the Iraqi Army collected a combat force of 151,250 soldiers, and the Federal Police maintained a force of 82,500 soldiers during the fall of Mosul. The small size of the Counterterrorism Agency suggests that the selection and training criteria may be strict and similar to those used to recruit US special operations forces. If we take one of the May 2008 training programs as an example, we see that only 401 candidates (18 per cent) have graduated as soldiers in the Counterterrorism Agency out of 2,200 candidates. The small size of the “machine” allows for more salaries, living conditions and equipment than those received by other Iraqi forces. With a salary roughly equal to that of an ordinary Iraqi Army soldier, and almost identical to that obtained by a soldier in the US Special Forces, the Counterterrorism Corps developed the spirit of elite solidarity and retained a skilled workforce, Best Army Officers in Iraq.
Unsurprisingly, the “apparatus” showed a higher level of discipline than other Iraqi units, and suffered far less corruption and infiltration of the militias to the extent that the United States was satisfied with the participation of some of its most sensitive intelligence and military equipment since the establishment of the “counterterrorism” This. The agency has succeeded in focusing on professionalism, sectarianism and allegiance to Iraq, which remains unmatched within the Iraqi security forces. It was the only “counterterrorism agency” among Iraqi forces that developed the beginnings of a strong cadre of sergeants.
On the battlefield, the Counter – It developed intelligence, used internal judges to issue warrants in a timely manner, conducted several arrests of insurgent cells every night throughout Iraq, operated its own helicopter forces, and quickly exploited and merged intelligence to launch new attacks. By the time of the US withdrawal in 2011, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau had developed into a precision counterterrorism machine and enhanced its reputation as one of the best special operations forces in the Middle East.
Options for reconstruction
The “anti-terrorist apparatus” has been very different three years after the fall of Mosul. His forces fought several conventional battles as a light infantry force from the elite in the US-supplied Humvee.In the second half of 2014, it was the “counterterrorism apparatus” that held up the Baiji refinery, which was trapped behind the lines of the “Islamic State”, until the blockade was eased by a convoy led by the “anti-terrorist apparatus.” In 2015, the Agency carried out urban evictions in Tikrit and Ramadi, followed by Fallujah and Mosul the following year. Old officers and commandos were killed year after year, followed by the loss of 40 per cent of the frontline forces of the apparatus in Mosul. For example, at the beginning of the battle in Mosul, the soldiers of the regional commandos’ battalion numbered 350 and reduced to 150 in just 90 days of fighting.
According to the authors of this article of the units of the device, if this type of accumulated attrition is reflected in all its combat units, the total strength of the device would have decreased to about 7,600 soldiers during the writing of this article (2,700 in combat battalions, 1,900 in elements Headquarters, 2,400 units in the reconnaissance battalion and logistics, and another 600). According to our unit, the Anti-Terrorist Corps should have about 13,920 troops, which means that the machine is currently equipped with 54 per cent of the troops, but only 34 per cent of the troops in the combat battalions.
The counter-terrorism component and its specialized capabilities will have to be rebuilt to a large extent. There are two basic models for regenerating power. The first is to reduce the “counter-terrorism apparatus” to a system that focuses narrowly on traditional counter-terrorism. Gradually, the current tasks of the Light Infantry can be phased out as soon as the Islamic state is defeated from the remaining Iraqi territory it controls in cities such as Tal Afar, Hawija and Qaim. Under this model, the apparatus can “return” to the format it had before 2014. On July 14, Taleb Shagati Kanani, the former chief of staff of the Air Defense Forces under Saddam Hussein, This model is in line with existing law.The strength of the 18 Commando battalions, the four reconnaissance brigades, and several headquarters and logistics units will be strengthened and the intelligence of the body will be integrated.
The alternative model provides a more expansive view of what the “anti-terrorist apparatus” can become. Under this model, the Golden Band will be expanded and given more missions. In addition to its primary counterterrorism tasks, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau can continue to use infantry forces capable of carrying out conventional attacks on fortified positions controlled by the Islamic State or other hostile forces. This model recalls the tradition of commandos under which special forces are light infantry who perform special tasks during traditional military conflicts. This was the Iraqi method of using special forces in the Iran-Iraq war and invading Kuwait.
The government of Nouri al-Maliki has adopted this type of model since 2012 onwards, where Maliki sought to expand the “machine” to become a multi-force, the status of the “Republican Guard Special” [Imperial], including more than 30,000 soldiers with armored combat vehicles capable of Fight any local opponents, be they terrorists, militias or even military units. The appeal of this option lies in the fact that the most powerful force in the country will operate directly under the control of the prime minister.
At that time, the “counter-terrorism apparatus” was not enshrined in the law, nor was it accountable to the Council of Ministers or Parliament, nor to a legally constituted ministry. The risk is clear that such a force could be used for the undemocratic takeover of power by a current prime minister or the “counter-terrorism apparatus” itself. Maliki’s misuse of the apparatus at times to harass political opponents has deepened these fears, but the austerity imposed by falling oil prices has undermined expansion plans.
The successes in the battlefield and the “conventional” counterterrorism apparatus over the past three years will likely lead to a reconsideration, within the Iraqi government and within the US-led coalition, of expanding the “machine” into a light infantry force of multi-variance elite . Public confidence in the Iraqi Army, the Federal Police and the Popular Popular Forces will remain low when it comes to the complex tasks of fighting terrorism and reaching out to the Sunni population in some of Iraq’s harshest and most divided regions. Military tasks will be directed to “men who are able to carry out”, especially as the “anti-terrorist apparatus” is now a government department established legally at the ministry level (as of 13 August 2016). In fact, the US Department of Defense’s 2018 budget request states that the Counterterrorism Organization “build its non-sectarian power to 20,000 in the next three fiscal years.” This indicates that the system will strengthen its strength and then expand by 43 per cent over three years.
International Assistance to the “Counter-Terrorism Authority”
Resources will now be directed to the “Counter-Terrorism Authority”. As military expert David Witty, author of the upcoming Brookings Institution study on counterterrorism, noted, between 2008 and 2010, the CIA received about $ 225 million annually from the Iraqi government (a collection of discretionary spending from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry). In addition to this, about $ 55 million in US budget assistance is added each year. The final sum of $ 280 million was lower than the budget requests of the “machine”, which averaged $ 412 million over the same three-year period. We can conclude from the ongoing operational capability of the Counterterrorism Agency that in-kind support from the US intelligence services and the Special Operations Command has filled a large portion of the budget’s budget until the United States withdraws in 2011 and a small portion thereafter.
In 2017, the Iraqi budget included the first expenditure item for the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, totaling $ 683 million. If this Iraqi allocation is repeated in 2018, plus the $ 193 million required from US aid to the agency, the total will be an unprecedented $ 876 million, more than three times the largest budget received by the Counterterrorism Agency before 2014. What is the Can also be done to ensure that the resources are invested wisely and the survival of the “counter-terrorism” effective and good force? In particular, what can the US-led coalition do to ensure the best outcome?
The first thing that the Alliance can do is to continue to work together. The Joint Task Force – the “inherent solution process” – is more effective and flexible as a broad and multinational coalition than at any time the US-Iraq security partnership. First, the multinational forces bring real capacity and burden-sharing to the task of supporting the “anti-terrorist apparatus”. Australian, New Zealand, French, Belgian and Spanish Special Forces have contributed to the training of this body at its Baghdad training center and at the Taji training base adjacent to Baghdad. Second, the diversity of global powers involved, including most of the international actors on which Iran depends on foreign investment, protects the partnership from the attack by Iranian-backed militias operating within the Popular Mobilization Forces.
The second priority of the US-led coalition is to maintain a strong presence at various levels of the “anti-terrorist apparatus”. The close coordination and daily communication of American advisors allowed professional ethics to be instilled in the CIA until 2010, and there was a strong correlation between the agency’s low capacity to combat terrorism and the withdrawal of US advisers. The main levels at which such attendance should be included include:
Ministry level. As a new organization at the ministry level, it should now undertake all the functions that the Ministry of Defense has done on its behalf, such as personnel, medical support, infrastructure, overhead and maintenance of vehicles and spare parts. International capacity-building at the ministry level will have successive positive effects across the lower levels of the “counterterrorism agency”, the best way to reduce the risk of politicizing the organization’s leadership and human rights abuses through the establishment of relationships and early warning mechanisms. International advisers can help the agency modernize its national counterterrorism strategy and develop an Iraqi counterinsurgency doctrine.
The capabilities of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau have been upgraded to a high level with only a few hundred American advisers in safe locations such as the Al-Jahah training academy in the fourth district in Baghdad. These consultants have maintained standards by maintaining high “failure” rates in their selection processes. In the future, the SAI will train a very large number of reservists, with fewer veterans of the Iraqi “apparatus” leading the process, posing a threat to the standards that could be reduced.
Integration of intelligence. The CIA will now need to reorient its headquarters to integrate intelligence in Baghdad away from intelligence on the battlefield and counter-terrorism, and will need to rebuild its simple network of regional focal points and networks of supporting intelligence programs and judicial divisions (to issue arrest warrants). The Alliance must maintain direct contact with the headquarters of the Agency at various levels.
Key “empowerment elements”. Intelligence and air transport will be necessary to achieve the “wide-ranging” security quality of the “counterterrorism agency” when pursued by the “Islamic state” in remote areas and secret urban hideouts. Because of the critical role of helicopter attacks in the next phase of the war, the alliance must redefine the previously close ties between the US Air Force’s aviation division and the US military.
Can the “Counterterrorism Agency” reform the “Iraqi Army”?
The last priority of international supporters should be to strengthen close ties between the Counter-Terrorism Bureau and its sister agencies in the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and the Iraqi intelligence community. Irrespective of the logical benefits of coordination, the Alliance should view and exchange staff and staff as a means by which the “Counterterrorism Agency” can promote “interaction and exchange” with other Iraqi institutions. In the past, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau was keen to retain its staff and staff and was not inclined to return them to the Ministry of Defense (where they often grew up). As a result, other agencies considered the “organ” a threat.
Now the opposite is true quickly, at least at the level of senior leaders. In searching for the best talent to reverse Iraq’s military disasters, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi relies heavily on the “anti-terrorist apparatus” to take the lead. In January 2015, the Deputy Commander of the Executive Force was appointed by General Abdulwahab Al-Saadi to lead the northern campaign to liberate Tikrit, Beiji and then Mosul. In May 2015, Major General Karim al-Tamimi was appointed to head the security department in charge of the government center in the International Zone in Baghdad. In July 2016, following the devastating blast on the high-end Karrada district of Baghdad, Abadi appointed Major General Jalil Abdul-Jabbar al-Rubaie, then director of intelligence at the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, as head of the Baghdad Operations Command, which controls nearly Of 60 per cent of the total workforce of the Iraqi security forces. Major General Irfan Al-Hayali, the head of the Training and Development Department of the long-standing Jihadi, was recently appointed defense minister in January 2017.
Instead of supporting the expansion of the “anti-terrorist apparatus” that could make Iraqi special forces less “distinctive,” the US-led coalition must help the “machine” to serve as an incubator for military talent. This may mean rotation of the counter-terrorism staff to work in other ministries, the Iraqi Army and the Federal Police. This rotation can help the Iraqi Army strengthen its commando battalions and special units, and acquire skills in counterinsurgency and terrorism.
The exchange of elements could reduce militia control of the powerful Interior Ministry, now led by the Iranian-backed Badr Organization and its Emergency Response Team, which has recently been linked to gross human rights violations. The “machine” can accommodate up to a “grass-roots mobilization” force and rotate its officers through “popular mobilization forces”, which may reduce the risk of future tensions between these forces. The counterterrorism agency needs to be better – not bigger – than its sister agencies, and to be a model of professionalism and loyalty to the Iraqi constitution.
US efforts to develop Iraq’s security forces are a major and costly failure, but at least one element has been a resounding success: the anti-terrorist apparatus. Of all the institutions established by the United States in Iraq, the “counterterrorism agency” was the best prepared and effective and could remain so.The IAEA needs sustained US support if the United States wants it to remain a permanent landmark and live up to its hopes and goodwill for Iraq.
Michael Knights is a fellow of Lever at the Washington Institute. He has worked in every Iraqi province and in most of the 100 areas, including those spent by the Iraqi Security Forces and the Peshmerga, most recently with the Joint Task Force – Operation Endogenous Solution. Alex Milo is the principal security analyst at Horizon Clint Axes, an advisory services firm working with leading energy companies in the world.
Baghdad today publishes the text unchanged or revised by the Washington Institute