Rebuilding Iraq: Preliminary Observations on Challenges in Transferring Security Responsibilities to Iraqi Military and Police: GAO-05-431T

Christoff, Joseph A.
March 2005
GAO Reports;3/14/2005, p1
Government Document
Since fall 2003, MNF-I has developed and refined a plan to transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqi military and police forces.1 The plan's objective was to allow a gradual drawdown of coalition forces first in conjunction with the neutralization of Iraq's insurgency and second with the development of Iraqi forces capable of securing their country. In summer 2004, MNF-I developed and began implementing a comprehensive campaign plan with this transition concept. The campaign plan is classified. As of March 2005, the Commander, U.S. Central Command, stated that Iraqi security forces were growing in capability but were not ready to take on the insurgency without the presence, help, mentoring, and assistance of MNF-I. U.S. government data do not provide reliable information on the status of Iraqi military and police forces. The goal of the multinational force is to train and equip about 271,000 Iraqi security forces by July 2006. As of late February 2005, the State Department reported that about 82,000 police forces under the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and almost 60,000 military forces under the Iraqi Ministry of Defense have been trained and equipped. However, the reported number of Iraqi police is unreliable because the Ministry of Interior does not receive consistent and accurate reporting from the police forces around the country. The data also include police absent from duty. Further, State no longer reports on the extent to which Iraqi security forces have their required weapons, vehicles, communication equipment, and body armor. The insurgency in Iraq has intensified since June 2003, making it difficult to transfer security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. According to Department of Defense officials and documents, the insurgency has grown in intensity and sophistication. Attacks against the coalition and its Iraqi forces have increased in number over time, with the highest peaks of attacks occurring in August and November 2004 and in January 2005. At the same time, MNF-I faces four challenges in building an Iraqi security force capable of combating the insurgency. First, the Iraqi force structure for the military and police is changing with the creation of new units by MNF-I and the Iraqi ministries. This makes it difficult to provide effective support-the training, equipment, and sustaining of Iraqi forces. Second, MNF-I is still developing a system to assess the readiness of Iraqi military and police forces so they can identify weaknesses and provide them with effective support. Third, developing strong Iraqi leadership and ensuring the loyalty of all personnel throughout the chain of command has proven difficult. Fourth, MNF-I and the Iraqi ministries find it difficult to train a national police force that abides by the rule of law while operating in a hostile environment. MNF-I is aware of these challenges and is working to address them. For example, MNF-I is developing a system to measure the readiness of the Page 3 GAO-05-431T Iraqi military and police and is moving to expand a system of embedded U.S. trainers to help develop strong Iraqi leadership.


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