Sep 20, 2018
The Iraqi Army's collapse in summer 2014 has been widely attributed to a lack of will to fight. In this report, Ben Connable applies RAND's analytic model of will to fight to the regular Iraqi Army, identifying factors that contribute to or undermine Iraqi Army will to fight and providing recommendations for the U.S. security force assistance mission in Iraq.
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In summer 2014, less than three years after the United States withdrew its military forces from Iraq, the Iraqi Army imploded, breaking and scattering in the face of attacks from Islamic State fighters. A consensus emerged that the Iraqi Army collapsed because it had no will to fight. But why did the Iraqi Army lack will to fight? And, going forward, what can U.S. advisors do to help strengthen Iraqi Army will to fight and overall combat effectiveness?
In this report, Ben Connable applies RAND's analytic model of will to fight to the regular Iraqi Army, conducting three historical case studies: the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2004–2011 military advisory period. A main finding is that the Iraqi Army units tend to be brittle: They are capable of fighting effectively, but they are inflexible and break too easily. There is no single-factor explanation for this brittleness. Efforts to change it will need to focus on numerous underlying factors, and Connable provides specific recommendations for the U.S. security force assistance mission in Iraq.
This report also serves an example of how the RAND will-to-fight model, detailed in Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units (Connable et al., 2018), can be tailored to specific cases and improved upon.
Will to Fight and Security Force Assistance in Iraq
Iraq's Army: History and Culture
Iraqi Army Will to Fight in the Iran-Iraq War — Part I
Iraqi Army Will to Fight in the 1991 Persian Gulf War
Iraqi Army Will to Fight in the Advisory Period: 2004–2011
Using This Assessment to Help Improve the Iraqi Army