Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq

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"The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq—as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style—so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents—to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal." --James Fallows, The Atlantic, December 2005.

The Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), U.S. Central Command, is "responsible for assisting the Iraqi government to train, mentor, and equip its armed forces and police forces." [1]

MNSTC-I is a Department of Defense (DoD) operation reporting through Multi-National Force-Iraq to Central Command. Along with DoD, the Department of State and other US agencies provide support, training police and other security forces. The three main sections of MNSTC-I consist of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT), the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT), and the Joint Headquarters Advisory Support Team (JHQ)." [2]

"The MNSTC-I mission is to 'Organize, train, equip, and mentor Iraqi security forces, in order to support Iraq’s ultimate goal of a unified, stable and democratic Iraq, which provides a representative government for the Iraqi people; is underpinned by new and protected freedoms for all Iraqis and a growing market economy; and is able to defend itself and not pose a threat to the region.'" [3]

The Iraqi Armed Forces were "considered a cornerstone of Pentagon plans to turn over security duties in Iraq from U.S. forces to Iraqis." [4]

The "new Iraqi army" was reported as having commenced on July 15, 2003. [5]

"... the US administration begins building the new Iraqi Army, starting with the 1st Brigade of 5,000 armed men who will serve under Iraqi officers. Conscription of 40,000 men is targeted by the end of this year, roughly one tenth of the size of Saddam Hussein's armed forces at the outset of the war in March 2003." Also see Jim Krane's June 23, 2003, Associated Press article "U.S. announces creation of new Iraq army."


  • LTG Martin E. Dempsey (US), Commanding General
  • Brigadier Jeremy Robbins (UK), Deputy Commanding General
  • Brigadier Cris Anstey (Aus), JHQ Commanding General
  • BG Daniel P. Bolger (US), CMATT Commanding General
  • MB Joseph F. Peterson (US), CPATT Commanding General
  • BG Per Pugholm Olsen, CMATT Deputy Commanding General
  • SgtMaj Ralph G. White (US), USMC Sergeant Major
  • Also see MNSTC-I Groups.



MNSTC-I Troops

April 2004: Iraqi security forces collapse

According to Department of Defense officials in April 2004, troop strenghth was reported to number about 208,000 Iraqis who were then "on duty or being trained for these units." DoD officials also reported that the April 2004 Shiite Muslim uprising in Iraq had resulted in Iraqi security forces either refusing to fight or collapsing under attack by the insurgents. [10]

Following U.S. "handover" of "sovereignty"

Following the projected June 30, 2004, U.S. "handover" of sovereignty to the Iraqis, the "Iraqi security forces, built up with much fanfare over the past year, will still be under the control of US generals, who are expected to retain more than 100,000 troops in the country for an undetermined period." Boston Globe, April 14, 2004.

See Iraqi sovereignty: June 30, 2004 for details on the projected "handover".

The Real "Iraqi security forces"

The April 28, 2004, "Rumsfeld's Police Secret" by David Corn and Kristin V. Jones for The Nation points out that the true size--and abilities--of "Iraqi security forces" falls far short of expectations.

"Over the past year, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has painted a different picture - of swift and steady progress in building an effective Iraqi security force that could soon take over many security responsibilities. In fact, there hasn't been a single month in the past year that Rumsfeld hasn't pointed to the success of a rapidly developing Iraqi security force as an indicator of the headway the United States has made in Iraq. Let's roll the videotape.
  • May 20, 2003: 4,500 police on duty in Baghdad
  • Jun. 27, 2003: "The Iraqi police force is being developed. The Iraqi army is being re-recruited."
  • July 24, 2003: "30,000 Iraqi police have been hired. An Iraqi civil defense corps is being formed."
  • August 21, 2003 (Gen. John P. Abizaid said that "More than 50,000 Iraqis already under arms... 35,000 people ... in the police forces ... border force that's forming .... [over 2,300] Iraqi defense corps volunteers... This is in three and a half months...the 50,000 or 60,000 Iraqis that have been pulled together."
  • September 26, 2003: "Within three months ... a new Iraqi Army and within two months a new Iraqi police force was conducting joint patrols with coalition forces."
  • October 21, 2003: "... the coalition has trained some 85,000 Iraqi forces in just over five months: 55,000 police, 6,500 border guards, 18,700 are serving in the facilities protection service, a 700-man battalion in the new Iraqi Army, and 4,700 in the new Iraqi civil defense corps. And there are an additional 10,000, above the 85,000, that are currently in training for these various Iraqi security forces."
  • November 6, 2003: "... some 118,000 Iraqi security forces of various types."
  • December 6, 2003: "Something in excess of 140,000 Iraqis...are engaged in providing security..."
  • January 6, 2004: "... something in excess of 160,000 [Iraqis], ... the largest component of the total coalition of Iraqi security forces in Iraq."
  • February 10, 2004: "... somewhere between 150,000 and 210,000 Iraqis now performing one type of security activity or another."
  • March 15, 2004: "... 200,000 Iraqi security forces that are out there providing security ... They're taking over responsibility for their country."
  • April 8, 2004 (asked why Iraqi security forces have not been seen on the front lines): "Well, they've lost over 250 people killed in action, so the suggestion that they're not out providing security for the country of Iraq would be a misunderstanding of the situation."

More Manpower "Statistics"

  • January 6, 2004: "Coalition aims to produce a 40,000 strong 27-battalion Iraqi army by the end of 2004." [11]
  • February 14, 2004: "The police force has neared its planned goal of 71,000 members. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, in charge of internal security, has about 21,000 members and is planned to reach 92,000. The army is recruiting a force of 40,000 soldiers." [12]
  • June 27, 2004: "Although about 200,000 Iraqi men and a few women have been put into military or police uniform under the occupation, U.S. officials admit that they are inadequately trained and poorly led." [13]
  • July 8, 2004: "The [Iraqi] army ultimately will have 27 battalions, nine brigades and three divisions." [14]
  • October 20, 2004: President George W. Bush said during the September 30, 2004, "presidential debate that there are already 100,000 Iraqis trained to 'make Iraq safe and secure.' In the Oct. 13 debate, the president said by the end of the year there would be 125,000 Iraqis trained to provide security. But others have labeled these numbers an exaggeration. ... About 40,000 of the 100,000 trained security personnel President Bush referred to comprise the Iraqi National Guard, which plays primarily a support role to coalition forces. ... fewer than 40,000 of the 85,000 Iraqi police formally in uniform (there are 30,000 more on the books) have received any training at all by coalition trainers. ... [specialized police units] remain very few in number — fewer than 200 people trained or in training, although 5,000 are planned for these forces. ... border patrol troops. About 15,000 of the nearly 17,000 personnel on hand for this force were deemed trained as of mid-September. ... All of the 21,000 personnel of the Iraqi army, prevention force, special operations force, air force and coastal defense force have been trained." [15]
  • January 26, 2005: Army General George W. Casey, Jr., the "top U.S. commander in Iraq," said that "U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces were still not ready to take over the counterinsurgency and that there was no guarantee that they would ever be able to defeat militant guerrillas on their own. ... the 130,000 Iraqi police and soldiers still lacked leaders to direct them in a fight against rebels and that local police who had deserted in the thousands remained a key weak point." [16]
  • January 31, 2005: "some 125,000 trained security and military personnel as of Jan. 19, according to U.S. government figures, about 46 percent of its goal of 271,000. The figures include police and Iraqi National Guard as well as army, navy, air force and special operations and rapid-response units. ... Six months ago, Iraqi security forces were in roughly the same place - 87,000 personnel amounted to about 45 percent of U.S. goals at a time when planners were seeking a smaller force. U.S. government projections, posted weekly on the Internet, said the Iraqi security forces would be completely trained and equipped by spring 2005." [17]
  • "In January 2005 all Iraqi National Guard units in Iraq were absorbed into the sovereign nation's new army." [18]
  • February 25, 2005: "about 60,000 soldiers. Officials said more than 25 per cent of them have been regarded as combat-ready." [19]
  • March 8, 2005: "more than 140,000 trained and equipped Iraqi troops and more than 90 operational combat battalions engaged across Iraq, both with coalition forces and, in some cases, independently." [20]
  • Battalions consist of two or more company-sized units and a headquarters. A company consists of two or more platoons, "usually of the same type, a headquarters, and, in some cases, a limited self-support capability. Companies are the basic elements of all battalions." [21]
  • March 29, 2005: "Over the past 18 months, Washington's estimate of the number of trained Iraqi security forces has gyrated up and down as if it were a stock market index. ... Last spring, for instance, the Defense Department's number for Iraqi police and military personnel plunged from 206,000 to 132,000. In September, the number was revised downward again - to 90,000." [22]
  • April 11, 2005: "The total number of operational combat battalions is now 80, which includes the units incorporated from the intervention force and the National Guard. ... The Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 trained and equipped police officers, up from 26,000 last Summer. Of the nearly 29,000 police officers who have been trained since then, over 12,000 were former police who underwent three-week transition course training and over 16,000 were new recruits who underwent eight-week basic training. More than 35,000 additional police are on duty and scheduled for training." [23]
  • May 30, 2005: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force General Richard Myers said "We've got about 100 Iraqi force battalions that are equipped and trained ... About 25 percent of them can do independent operations or operations with little help from coalition forces, but every week that number changes and goes up.'" [24]
  • June 2005: "... by mid-2005 the overall growth in Iraqi forces had slowed, no doubt at least in part reflecting the ferocity of insurgent attacks against Iraqi Security Forces. End-strength growth from April through June was negligible, 162,000 on 04 May 2005 to 168,000 by 22 June 2005. Indeed, endstrength declined slightly in June, dropping from 169,362 on 08 June 2005." [25]
  • October 11, 2005: "... the number of men and women serving in uniform [stretched] past 200,000. Currently the Iraqi Ministry of Interior has 106,112 personnel serving as part of security forces. The Ministry of Defense has 93,959 service members in the military. ... more than 60,000 additional Iraqi security forces available than there were for the highly-successful January election held earlier this year. Since the effort to rebuild the country’s forces began about 15 months ago, more than 115 special police and army combat battalions have been formed as well as regular police, border enforcement and highway patrol for the Ministry of Interior and motor transport regiments, Navy, Air Forces and numerous training organizations for the Ministry of Defense." [26]
  • November 20, 2005: Rumsfeld said: "The U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in training Iraqi security forces, [placing] their number at 212,000[, disputing] reports that fewer than 1,000 Iraqis were capable of fighting the insurgency without coalition assistance." Rumsfeld called "the lower number 'a red herring'" and said "it does not reflect the involvement of Iraqis in securing their country."
  • February 24, 2006: According to CNN: "Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded. No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support."

Do the Math

"All those months Rumsfeld was cooking the books. In late March [2004] the Pentagon released a chart summarizing the numbers of Iraqi security force troops. It tells a different story from the one peddled by Rumsfeld. The summary notes that 75,844 Iraqis were on the payroll as police officers, but only 2,865 were fully qualified and on duty. Another 13,286 were deemed 'partially qualified' and supposedly on duty, while 3,245 were in training. Three-fourths of those on the police payroll had received no training. Six months earlier Rumsfeld had declared that 55,000 police had been trained. Not even close. (Despite the small size of the new Iraqi police force, it has been a primary target of the insurgents, who recently mounted attacks on police stations in Basra that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians. And Iraqi police elsewhere have been killed in assaults.)

"The Pentagon summary also shows that Rumsfeld had been stretching the truth about other security forces. It notes that the new Iraqi Border Police needed 8,835 officers, but this force had not one fully trained officer on duty. It did have 8,601 partially qualified police and 179 in training. The Department of Border Enforcement required 16,892 troops; it had 9,873 partially qualified troops, no fully qualified people and none in training. Of the 40,000 troops needed for the Iraqi Armed Forces, only 3,249 had been fully trained and deployed. A mere 2,400 were in training. The Pentagon summary does note that the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps had 34,683 members who were receiving on-the-job training. (A Civil Defense Corps group in Falluja vanished during recent fighting there.) And it reports that the security service designed to protect government facilities and Iraqi infrastructure had a force of 73,992.

"All told, the Pentagon summary maintains, there were 208,821 Iraqis in the various security services. But counting only those fully trained and on duty, the total was 114,789. And 95 percent of that force comprised security guards and civil defense members - not the front-line forces. Add up the active and fully trained Iraqi police, border personnel and military forces, and the number of Iraq security troops is 6,114. Throw in those partially trained, and the total goes up to 37,874. The Iraqi security forces hardly could boast over 200,000 troops 'providing security,' as Rumsfeld claimed in March." [27]


At an April 20, 2004, Pentagon news briefing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, a "U.S. Army general who recently returned from a long stint in Iraq has been sent back to improve the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces." It was Rumsfeld's "'guess' that Petraeus would remain in charge of training and equipping the Iraqi security forces after the planned June 30 resumption of self-governance in Iraq." [28]

"In testimony before the Senate and the House Armed Services committees ... Myers focused for the first time on a dilemma the occupation authority created by pushing creation of a 40,000-member Iraqi army, without realizing that it should not be used for meeting the security problem. 'We don't want to go back to the old ways of the Iraqi army where they were used for internal security and some of the atrocities,' Myers said. [29]

"In May [2004], L. Paul Bremer III, the civil administrator of Iraq, demobilized the old army, raising a storm of protest from the 400,000 soldiers put out of work.

"The troops were encouraged to apply for the new army, although senior officers were banned. Training was conducted by a private American military contractor, Vinnell Corporation. In October [2004], the new battalion had a passing out parade, accompanied by a US military band, at which they were hailed as the core of a new security force for Iraq."

December 11, 2003, CNN reported that the Coalition Provisional Authority said that nearly half of the new post-Saddam Iraqi army had quit. About 300 of 700 members cited "unhappiness with terms, conditions and pay and with instructions of commanding officers." [30]

Following a November 2003 letter sent to President Bush from Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana) "about the 'need to speed up the process by which Iraqis assume greater responsibility' for security as the coalition prepares to cede power back to Iraqis in July," Rumsfeld said "the Pentagon and the Coalition Provisional Authority were discussing recalling some units of the former Iraqi army." [31]

Iraqi Armed Forces: CPA: Guidelines

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