New CSIS Report Forecasts Dissolution of Iraq Security Forces, Signals Necessary Reforms

Maliki with U.S. MilitaryOn Friday June 12th, the Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report, Shaping Iraq’s Security Forces which sheds light on the current state of Iraqi Security Forces and the observable decline since 2011. In light of recent events involving militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), this report supports the stance that “Iraq lacked the internal incentives – and checks and balances – necessary to make them function once US advisors were gone”. 

The report cites the US military’s unrealistic force-building timeline and the lack of a “command culture that supported initiative and decision-making at junior levels,” as reasons for the collapse of integrity within the Iraqi security forces. A lack of competent government from Prime Minister Maliki, and his undermining the army, the police force, and justice the system for personal advantage add to the disillusionment of many competent volunteers. 

In a salient discussion point, the author states, “Iraq desperately needs a truly national leader and one who puts the nation above himself. Without one, ISIS may become a lasting enclave and regional threat — dividing Iraq into Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish sections — or drag Iraq back to the worst days of its civil war and create another Syria-type conflict in the region.” 

The report will be presented at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies conference on Arab-U.S. Relations in Doha in June, 2014. Comments and suggestions may be sent to the author at 


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