Iraqi Police

Soldier with machine gun in front of group of uniformed soldiers
Iraqi Police in training
Soldiers target-shooting with handguns
Iraqi police officers training with Glock 19 pistols at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul

The Iraqi Police (IP) is the uniformed police force responsible for the enforcement of civil law in Iraq. Its organisation, structure and recruitment were guided by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and it is commanded by the reformed Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. "IP" refers to the Iraqi Police, and "ISF" to the broader Iraqi security forces.[1] The current commander of the Federal Police Forces is Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat.


The current Iraqi Police has some links with the pre-war Iraqi police service. The prewar police service was low in repression priority and was professional. Therefore, the police was expected to remain cohesive and be a useful instrument also after the invasion.[2]

It was intended to form the basis for the police force of the new Iraq, but the civil disorder caused this project to be abandoned.[3] Following the emergency stipend payment, some police came back especially in Baghdad and the U.S. Army military police conducted emergency training.[3] At the same time, in the south the British forces began to establish local police forces in coordination with Shiite religious leaders.[3]

In the north, Kurdish security forces did not experience any interruption, and in Mosul a thousand former police officers were hired by Major General David Petraeus in order to maintain the public order.[4]

In the meanwhile, provisional authorities worked with the renewed Ministry of Interior in order to epurate Baathist officials (7,000 police officers fired by Bernard Kerik only in Baghdad) and to establish a police forces in short terms.[5] In the first four months, the first training course was launched and over 4,000 officers were trained.[4] In 2003 recruitment, applicants were mostly former soldiers and police officers who served under the Baathist rule. At the end of 2003, Iraqi Police formally totalled 50,000 officers.[6]

Organization and oversight

Boat with two motors, a machine gun and four police officers
IP river unit on the Tigris

The Iraqi Police is under the command of Major General Hussein Jassim Alawadi.[7] The Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I) is a U.S. military organisation tasked to train, mentor and equip all Iraqi civilian security forces. MNSTC-I also has the goal of training their counterparts in the Iraqi government of Iraq to assume their role. The Iraqi Police have three main branches:


Soldier steadying another soldier who is firing a rifle
Iraqi Police officer steadied during target practice

The Iraqi Police Service uniform consists of a long-sleeved, light-blue shirt with a blue brassard on the left arm with an embroidered Iraqi flag and "Iraqi Police" embossed in English and Arabic, black or light-blue trousers or blue combat trousers similar to those of the United States Navy. They wear a dark-blue baseball cap with "POLICE" in white letters or body armour and a PASGT helmet.

Federal Police wear a black-and-blue camouflage uniform similar to the U.S. Army Combat Uniform Universal Camouflage Pattern,[9] which includes a baseball cap, body armour and PASGT helmet. FP uniforms are issued when an officer has completed training; officers not yet trained wear a variety of uniforms, including woodland camouflage. FP officers are organised into brigades which cover geographic areas. Rank insignia for the IP is nearly identical to that of the Iraqi Army, except that the shoulder boards are usually dark blue.


Service ranks from highest to lowest, with symbol on epaulette, are:[10]


Police officer with gun in front of a police car
Iraqi Police officers patrol downtown Najaf.

The Iraqi Police has faced a number of problems since it was reformed by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the fall of Baghdad. It became the target of fighters from inside and outside Iraq; thousands of officers have been killed by gunfire and bombings by Iraqi insurgents, foreign terrorists and, in some cases, friendly fire from Coalition troops.[11] An estimated 4,250 Iraqi police officers were killed from January 2005 and 4 March 2006. Due to high[12] unemployment in Iraq, many young Iraqi men have volunteered to join the police forces. A number of recruits have been killed by suicide bombers and suicide car bombs whilst queueing at police stations.[13]

The IP has also been infiltrated[14] by insurgents, who use access to privileged information, training and weapons for their own motives. Many police stations have been attacked,[15] blown up,[16] had weapons stolen from them and have been occupied by opponents of the Iraqi government; as a result, many police officers have abandoned their posts.[17] As of October 7, 2006, 12,000 Iraqi Police deserted and 4,000 were killed.[18]

On 17 August 2016, a market owner shot dead by policeman after a brawl began when the market owner "refused to back his vehicle" in Baghdad.[19]


The Baathist regime began to increase the role of Islam in government during the early 1990s, with required religious education in the schools, honor killings and religious committees to punish those deemed in violation of traditional mores (such as adultery, fornication and homosexuality).

The Iraqi constitution stipulates Islam as the official religion, enacted laws must conform to sharia and provisions for civil rights and liberties are in accordance with public mores. Many members of the Iraqi police and Interior Ministry have ties to the Islamic fundamentalist Badr Brigade, which have been given leeway to punish those suspected of immorality. In Basra, police guarding a local park reportedly made no attempt to stop an armed group from severely beating two women and shooting a male Iraqi friend of theirs to death.[20]

Iraqi government

The Iraqi government has been accused of using (or allowing) the police and other groups to carry out sectarian killings and kidnappings of Sunni Iraqis. In December 2005, US troops found 625 inmates held in "very overcrowded" conditions in a Baghdad Interior Ministry building. Twelve of the prisoners reportedly had signs of torture and malnutrition.[21] The story gave credence to the accusations, sowing further distrust of the police force. A report into the findings at the building was promised by Iraqi president Ibrahim Jaafari at the end of December 2005, but as of 4 May 2006 no report was issued.

The United States Department of State released a 2006 human rights report accusing the Iraqi police of widespread atrocities.[22][23] In October of that year, the Iraqi government dismantled a police brigade with connections to sectarian death squads. The dismantled brigade was transferred to a US base for retraining. Other police brigades will be investigated for links to death squads.


Four young women in blue hijabs, holding brown belts
Iraqi policewomen in 2007

The number of police is difficult to estimate, since local police chiefs may exaggerate their numbers to obtain increased funding for their stations and people drift in and out of service. Although the total Ministry of Interior payroll exceeds 300,000, many are off-duty at any given time. As of mid-2007, the National Police Forces employed about 25,000 officers.[24] The number is somewhat misleading, because one-third to one-half of the NP are on leave at any given time.


Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani announced that as of December 24, 2005, 12,000 police officers in Iraq died in the line of duty since the 2003 US-led invasion.[11][25]

Transition teams

Large-scale operations were conducted by coalition forces to assist in policing and train the Iraqi Police (IP) and security forces. Police transition teams (PTTs) are US military-police squads deployed to Iraqi Police stations. The teams conduct joint patrols with the IP, share station defense and gather station information and counter-terrorism intelligence. The joint patrols of the PTTs have helped curb violence, increasing respect for Iraq's police force. These duties were later performed by United States Air Force Security Forces members. An International Police Liaison Officer (IPLO), an experienced US police officer, accompanied most of the transition teams to aid post-academy training of the IP.

National Police Transition Teams (NPTT) are 11-man military transition teams embedded in Iraqi Police units at the battalion, brigade, division and corps levels. These teams are supplied by the US Army and the US Marine Corps. Like the PTTs, each team is assisted by an IPLO and one to six local interpreters.


Members of the Iraqi Police use the Glock 19 handgun, and may carry a shotgun or AK-47 rifle on patrol. For marine operations, the police are equipped with Safe Boat International 230 T-Top patrol boats.

See also


  1. Iraqi Police Service (IPS)
  2. Bensahel, Nora; Oliker, Olga; Crane, Keith; Brennan, Richard R. Jr.; Gregg, Heather S. (2008). After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Corporation. p. 121. ISBN 9780833044587.
  3. 1 2 3 Bensahel, Nora; Oliker, Olga; Crane, Keith; Brennan, Richard R. Jr.; Gregg, Heather S. (2008). After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Corporation. p. 125. ISBN 9780833044587.
  4. 1 2 Bensahel, Nora; Oliker, Olga; Crane, Keith; Brennan, Richard R. Jr.; Gregg, Heather S. (2008). After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Corporation. p. 126. ISBN 9780833044587.
  5. Bensahel, Nora; Oliker, Olga; Crane, Keith; Brennan, Richard R. Jr.; Gregg, Heather S. (2008). After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Corporation. p. 124. ISBN 9780833044587.
  6. Bensahel, Nora; Oliker, Olga; Crane, Keith; Brennan, Richard R. Jr.; Gregg, Heather S. (2008). After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Corporation. p. 127. ISBN 9780833044587.
  7. "Federal Police Commander". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  8. Iraqi National Police Renamed Federal Police
  9. Majority of Iraqi police trained, equipped | United States Forces - Iraq
  10. "Iraqi Police Service Rank". Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Iraq Coalition Casualty Count". Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  12. "Unemployment High, Future Uncertain in Iraq". ABC News. January 24, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  13. "Bomber hits Iraq army recruits". BBC News. July 20, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  14. "IRAQ: INSURGENTS HAVE INFILTRATED POLICE, SAYS SECURITY ADVISER". Archived from the original on 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  15. "Car bomb hits Iraq police station". BBC News. December 14, 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  16. "Mosque Bombed in Baghdad Attacks". Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  17. Rory McCarthy (December 3, 2004). "Man on a mission". Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  18. "More than 12,000 Iraqi police casualties in 2 years". CNN. October 7, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  20. Catherine Philp (March 23, 2005). "Death at 'immoral' picnic in the park". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  21. "New 'torture jail' found in Iraq". BBC News. December 12, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  22. Brian Knowlton (March 9, 2006). "Iraqi Police Are Tied to Abuses and Deaths, U.S. Review Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  23. "Iraq: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005". U.S. Department of State. March 8, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  24. Jim Randle (October 14, 2007). "Study Finds Iraqi National Police Ineffective in Combating Terrorism". VOA News. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  25. "Iraqi police deaths 'hit 12,000'". BBC News. December 24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
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