Required Reading

In the absence of American airpower, how will the Iraqi Army fare against IS/Caliphate forces? So far, not very well. War on the Rocks has the underreported story of the collapse of 2nd Division:


he 2nd Division of the Iraqi army bears primary responsibility for military operations against ISIL in Nineveh province. It shares security duties under Nineveh Province Operations Command with the paramilitary 3rd Division of the National Police, which falls under the Interior Ministry. In late 2013 and early 2014, as ISIL launched major offensives in Anbar and declared an Islamic government in Fallujah, Mosul suffered a significant increase in violence. Gunmen, ambushes, and suicide attacks aimed at security personnel in Mosul were a frequent problem, although soldiers did not describe intense or territorially-oriented contestation from ISIL as had occurred in Anbar. On June 6 and 7, car bombings and firefights precipitated an increase in deaths in southern and eastern areas of Mosul. Following that, forces under Nineveh Province Operations Command retreated in disarray, with many soldiers reporting their positions collapsed without a shot fired. They left behind weapons, vehicles, uniforms, and no government opposition to ISIL within Mosul itself.

If there’s good news here, it’s that the Caliphate’s “army” doesn’t seem to be much more than a mob of gunmen and terrorists. The bad news is that the Iraqi Army has, so far, been unable to withstand even a mob.


The broader problem is summed up with this graf from earlier in report:

The Iraqi military’s inability to hold Mosul and its other setbacks across northern Iraq do not simply reflect their adversaries’ increasing strength, but also the culmination of systemic maladies within the structure of the Iraqi military itself. High levels of ISF corruption, alongside Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s manipulation and politicization of the military, undermined combat effectiveness and created a welcoming environment for ISIL to walk into these territories instead of fighting their way through. The nature of these impediments will constrain Baghdad’s short-term options for confronting ISIL and shape the long-term options for a military response.

Read the whole thing.


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