Iraq Military - 2023


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Ministry of Defense: Iraqi Army, Army Aviation Command, Iraqi Navy, Iraqi Air Force, Iraqi Air Defense Command, Special Forces Command, Special Security Division (Green Zone protection)

National-Level Security Forces: Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS; reports to the Prime Minister), Prime Minister's Special Forces Division, Presidential Brigades

Ministry of Interior: Federal Police Forces Command, Border Guard Forces Command, Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency, Emergency Response Division, Facilities Protection Directorate, and Provincial Police

Ministry of Oil: Energy Police Directorate

Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC): Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Tribal Mobilization Forces (TMF); the PMF and TMF are a collection of approximately 60 militias of widely varied sizes and political interests

the two main Kurdish political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), each maintain an independent security apparatus; the federal constitution provides the Kurdistan Regional Government the right to maintain internal security forces, but the KDP and the PUK separately controlled additional Peshmerga military units, as well as separate police forces under nominal Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior control; the constitution also allows for a centralized, separate internal security/intelligence (Asayish) service; however, the KDP and PUK also each maintain Asayish forces

Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Peshmerga: Regional Guard Brigades; Unit (or Division) 70 Forces and Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) of the PUK; Unit (or Division) 80 Forces and Counterterrorism Directorate (CTD) of the KDP; Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior: internal security forces include the Zeravani (KDP) and Emergency Response Forces (PUK) (2023)

Military expenditures

3.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

4.1% of GDP (2020 est.)

3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

4.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

6% of GDP (2017 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 200,000 personnel under the Ministry of Defense (190,000 Army/Aviation Command/Special Forces; 5,000 Navy; 5,000 Air/Air Defense Forces); approximately 25,000 National-Level Security Forces; Ministry of Peshmerga: approximately 150,000-plus (45-50,000 Regional Guard Brigades; 40-45,000 Unit 70 Forces; 65-70,000 Unit 80 Forces); estimated 100-160,000 Popular Mobilization Forces (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Iraqi military's inventory includes a mix of equipment from a wide variety of sources, including Europe, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, and the US; in recent years, Russia and the US have been the leading suppliers of military hardware to Iraq (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-40 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2022)

note: service in the armed forces was mandatory in Iraq from 1935 up until 2003

Military - note

Iraqi security forces (ISF), including conventional air and ground forces, are primarily focused on internal security duties; they are actively conducting counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) terrorist group, particularly in northern and western Iraq; the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), a highly regarded force comprised of three special forces brigades, is the ISF's principal operational unit against ISIS

Kurdish Security Forces (KSF, aka Peshmerga) also conducted operations against ISIS; the KSF were formally recognized as a legitimate Iraqi military force under the country’s constitution and have operated jointly with the Iraqi military against ISIS militants, but they also operate outside of Iraqi military command structure; since 2021, the ISF and the KSF have conducted joint counter-ISIS operations in an area known as the Kurdish Coordination Line (KCL), a swath of disputed territory in northern Iraq claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central Iraqi Government; the KSF/Peshmerga report to the Kurdistan Regional Government or Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan parties instead of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense

Popular Mobilization Commission and Affiliated Forces (PMF or PMC), also known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, or al-Hashd al-Sha’abi in Arabic), tribal militia units have fought alongside the Iraqi military against ISIS since 2014, but the majority of these forces continue to largely ignore the 2016 Law of the Popular Mobilization Authority, which mandated that armed militias must be regulated in a fashion similar to Iraq’s other security forces and act under the Iraqi Government’s direct control; the Iraqi Government funds the PMF, and the prime minister legally commands it, but many of the militia units take orders from associated political parties and/or other government officials, including some with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and some that have been designated as terrorist organizations by the US; the PMF/PMU is an umbrella organization comprised of many different militias, the majority of which are Shia:

--Shia militias backed by Iran; they are considered the most active and capable, and include such groups as the Badr Organization (Saraya al-Sala), Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Kataib Hizballah

--Shia militias affiliated with Shia political parties, but not aligned with Iran, such as the Peace Brigades (Saray al-Salam)

--Shia militias not connected with political parties, but affiliated with the Najaf-based Grand Ayatollah Ali al-SISTANI (Iraq’s supreme Shia cleric), such as the Hawza militias

--other PMF/PMU militias include Sunni Tribal Mobilization militias, or Hashd al-Asha’iri; some of these militias take orders from the ISF and local authorities while others respond to orders from the larger Shia PMU militias; still other militias include Yazidi and Christian militias and the Turkmen brigades; the links of these forces to the PMU is not always clear-cut and may be loosely based on financial, legal, or political incentives

at the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to establish an advisory, training and capacity-building mission for the Iraqi military in October 2018; as of 2022, the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) had about 500 troops; in December 2021, the task force that leads the defeat ISIS mission in Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), transitioned from a combat role to an advise, assist, and enable role (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Iraq on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iraq 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iraq 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.