A massive – and almost desperate, frankly speaking – attempt to restore combat effectiveness of the armed forces takes place in Iraq, Aljazeera reports on December 11, 2014. The news agency is stating that “Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi’s campaign to purge the country’s security forces of corrupt commanders and ‘ghost soldiers’ should have a positive impact on the performance of Iraqi troops fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), security officials and lawmakers say”. The same open source reports that “Iraq’s security institutions, moulded by the Americans after the 2003 US-led invasion of the country, suffer from inefficiency, a lack of professionalism, and financial and administrative corruption, according to security officials and lawmakers”. This very situation has led to almost disastrous results of the attempts to stop and push back the Islamic State (ISIL) attacks along the past few months. In order to get some positive results, the Iraqi Prime Minister recently “ordered 10 senior military officers into retirement and dismissed another 26, including the general director of intelligence and security and the air force chief of staff”, and also “dismissed two dozen senior interior ministry officials, including the commander of border forces, the commander of the federal police and the commander of Iraq's intelligence department”.
A senor military officers declared that “on paper, the number of soldiers of any battalion is 750 troops, but actually, on the ground, there are no more than 200 soldiers and the rest are either ghost soldiers, deserters or missing”, and that “the battalion or brigade has to have at least two-thirds of its boots on the ground to attack ... but because of the corrupted commanders, the fighting capability of the Iraqi troops was no more than 20 percent”.
According to some senior Iraqi lawmakers, eliminating corrupt or ineffective commanders is one of the “preliminary steps to rebuild a professional army”. The same official sources say that “for sure, [these reforms] have raised the morale of the troops on the fields, and it will be soon reflected on the performance of the troops”.
NATO asked for help
Also on December 11, international media reported that “NATO says it is reviewing a request from the Iraqi government for help building up its military”. The NATO Secretary General declared, speaking to “regional partners at the NATO and Gulf Security conference in Qatar” that “Iraq has now requested NATO support in defense capacity building”.
In the meantime, ISIL seems to be capable to launch attacks not far away from Baghdad. On December 10, for example, “a suicide attack outside a military base in Samarra, north of Baghdad, killed nine people and wounded 15 others Wednesday [December 10], security officials said. Iraqi soldiers were among the dead and wounded, according to the officials, who blamed the truck bombing on ISIS”, CNN reports.
Most probably, at least partially eliminating corruption and lack of effectiveness from the armed forces, plus some serious military know-how transfer operated by NATO might significantly improve the combat worthiness of the Iraqi military forces. But it is clear that any really major results need time to take shape; a lot of time. And it is also very easy to understand that ISIL is not going to patiently wait the moment when the Iraqi military will become again really combat effective.
 Suadad al-SALHY, “How Iraq's 'ghost soldiers' helped ISIL”, Al Jazeera, last updated on December 11, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/12/how-iraq-ghost-soldiers-helped-isil-2014121072749979252.html
 “NATO Reviewing Baghdad's Request For Help Build Up Iraqi Military”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, December 11, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.rferl.org/content/nato-iraq-military-support/26737935.html
 Ed PAYNE, “Suicide attack on Iraqi military base kills 9”, CNN, December 10, 2014, at the Internet address http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/10/world/meast/iraq-violence/index.html?hpt=wo_c2