Training the Iraqi National Police

From Ministry of the Interior Ad Hoc Paramilitaries to Professional Carabinerie

The development of the Iraqi Police, at the local, provincial, and national levels, is crucial to the counterinsurgency campaign and allowing security to transition to the Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi police, particularly the National Police units, have had numerous problems, including infiltration by Shia militias, a lack of professionalism and leadership, poor training and logistics, a lack of equipment and ammunition, and a lack of Coalition supervision. While 2006 was designated as The Year of the Police, the sectarian violence brought about by al Qaeda’s destruction of the dome of the al Askaria mosque in Samarra derailed the advancement of the police. Despite these problems, the National Police has slowly progressed from an ad hoc paramilitary Shia militia to a professional federal police force due to changes by the Interior Ministry and Coalition trainers.

In 2005, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior consolidated its ad hoc Police Battalions into the Emergency Response Unit (SWAT battalion), the 8th Police mechanized brigade (3 motorized battalions), the Public Order Division (4 brigades/12 battalions), and the Special Police Commando Division (4 brigades/12 battalions). Those forces were later merged into the Iraqi National Police (INP) in May 2006, and for the first time embedded Coalition trainers were allowed to work with and advise this paramilitary Corps of 2 divisions/9 brigades/28 battalions. These forces were redesignated 1st National Police Division (1st through 4th Brigades), 2nd National Police Division (5th through 8th Brigades), the 1st National Police Mechanized Brigade, and the Emergency Response Unit. The Iraqi budget for 2007 funded and formally authorized this force for the first time in 2007.

In addition, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I) and Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) instituted an inspection program during the summer of 2006 called Phase I-Quicklook (Inspector General inspections) to determine where and what problems existed in this force, which already had a reputation as a Shia Militia Army. The Quicklook inspections and reporting from the newly embedded NPTTs resulted in a follow-on brigade training program and a major purge of the INP. As part of that purge, both INP division headquarters were temporarily disbanded in the fall 2006, leaving only the INP headquarters to provide command, control, and support.

Phase II “Re-Bluing” (3 weeks at Numaniyah) followed Phase I. This phase started with the worst INP brigades first and focused on leadership, civil policing skills, and key collective tasks required at the small unit. Included in this training was a revetting and elimination of undesirables and the first brigade training these forces had ever received. As of June 1, 2007 this INP housecleaning had resulted in seven of nine brigade and 14 of 25 battalion commanders relieved for cause. According to Lieutenant General Dempsey, the INP is 85 percent Shia and probable goal is 65 to 70 percent through attrition and replacements, and they are making sure the leadership is mixed. Lt Gen Dempsey also mentioned that 7-8,000 INP officers graduate per year and the INP is one year behind the Iraqi Army.

The status of the Phase II training is as follows:

* The 4th INP Brigade was the first sent to Phase II training and graduated with a 30 percent replacement rate on November 3, 2006. The 4th INP Brigade is currently deployed to East Baghdad.

* The 8th INP Brigade was relieved at the same time as 4th INP, sent to Taji, purged by 40 percent and then went through Phase II with the 1-1st INP mechanized battalion, graduating December 14, 2006. The 8th INP Brigade is currently deployed to Northeast Baghdad.

* The 3rd INP Brigade was next up and by then Phase II was extended to 4 weeks with additional close-quarter entry drill. The 3rd INP Brigade graduated with 15 to 20 percent replacement rate on February 15, 2007 and is currently deployed to Salman Pak in support of Operation Marne Torch.

* The 1st INP Brigade graduated prior to March 15, 2007. There have been no reports on replacements, but an overall average of 20 to 25 percent fired throughout all units indicates this brigade lost 15 to 20 percent of its personnel. The 1st INP Brigade is currently deployed southeast of Salman Pak in support of Operation Marne Torch.

* The 2nd INP Brigade graduated on April 2, 2007. This completed the retraining of all of the 1st INP Division’s brigades. The 2nd INP Brigade is currently deployed to Southwest Baghdad.

* The 7th INP Brigade graduated on April 30, 2007. Prior to its relief by the 3rd INP brigade, the 7th Brigade owned Bayaa District of Baghdad and was equipped with a platoon/company’s worth of Reva APCs. The 7th INP brigade is currently deployed to southeast Baghdad.

* The 6th INP Brigade graduated on June 8, 2007. The reason for the extra week and replacement rate has not been reported. The redeployment of this unit location is undetermined.

* The 5th INP Brigade is expected to go to Numaniyah in the July/August time frame after it is relieved in Baghdad’s Karkh District.

* The 1st INP Mechanized Brigade’s last elements are expected to go to Numaniyah in the July/August time frame. The 1st battalion of the 1st INP Mechanized Brigade went to Numaniyah with the 8th INP Brigade last fall. The unit is currently deployed to Baqubah n support of Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

* The 10th INP Brigade is reportedly still forming and is expected to be the last unit to get the Phase II brigade training prior to deployment to guard the Samarra Mosque reconstruction project.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Williams, the MNSTC-I public affairs officer, Phase II concludes this fall, as “The current contract, taught by BLP International, ends mid-October 2007.” As of March 2007, Phase II had already seen several senior INP officers relieved of command, including the removal of both INP division commanders in November 2006. The INP have changed from a Shia-dominated force with only two Sunni battalion commanders to four of nine INP brigades now Sunni-commanded and almost half of the 27 battalions Sunni led. As of June 8, 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior has so far removed seven of the force’s nine brigade commanders and 14 of its 24 battalion commanders for human rights abuses, corruption, or ineffectiveness. An entire brigade (the 8th) was taken off the streets for retraining after its leaders and some of its members were linked to Shiite death squads. With the housecleaning finishing up this summer, the INP is moving on to more advanced training and employment.

The Phase III “Gendarme” training by the NATO Training Team was approved June 11, 2007 and announced on June 15, 2007. “I’m optimistic that NATO will come in with the Italians as a lead nation to turn the National Police in Carabinieri and that has a lot of potential,” said Lt Gen Dempsey. The Carabinieri – similar to the Gendarmerie in other countries – would provide more equipment and training – such as in crowd control and the rule of law – an area where the INP are “far, far less sensitive than they need to be,” Lt Gen Dempsey said.

Another key element in reforming the INP would be removing up to half of the units from Baghdad and sending them to other parts of the country to serve as an interim force between the local police and the Army. “Baghdad’s tempo is such and the level of violence is such and the pressures are such and the scrutiny is such that we’ve got to get some of them into a part of the country where they can develop because it’s very difficult to develop when you’re in knife fight every day of your life,” said Lt Gen Dempsey. INP brigades are already operating half in Baghdad and half in the outer-belts or training as briefed by Lt Gen Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, on May 31.

“The Carabinerie training is a Part III of the plan. It is actually a ‘Carabinerie Like’ training that will be leader focused and concentrate on Counter Insurgency Operations,” said Lt Col Williams. “Approximately 450 NP (leader heavy) from one Battalion of each brigade of the National Police will receive this specialized training which is currently scheduled to start in September 2007. So, the 450 individuals are not the entire Battalion just a portion of that battalion. The training will last 12 weeks and will be repeated until all the brigades have their 450 trained individuals. This is also a train-the-trainer type of training where the trained individuals will return to their units and carry on the training as they have received it. This is not a new concept as the same type training concept was used by the Italians in the Balkan’s recently.” This phase will take part of an INP brigade through a 90-day “Carabinaeri like” counterinsurgency training based on the successful Balkan model used by NATO.

Major Herdis Sigurgrimsdottir, the Public Information Officer of the NATO Training Mission – Iraq (NTM-I) described the status of Phase III training according as of June 20 in a recent interview with The Fourth Rail. “Right now Camp Dublin (at BIAP) is being built up to suit the training, equipment is being procured and most importantly: the first Carabinerie officers arrive from Italy on Friday – Insha’Allah. These Carabinerie officers will be an advance planning team who, amongst other things, will design the curriculum of the training in cooperation with the Iraqi National Police authorities. The curriculum will be based on Carabinerie training but obviously it will be adapted to Iraqi conditions in full cooperation with the Iraqi authorities. The plan is to train 8 battalions over two years, so each battalion will have approximately 3 months of training.”

“The Carabinieri will provide training in the following areas: Public Disorder, Law Enforcement, Investigations, Forensics, SWAT and Fighting in Built Up Areas,” according to Lt Col Gurtowsky (MNSTC-I CPATT). “Phase III is to start 90 days after North Atlantic Council endorses Italy led training plan based on Italian Carabinieri,” which means training should start in late September or early October.

Phase IV training of the National Police will focus on “Security for Natural Disasters, Pilgrimages and Emergencies” according to the latest quarterly report. This phase is not expected to be implemented or even have a finalized curriculum until sometime in 2008 at the earliest.

Much of the actual training will be done by Iraqis, as the policy is to train-the-trainers so as to develop the Iraqi Security Forces long-term capabilities. “In general, NTM-I has very consciously aimed towards making the Iraqi institutions we’ve supported self-sufficient. Many of our projects have already reached Full Operational Capability – more are reaching that goal on 1 July,” according to Major Sigurgrimsdottir. “At those institutions NTM-I have ‘trained the trainers’ and remains now as merely a lean mentoring and advising force. I presume that the Carabinerie training will be established and executed in the same way, although the details of that transition will be defined in the future.”

In parallel with this training, the INP continues to conduct operations and has been partnered with the Iraqi Army to facilitate operations and logistics. They are training up a serious Federal Police Paramilitary Force while still conducting operations within the Baghdad Operational Command, re-establishing their own division headquarters and logistics (similar to IA), providing components to a Joint IA/INP Military Police brigade while providing a battalion to the Iraqi Security Force Operational Reserve. According to the last released Quarterly Report to Congress, while they do not own battle space, seven NP battalions are in-lead while the other 20 are partnered, and 3 new battalions are forming. The professionalization of the INP continues despite the challenges of wartime counterinsurgency operations.

“He either fears his fate too much, and his deserts are small, he who dares not put it to the touch to win or lose it all.” Montrose’s Toast (Paraphrased: “Who Dares Wins”)

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  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 07/03/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • john knowlton says:

    Thanks DJ, I think this is the only article I have seen that thoroughly covers the goals, process, and training of the Iraqi Police, let alone giving it even cursory coverage. Progress is slow, but definitely moving in the right direct. Yet the libs, who demanded more and more time for Pres Bush to try to find a UN solution to Iraq before we invaded in 2003, and who now demand more time to negotiate with Iran, demand instant action and resolution of the process of turning Iraqi security over to the Iraqi Army and Police.

  • ajacksonian says:

    With so many cops in uniform, there is a good leavening of on-the-street experience and combat experience. That is vital to start laying the groundwork for the Iraqis to learn the basic tools of the trade from those who do that here… and then see how they get applied. Little did we expect that the gang and organized crime experience from the US would prove so useful in Iraq: learning to scope out the person-to-person networks that run organized crime and terrorism, and identifying their patterns and behaviors. Those skills, as we have now seen, can be broadly applied to criminal and terrorist concerns.
    When the IP gets a strong ‘internal affairs’ system up and running, and that has backing to clean out the bad apples, then we will see something that is damned rare in the Middle East. I don’t expect that to fully work… but then the US has its own police forces with poor internal affairs capability, too… NOLA, Detroit…


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