• Baghdad

  • Friday, January 5, 2024 at 6:16 AM
    Last Update : Monday, January 15, 2024 at 4:54 AM

Intake of Thousands of Volunteers Casts Doubts Over Iraqi Army Capabilities

(AWP) - In an effort to rejuvenate itself, the Iraqi Armed Forces is accepting applications by thousands of new volunteers, which has prompted controversy regarding the establishment’s ability to impose security and end the ‘militarization’ of Iraqi society.

In late 2023, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence announced an opening for new volunteers in the army, which aims to add 10,000 new members to its ranks to aid in countering terrorism.

The ministry stated that volunteers will have to submit electronic applications via its official website.

"The military leadership is replenishing the army with new, young blood to work towards creating a professional army whose mission is to defend Iraq,” said Yehia Rasool, Spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi armed forces.

“Soldiers of retirement age will be retired. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is building the capabilities of the military and security institutions. That is why many delegations have visited advanced countries with strong militaries to learn more about developments in armaments,” he said.

Rasool stressed that review of new volunteer applications will be done through an "electronic lottery that no one can interfere with".

"No officer or commander in the military institution, from the minister to the lowest or youngest officer, will have interfered in naming a single soldier," he said.

Nonetheless, a former Iraqi army high-ranked officer said that the process will not be independent of political parties, whom he accused of imposing their wills under the pretext of achieving national balance.

"The political parties will not let the Ministry of Defence manage the army alone, and will intervene and impose their followers on this institution, because they are influential people. The heads of the parties are the ones who run the country, and they are the ones who impose their opinion under the pretext of national balance. But it is a sectarian and national balance. Another thing, if we assume that the Iraqi army is comprised of 350,000 members, will 10,000 new members from various diverse sects change the fabric of this whole army? Of course not,” said Jalil Khalaf, a former Iraqi army officer.

Khalaf pointed out the army’s need for a "total revolution in all aspects".

"Armies are measured not only by numbers of personnel, but by the weapons they possess and their technological development. After 2014, serious planning began, by Iraq and by the United States of America, to arm and train the army, which resulted in the great victory achieved by the Iraqi army in the battles of 2017 for the elimination of ISIS, which was not final."