Iraqi Army celebrates 102nd anniversary: status, needs, and wishes

Iraqi Army celebrates 102nd anniversary: status, needs, and wishes

Shafaq News / The Iraqi armed forces marked their 102nd anniversary last week while embarking on a relatively calm chapter of its tumultuous history. Nevertheless, the military faces the thorny task of safeguarding the country scarred by conflicts amid multiple challenges, including keeping the continuous threat from armed groups at bay.

Initially founded in 1921, the Iraqi armed forces have suffered a series of difficulties and bloody conflicts in recent decades, such as the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the Gulf War the following year, disbandment in 2003 following the US-led invasion, and most recently the fight against the ISIS group.

Apart from the core design challenges that remain unaddressed and the capability gaps that persist, experts believe that the Iraqi Army continues to experience maintenance, logistical, and intelligence-gathering challenges.

Major General Yahya Rasul, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces spokesperson, congratulated the military's officers, ranks, and staff members, as well as the Iraqi people, on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the formation of the Iraqi Army. He also emphasized the need to "commemorate the martyrs on this occasion and pray for a speedy recovery for the wounded."

Brigadier General Haider Awwad recalled the details of the explosion that resulted in the amputation of both of his legs during the Fifth Division's operations in Diyala governorate, "I was assigned a duty on June 1st, 2006, two years after I returned to military service, and the formation of the core of the new Iraqi army to fight al-Qaeda militants that at the time threatened families and promoted sectarianism."

He further said, "A clash with members of al-Qaeda took place during the nighttime duties in the Balad Ruz area. My legs were amputated after an explosive device blew up during the mission, and I was subsequently taken for medical attention to the Balad military facility by American Coalition forces. I currently have a 100% impairment rate and am resting in the first Baghdad rehabilitation facility."

For everyone to understand that these martyrs are responsible for the nation's stability, Awwad called on the head of the armed forces to "pay regard to the wounded by providing treatment and suitable housing for them and their families, as well as recognizing them on every occasion." The Iraqi Army, he continued, "has to enhance its capabilities and be equipped with cutting-edge weapons that keep up with the militaries of the world."

Security expert Fadhil Abu Ragheef said, "The current Iraqi Army is defensive, not offensive. It is no longer that brute force that threatens regional and international security. It now possesses high capabilities and has proven its efficiency in gang wars and hit-and-runs, after defeating the most powerful terrorist organization that nearly destroyed the region and the whole world."

Abu Ragheef explained that the history of the Army's armament was as follows: "The English supplied the Iraqi armament with weapons. But after the wars they engaged in, Iraq resorted to Russia. However, following the year 2003, the country began bringing armament from Eastern and Western European countries, as well as the United States."

Waad al-Qaddu, a member of the Parliamentary Security and Defence Committee, called on the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to focus on a set of pivotal and crucial issues, starting with fostering the sense of citizenship among all armed forces, rejecting racism, sectarianism, and other matters that sever the unity of the Iraqi Army.

On the other hand, the Iraqi Army, according to al-Qaddu, needs to be "capable of facing challenges, especially terrorism, and to be armed with advanced weapons, especially regarding technological development, such as thermographic cameras, communications, and transportation devices, as well as drones."

He continues, "The military institution has not been provided with new troops for about ten years, and the request for that was made in the Food Security Law to offer the military institution financial amounts commensurate with the scope of the challenges facing Iraq. Also, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Finance were asked to allocate employment grades to open volunteering for young people and refer the elderly to retirement."

The military institution "was and is still suffering from an administration that used to employ people, in the former regime, based on partisan affiliation. It was dominated by one party and engaged for political purposes away from its functional role, by being a guardian of the homeland and a protector of its borders," according to strategic expert Dr. Ahmed al-Sharifi.

"We currently operate in a democratic system, so we had anticipated the military institution would become independent. However, this goal has not been met, as quotas still apply to security and military institutions, which is a political taming of institutions that stand for protection for the internal and external front."

He continued, "The military institution needs to enhance technical effort and improve combat skills by expanding training and development institutions for fighters. It also needs to improve the command and control system away from partisan quotas, secure a strategy to advance its reality, whether at the level of combat skills or the level of armament capabilities, commensurate with the challenges of the stage."

In addition, al-Sharifi emphasized the importance of "keeping the military institution away from political visions and orientations regarding cooperation with the Global Coalition and the U.S., as the country continues to require international assistance due to a conflict that has been described as a cross-border threat and requires high combat skills that national capabilities lack."

"Moreover, logistical support in the issue of satellites and electronic warfare, can only be achieved through international alliances and cooperation with major countries," he continued, stressing that "the military institution should be ruled by professionals and specialists from its members who believe in military honor and belonging to the homeland away from sub-identities."

Shafaq Live
Shafaq Live
Radio radio icon