Rebuilding the Iraqi Army

  • Colonel William T. Nuckols Jr.

The Iraqi Army built by the United States from 2004 to 2012, at a cost of billions of dollars and thousands of service members lives’ lost, has disintegrated under the onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS controls much of western Iraq, including its second largest city, Mosul. The Government of Iraq, with assistance from the U.S. and other allies, must build a small and professional Army. To re-establish a resilient and effective organization, the Iraqi Army (IA) must be massively reorganized and trained with an understanding that the effort will take years of persistent U.S. and allied presence. This has been proven to be effective in Columbia. The new IA will require long term U.S. (or NATO) advisors, to live with and train their Iraqi counterparts. Finally, the IA must be professionalized, with greater focus on selfless service and loyalty to the constitutionally appointed and elected leaders of Iraq. This will require a change in culture, which will include a level of accountability and discipline that has been generally absent from many of the members of the IA. This approach will also require a long term commitment from the United States, both in terms of military personnel and money.