Iraqi Military Doctrine
OE Watch Commentary: Following the dramatic withdrawal of military and security forces from Mosul, commentators scrambled to pithily explain the Iraqi Army’s sudden decline. One of the strongest memes to emerge from this endeavor is the notion that the Iraqi Armed Forces lack a military doctrine (’aqida ’askariyya).
The first two accompanying excerpts, both transcripts from talk shows on al-Jazeera, illustrate this argument. The first comes from a mid-May discussion, prior to events in Mosul, with Dr. Mohanad al-Azawi, the head of Iraq’s Saqr Center for Strategic Studies. The second comes from an appearance by Dr. Yahya al-Kubaisi, a leader in the al-Karama political bloc, immediately following the withdrawal from Mosul. Both authors view the failure of Iraq’s Armed Forces to develop a new joint doctrine following the American withdrawal as a key reason for the current crisis.
Nouri al-Maliki and his supporters beg to differ. For them, it is only now that Iraq is emerging from a long era in which national institutions, and particularly the Armed Forces, were sacrificed for the narrow political interests of top Baath Party leadership. The third accompanying excerpt, from a January 2014 speech by al-Maliki to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi Army, illustrates this narrative.
If the Armed Forces are to help keep Iraq together, a new joint doctrine may need to emerge soon. In the meantime, the Iraqi government is attempting to form a new volunteer force and has put Mohammed Qurayshi “Abu Walid,” the former head of the Wolf Brigade who is reviled by many Sunnis, in charge of the Nineveh counteroffensive. A national solution to the rapid decline of the Armed Forces thus does not appear forthcoming. As a result, Iraq is heading toward an internal war that will merge with Syria’s and put strong pressure on the current political boundaries between these two states. End OE Watch Commentary (Winter)
Source: Mohanad al-Azawi. “The Iraqi Army… What Doctrine? What Operations?” al-Jazeera (fi al-‘amq, transcript), 19 May 2014.
Missions in Iraq today are based on the French doctrine of Roger and the Petraeus doctrine. These doctrines may have served the presence of the American troops and helped avoid clashes with the insurgents. The occupation ended with a withdrawal pact to redraw the contours of politics and power in Iraq, which is to say redraw the Iraqi military doctrine since military doctrine is linked to politics…. when your human resources are being consumed in internal wars without paying attention to external threats and training forces to confront them, what military science allows this? Which national will and national doctrine - we have heard these terms often in the media - allow you to ignore the external threat or enemy and create an internal one? This is a disaster…
Source: Yahya al-Kubaisi. “Implications of the flight of Iraqi forces from Tikrit and Mosul,” al-Jazeera (ma wara’ al-khabar, transcript), 12 June 2014.
In Iraq we always said that we had a foundational crisis in the Iraqi armed forces. This means first that there is no joint doctrine for Iraqi security forces. Iraqi security forces were built by the Americans with the main goal, initially, of protecting American forces. This subsequently turned into protecting the authorities in Baghdad…
Source: “Al-Maliki: The Iraqi Army has become committed to national principles, to protecting the country and its citizens, and to bravely fight terrorism,” al-Mada, 6 January 2014.
According to al-Maliki, “The history of our army is filled with sacrifice, struggle and loyalty to the nation. It has been nothing other than an army for the people, committed to its operations and duties.” He added that “the army did not shy away from these operations and duties other than when the now-buried Baath Party transformed it into a closed, partisan, politicized institution….”