Shaping Iraq’s Security Forces

Two years after the withdrawal of all US military forces from Iraq, the Iraqi military is facing major challenges as it seeks to confront a resurgence of Islamist violence. The failure to maintain any residual US force in the country to train and support Iraqi counterterrorism operations has placed heavy constraints on the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces and on US policy options for confronting terrorism spilling into Iraq as a result of the deepening crisis in Syria. The development of the Iraqi Security Forces has proceeded haltingly, and as a result Iraqi military and police units are ill-equipped to confront the non-state threats currently operating inside Iraq.

The Burke Chair has developed a comprehensive update of its assessment of the ISF called Shaping Iraq’s Security Forces which is available on the CSIS web site at

This new report provides a comprehensive assessment of the current capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces, including all branches of the armed forces as well as national police and counterterrorism units. It serves to provide an update to the Burke Chair’s previous report, Withdrawal From Iraq: Assessing the Readiness of Iraqi Security Forces, to include the steps taken to develop Iraqi security capabilities since 2011. It includes all major arms purchases by Iraq from the United States under Foreign Military Sales authority, as well as the limited International Military Engagement and Training programs being conducted with Iraqi personnel. It also assesses the uncertain future of the Iraqi efforts to combat terrorism and insurgency, and the limited options for the United States to try to support those efforts.

For other recent Burke Chair publications include:

Iran and The Gulf Military Balance II: The Nuclear and Missile Dimensions

Changing US Security Strategy

For all Burke Chair reports and analyses, visit:


Anthony H. Cordesman

Anthony H. Cordesman

Former Emeritus Chair in Strategy

Sam Khazai and Daniel Dewit