Iraqi Civil Defense Corps

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Introduction

The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) "soldiers are Iraqi citizens who remain in their communities and are integrated into the coalition military units." As of the end of October 2003, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps stood at about 4,700 trained soldiers. In September, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Dundes Wolfowitz said that number would be expanded to about 15,000 by the end of January 2004.[1]

"Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers 'can do things we can't. ... They can communicate with people with the speed that our people can't do working through translators. They can read the local situation (and) the population in ways we can't,' [Wolfowitz] said. 'Iraqis come forward to them with information much more readily than they do with us.'"[2]

"New recruits receive three weeks of intensive combat training. They first learn basic commands in English, the rules of engagement, and how to set up a control point. From there, they practice troop-leading procedures, crowd and riot control, and squad movements. During the final training week, trainees qualify on their AK-47 rifles."[3]

The formation of the ICDC counterterrorism battalion

On December 3, 2003, it was announced that "The U.S. civilian and military leadership in Iraq has decided to form a paramilitary unit composed of militiamen from the country's five largest political parties to identify and pursue insurgents who have eluded American troops and Iraqi police officers, U.S. and Iraqi officials."

Approximately 750 to 850 militiamen will be used "to create a new counterterrorism battalion within the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps that would initially operate in and around Baghdad. ... U.S. Special Forces soldiers would work with the battalion, whose operations would be overseen by the American-led military command here."[4]

"The five parties that will contribute militiamen are Ayad Alawi's Iraqi National Accord, Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, the Shiite Muslim Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and two large Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Kurdish members will be drawn from the ranks of pesh merga fighters who defended autonomous Kurdish areas from former president Saddam Hussein's army, officials said.

"A senior official with the U.S. occupation authority insisted the plan was still 'very fluid.' But a senior U.S. military official said there was agreement in principle among senior American civilian and military leaders in Baghdad to implement the plan. ...

"The parties had wanted the paramilitary force to be significantly larger than a battalion and fully under the control of the country's Interior Minister. American officials rejected those demands, saying they wanted to start with a small group under U.S. control. ...

"Backing for the force has gathered momentum since a Nov. 15 agreement between the Governing Council and U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer that calls for the occupation to end by summer. Top officials of the parties insisted an independent Iraq will need a security force other than the three that already have been established: the police, the civil defense corps and the new army."[5]


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