Iraq develops the National Police mechanized forces

Iraqi National Police 1st Mechanized Brigade M1117 armored support vehicles at Karbala in March 2007

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.

Iraqi National Police 1st Mechanized Brigade M1117 armored support vehicles at Basrah in April 2008

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.

Reva Armored Personnel Carrier

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“.



  • Caleb says:

    Thank you for this series of reports on the layout and equiping of the various sectors of the new Iraqi Security Force elements. It has been seriously instructive. Additionally it gives a sense of comfort to see what direction they are headed in. I have come to believe, through these reports, that Iraq intends to become a stabilizing force in the Arab world, and a serious counterweight to Iran in the region. This has allowed me to believe that our expending of blood and treasure over the last 5 years in Iraq has not been wasted, and was the right thing to do, especially now that Pakistan seems to have gone to Hell in a handbasket. Not that we have not made mistakes in Iraq. We have, but the outcome has been a damn fine job by our world’s finest military. Damn good reporting job guys.

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    Great article as always
    I have new information for you. Today on Al-Hurra T.V the Iraqi national police commander has said; that the Iraqi national police force will exceed 80 thousand troops by the end of next year according to the source. Does this number match your predictions?

  • Ali says:

    Great Article DJ!
    Thanks for the information.
    Just one question: Do you have any information on the current levels of sectarianism that exists within the Iraqi police?
    I think some US commanders were calling for its dissolution before – has the IP improved a lot?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    jack winters:
    That fits with approx six of the Divisions by the end of 2009. A doubling of their current size. (12,000 to the division in INP.)
    Considering that MNSTC-I has said they plan to form at least a fourth division next year, that means they are probably accelerating the absorption of the provincial paramilitary brigades next year.
    Definately fits. Probably indicates that the high-end of my estimate is closer to the mark…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Depends on which element of the police.
    The INP has been house-cleaning for two years now and has a policy of having the CO shia and XO sunni or vice-versa since early 2007 to help clean up that problem. They are still negotiating to add a division’s worth of KRG Special Police to their rolls to further balance the force, but the KRG Government is holding out for local basing.
    The regular IP reflects the local population and thus will tend to be less balanced.
    The DBE also tends to be locally recruited.
    The problem child is the FPS. The MoI started taking over this problem from the 27 ministries and four seperate departments in January. At that time there were 150,000 on the official payrolls. By May that number had dropped to only 98,000. Mostly ghost employees. The retraining, re-equipping, and house-cleaning there is still a work-in-progress.
    Like I said, depends on which police…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    FYI: According to MNSTC-I SAO, the second notice to congress, for an additional 140 M1 tanks, is to be delivered this week.
    Keep in mind that the Iraqis are going to buy in yearly increments. The nature of their budget process. Their FY matches the CY.

  • KnightHawk says:

    Thanks for this series DJ, each has been very informative.

  • Joakim Ekström says:

    Impressive research, really!
    I’m interested to hear if there is any information out there on which coalition divisions that will have combat brigades replaced by battalions in the next six months or so. My understanding is that there will be a number of coalition combat brigades that will be replaced by battalions in the near future. If there will be U.S. draw downs while at the same time a BCT is deployed to Basra, that should add up to a number of brigade to battalion replacements. Any information would be much appreciated.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    34th Inf Div ARNG is the Div taking over southern Iraq, including Basrah. Just announced today.
    The UK is departing this spring. Most of our current shifts are to cover areas where our allies have left. The most likely next cut is the MEF in Anbar. Army will probably take over the area under MND-N and the Marines will go to Afghan.
    Also just posted at DSCA is the notice to congress on the additional 140 M1s and a lot more. 8 seperate notices.
    – 140 M1s
    – 400 M1126 Styker APCs
    – 400 M1117 ASV
    – 20 T-6A trainers
    – 36 AT-6B Lt Atk
    – 26 Bell-407 armed with 50cal, 2.75″ Rkt, and hellfire.
    – 20 Patrol Boats
    – 3 Offshore Support Vessels
    – 80,000 M16
    – 25,000 M4
    – 2,550 M203
    – Radios that look like FAC/Artl Observer sets to me.

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    WOW, that’s incredible
    A few questions, in my estimate Iraq will have 280 M1 do you know what the M upgrade is yet?
    400 strykers and about 600 M1117 for the Iraqi national police is that right?
    And as for the helo’s are they the same 24 407s or is the number now 48 407’s with the old order?
    The light attack aircraft 36 AT-6bs does this mean they won’t buy the aircraft from Brazil?
    And I didn’t get the idea why buy AT-6B when you can get apaches for the same price or did they decide that light attack aircraft are better?
    As for the boats they have with this order about 70 boats but no ships with helo’s, you can get a 70m ship that can carry sam’s and anti ship missiles and can work in shallow waters why only boats?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    jack winters:
    “A few questions, in my estimate Iraq will have 280 M1 do you know what the M upgrade is yet?”
    – Don’t know on the M but, it can’t be all that different than ours since we are training them with ours.
    Rest is mostly addressed in an article in progress.
    Don’t know if the Strykers are IA or INP. I can see them in either or both.
    50 Bell 407s. First order was 24, this is for 26.
    “The light attack aircraft 36 AT-6bs does this mean they won’t buy the aircraft from Brazil?”
    Undetermined ATT…
    “And I didn’t get the idea why buy AT-6B when you can get apaches for the same price or did they decide that light attack aircraft are better?”
    – I suspect they are for composit armed recon sqs. They have an ISR feed link that works with teh equipment that the King Air 350 and Caravan ISR birds carry. Think 4 squadrons with 4 CH-2000, 8 KA350 or C208 ISR, and 9 AT-6Bs each.
    They will have 4 PS, 40 PB, 5 OSV plus a Picket vessel.
    The other 50 boats are Marine squad transports for boarding and assault.
    You really need to quit thinking blue-water.
    Iraq’s 68km of coastline requires a green/brown water approach.
    Yes, they need SSM and SHORADs.
    Helos? Land based.
    They do not own or have a position to extend that far out and submerged subs end well south of there.
    I keep expecting the 16 Hueys to transfer to Naval support.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Also keep in mind that the Iraqi Navy is about fifth of the ISF services in priority.
    After ISOF, IA, IZAF, and INP.
    They are lucky to have what they already got.

  • jack winters says:

    Thanks DJ
    Did you read what the Defense industry daily wrote about the LAV’s, they’re saying Iraq cancelled the LAV-25 and changed it to the Stryker!!!, the other thing is they assume that the hello order is a clarification!!!!! So is it true I hope not. So what is it did they cancel?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I have RFIs in to MNSTC-I SAO. They are the ones that did the paperwork so they would know better than anybody except IMoD…
    Note: The reason for the BTR-3E1 order that was canx and the LAV-25 was because the BTR-80s were under-gunned for the planned role. The M1126 is armed the same as the BTR-80.
    Different roles and missions…

  • Trophy Wench says:

    Thats quite an impressive shopping list they just announced. I wonder though why they decided on the OPV purchase? Perhaps the Malaysian ship deal fell through or they finally realized that the “predator” class is fairly weak and difficult to maintain? (or both?)
    The announcement to go from just LAV’s to full blown Strykers is also very impressive. I would very much like to see the reasoning behind that one.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Differing roles and missions.
    – They started with BTR-80 but, decided they were under-gunned for the role of armored recon.
    – They first went to BTR-3E1 recon vehicles then canx then
    – They went with 4 bde sets of LAV-25 recon vehicles.
    The M1126 is armed the same as the BTR-80 and is an APC, not a recon vehicle.
    As to OPV, where did you see that?
    They are adding OSVs. Support vessels.
    The four PSs are the 2007 order.
    and the Malay order is still on track as of last month.
    This is additional PBs and support vessels.

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    New info is coming out that Iraq may perches the Hunter class UAV take a look at this link;
    This is the quote:-
    “According to Schechter’s reporting in C4ISR Journal, Iraq is not done yet. U.S. Air Force Col. Sean Frisbee, chief of staff of the Coalition Air Force Transition Team, told Schechter that the Iraq government recently submitted a letter of request to buy the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH-70), although that request is likely in jeopardy now that the Department of Defense scrapped the ARH program in October due to cost overruns. Iraq also is reported to be weighing whether or not to buy Hunter-class UAVs which, with a shorter range than Reapers or Predators and less demanding technology, could be integrated into the Iraqi military.”
    What do you think DJ?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    They could use the surveilance assets.
    They have the benefit of ours now.
    That will not be true forever…

  • Trophy Wench says:

    Ah, I read that wrong sorry. That definitely makes sense now.

  • jack winters says:

    Sorry typo error
    I was writing in a hurry, any way check this out. There is a new player in town check this link;
    The Electronic Systems Center came up with a plan for the Iraqi air force called “Safe Eagle”
    “ESC and MITRE International Operations specialists, in concert with a number of ESC acquisition groups, completed work earlier this year on a comprehensive Iraq Air Sovereignty Master Plan, a roadmap that will help enable the Iraqi Air Force to operate without U.S and coalition assistance. ”
    The plan stretches to 2019
    What do you think?

  • jack winters says:

    Also from the same source
    “ESC has already received several Letters of Request for the center to begin providing air traffic control equipment and communication systems. The 853rd Electronic Systems Group and the 350th ELSG are already engaged. Other ESC units, including the 753rd ELSG and the 651st Electronic Systems Squadron, which provides weather systems, also expect to engage in Foreign Military Sales programs stemming from the plan.”

  • DJ Elliott says:

    No details.
    Timeline is about right and fits with the briefed plan from last month. Stage 3 ends in 2020…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    “The proposed sale of the Stryker ICVs, along with the munitions and support vehicles, will be used to develop a viable police force”
    The Strykers and the M1117s are for 20 bns of INP Mech. In addition to the existing, 2 total divs.
    Katzman at DID has already changed his update…

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    The DID is saying that the M1117 order has been modified from the original order of 160 to now 400. Is that real or is the number now 560 plus what Iraq already has now, which is it?

  • Almaleki says:

    Hi DJ ,
    New Info :
    1- Iraq is negotiating Serbia On there Lazar APC >>> which i think indeed its for INP
    2-The M1A1M IS named Also M1A1 Aim


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