US Aims to Build Smaller New Iraqi ‘Vanguard’ Force to Fight ISIS

Not Going to Try to Rebuild Entire Iraqi Army

The massive Iraqi Army was routed by ISIS in the summer, and shrank precipitously, as the divisions based in Mosul basically vanished, through defections or executions, and their equipment almost entirely ended up in ISIS hands.

What’s left of the military is a train wreck, corrupt and with crumbling morale. The Iraqi government was looking to the US to remake the Iraqi Army for the second time in a decade, but the US is looking to defer that daunting task, at least for awhile.

Instead, officials say the US is looking to create an entirely separate light infantry “vanguard force” for the time being, figuring they can cobble together these new brigades first and then use them as a model for a “leaner, meaner Iraqi Army.”

The biggest problem looming over this yet-to-be-created force, estimated to have 45,000 troops, is that it will be too small and too lightly armed to retake Mosul, meaning that project for the US war remains something that will likely involve US or other foreign ground troops.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of