Mapping Iraq’s Concerned Local Citizens programs


Graphic displays Iraq’s Concerned Local Citizens programs by province. Click map to to view, then hover over a province to display information by province.

Since the change in counterinsurgency strategy early this year — including the increase of the number of US troops in theater, pairing them with newly formed Iraqi units, and pushing the units into areas previously ignored — Iraqis have formed local security forces called Concern Local Citizens. These groups are often made up of tribal militias and former insurgent forces that have turned on al Qaeda in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, and other radical extremist groups.

The Concerned Local Citizens are little more than ad hoc auxiliary police forces. Nevertheless, their impact on the security in their areas is large. Lightly armed and wearing uniform that is often nothing more than a reflective road guard vest, the Concerned Local Citizens provide security in their neighborhoods by establishing checkpoints, conducting patrols, providing intelligence, and accompanying Iraqi and Coalition forces on combat missions.

The groups receive no arms. They are, however, often paid directly by US forces. The Iraqi government is slowly considering the status of these local forces. In some cases they are integrated into local or national police forces or into the Iraqi Army. In many cases, the Iraqi government is hesitant about integrating these Concerned Local Citizens groups into the security forces, as some leaders and many members just recently fought against the Iraqi government.

Inspired and sometimes assisted by the Anbar Awakening, the ranks of the Concerned Local Citizens have skyrocketed since the surge began. “Currently, there are approximately 72,000 active Concerned Local Citizens, which includes approximately 60,000 Iraqis on contract which are being paid a monthly wage, and another 12,000 serving as CLC volunteers,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported on December 9. Another 17,000 have served in the groups but are no longer active.

There are Concerned Local Citizens groups in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, and in many of the provinces, the groups are still forming. “There are currently almost 300 CLC groups throughout Iraq… There are 1800 former CLC members who are new full fledged members of the ISF, with 10,000 former CLC in Anbar ISF…”

This is not just a Sunni movement, as Shia groups have and still are forming to stop the influence of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army. In some areas, Concerned Local Citizens groups are manned by both Shia and Sunni members.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry stated Concerned Local Citizens will be integrated into the police forces, but did not specify a timeframe. “All tribal fighters in the different Iraqi provinces will be merged into the police forces within a national project to attract young men seeking jobs in the Iraqi police without any political interferences in this respect,” Major General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf al Kinani, the head of the ministry’s national command center, told Voices of Iraq on December 4. “[The Interior Ministry] has formed a committee to train tribal fighters and another to consider whether they should have special uniform. The law is above all. There will never be armed groups outside the framework of the law.”

American commanders have stated that it is unlikely that all 72,000 volunteers can be integrated into the official security forces given ISF growth projections — especially as improved security in certain areas reduces the need — and are advocating plans to transition some Concerned Local Citizens employment into rubble removal and other public works projects.

Sources on data for the presentation include Multinational Forces Iraq, Voices of Iraq, Reuters, and The Associated Press.

DJ Elliott, CJ Radin, and Bill Ardolino contributed to this report. With special thanks to Rob Neppell of Kithbridge for producing the CLC map, and Marvin Hutchens of ThreatsWatch for assistance.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • anand says:

    Omar from has expressed great concern about murderers (of ISF and Iraqi civilians) being incorporated into the CLCs. Many Shia Iraqis share similar concerns.
    What is known about the vetting of CLCs? And what is being done to allay the concerns of local Iraqis, especially Shia, that those guilty of crimes against Iraqis will not be allowed to join.
    {Off topic: Omar’s suggests that 1,000 resistance fighters be publicly executed to end the resistance. Many Iraqis suggest similar ideas. The point that we Americans should take away is that many, even most Iraqis, view former resistance fighters with great hostility and suspicion.}

  • the nailgun says:

    Great report very thankful for map, have wanted to see something like this for yonks. Only one site was ever going to provide it, this one!
    Would love to see a breakdown of Baghdad on same basis.
    I also wonder whether the CLC’s could not become govt recognised and paid but become an additional wing of ISF with rep’s from US Mil. and IA etc running the show. Sort of like a home guard to be de-mobbed when situation normal. That gives members recognition and a pay cheque but reduces risks of terrorists like Anand is worried about polluting the ISF proper.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I asked MNSTC-I about the CLCs being folded into an organized IA reserve. They responded that:
    For now there is no consideration given to a Reserve Force.
    Not that it isn’t going to eventually be a reality but for now the focus is on the fight and filling the security forces into the critical areas of Baghdad, filling the leadership shortages, and continuing to fill the ranks of the IA to 120%.
    CLCs are joining security forces but most are going into the police forces. The CLCs are really local and the police forces are the best fit for these groups. The CLC ranks are totaling over 77,000 right now and not all are able to join and there are not enough police jobs for all to join.
    Those who are joining may not stay over the long haul but those who are joining are doing very well.
    Dan Williams
    LTC, PAO
    Baghdad, Iraq

  • anand says:

    Thanks for sharing DJ.
    Is there any more information available about the vetting of CLCs, and how to allay the fears of many Iraqi civilians (especially Shia) that some criminals or former resistance fighters who have blood on their hands are joining CLCs?
    Omar or Ali, feel free to ask any clarifying questions you have regarding CLC vetting in the comments section here.

  • ECH says:

    I would hope former Baathists are joining on mass and know they are doing so. You have to seperate the Baathists and the jihadists. There are a select few with too much blood on their hands, but that is true of the Madhists as well.

  • Martino says:

    A friend in the Sandbox told me that retinal scanners are being used to i.d. and verify records of applicants. This may have only been in his area, but he said it not only works, but when word gets out, those who have records or are infiltrators don’t even bother applying.


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