Iraq develops the National Police mechanized forces
The Iraqi Government has been ordering substantial numbers of weapons this year. These orders, combined with known training plans, and existing force structure, provide insight into the eventual planned force structure of elements of the Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi Air Force, light infantry, light armored, and heavy armored/mechanized forces have been previously addressed. The focus of this article is on the announced arms purchases and what they indicate for developments in the Iraqi National Police.
The Iraqi National Police is planned to be approximately the strength of the Iraqi Army planned counter-insergency force that was built by the end of 2006, nine to 12 divisions. The three stages of upgrading the Iraqi Security Forces are organized into five year plans. The first stage started with the establishment of the first elected Iraqi Government in 2006 and it lasts until 2011. Stage one is intended to build a basic force.
The second stage is to build the forces up in capabilities including independent armored, mechanized, airmobile, naval, and air forces, thus converting the existing basic force into a heavier, more capable force. Stage two lasts from 2011 to 2015. The arms purchases for the beginning of stage two have been and are being announced.
The third stage is to complete the training and improvements. Stage three should be thought of as the insurance period for any slippage in training and developing the Iraqi Security Force, such as that caused by a reduced budget due to lower oil prices.
The order of 160 M1117 Infantry Support Vehicles indicates a plan to add eight mechanized battalions to the Iraqi National Police in 2009. The M1117s are normally mixed with South African Reva Armored Personnel Carriers in INP mechanized battalions. These additional battalions, combined with the existing Iraqi National Police 1st Mechanized Brigade will form the Iraqi National Police Mechanized Police Division that is planned to be based in Diwaniyah.
The location of the new Iraqi National Police Mechanized Division indicates that there are to be more than one and that they are to be regional reaction force divisions. The addition of eight mechanized battalions per year over the five year plan means the Iraqi National Police plan to have at least three, probably four light mechanized divisions. This component will fill the internal security role currently filled by Iraqi army mechanized and motorized forces.
If four mechanized divisions are formed, then one each will be assigned to Ministry of Interior Regions 2, 3, 4, and 5. Region 1 would not be suited for mechanized operations due to the rugged terrain (Kurdish Provinces). If only three mechanized divisions, then they will probably be one each in the north, south, and center.
The total Iraqi National Police Force will be at least nine, and probably 12 divisions (possibly more) with the transfer of the provincial paramilitary police brigades to the National Police. The reason for the varience in the estimated numbers is that it is still not openly known how many elements of the provincial forces will transfer to special operations forces.
The former Iraqi National Police Emergency Response Unit expanded to a brigade and was transfered to direct Ministry of Interior subordination over the last summer. It is now called the National Emergency Response Brigade. There are four other provincial brigades that are also called "National". They are the Sharqot National Emergency Response Brigade, Baqubah National Emergency Response Brigade, Baghdad National Emergency Response Brigade, and Karbala National Emergency Response Brigade.
The majority of the provincial paramilitaries that were formerly called emergency response brigades are now being referred to as: Emergency Brigade, Emergency Police Brigade, Provincial Security Force, or Special Police Brigade. This change in designations indicates that the Ministry of Interior Special Operations Forces are gaining four of the provincial brigades (at least). The Iraqi National Police is not going to take over all of those provincial brigades.
The Iraqi National Police is primarily an internal security force. However, like the Italian Carabinarie they are being trained by and modeled on, the Iraqi National Police has a secondary role as infantry forces in any external fight. This expansion of the Iraqi National Police and the increase in its capabilities with the addition of light armor, provides the Iraqi Army with the freedom to begin training and equipping its divisions for fighting external threats, while providing a backup reserve of motorized Infantry and light mechanized forces to the Iraqi Army in a general mobilization.
This is the fifth and final article in a series of articles on Iraqi arms purchases of 2008 and what they mean to the development of Iraqi Security Force components. The first was "Iraq announces plan to expand the Air Force." The second was "Iraq develops its light combat divisions". The third was "Iraqi Army develops its light armored forces". The fourth was "Iraqi Army develops the heavy mechanized and armored forces".