Building an Iraqi National Guard

  • Lieutenant Colonel Jerad Harper

The formation of an Iraqi National Guard offers significant opportunity for improving Iraq’s short and long-term security capabilities and presents a potential reconciliation tool for improving relations with Iraq’s Sunni minority. Three case studies -- the use of tribal levies in Oman, the Saudi Arabian National Guard, and the U.S. Army National Guard -- provide important examples to inform the development of an effective and professional force. Building the Iraqi National Guard into a competent and professional force will require 1) the commitment of U.S. or western advisors over a long period, 2) a sustained commitment of resources, and 3) significant efforts to synchronize operations between the future Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Finally, while this is a positive measure, it must be accompanied by other reconciliation efforts to address the needs of the Sunni minority. Absent these measures, attempts to create an Iraqi National Guard force could be arming participants in a future Iraqi Civil War.