Officials have bragged about how important Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) were in the Mosul battle. The US-trained elite forces lost roughly 40% of their manpower in nine months of fighting, which has the US and Iraq looking to restore the group after those huge losses.
It’s not so easy for Iraq to find qualifying candidates, however. An online recruiting drive scored them 300,000 applicants, but only about 3,000 got beyond the initial preliminary screening, and less than 1,000 of those getting to the point where they’re likely to even be accepted into the academy.
The CTS numbers about 10,000, officially, but between the huge losses sustained in Mosul and the Pentagon’s plans to grow the group to 20,000 within the next year, they’re going to need a lot more people who can get accepted into the training than that.
Much of this problem centers on the Shi’ite government’s desperation to ensure that the CTS is loyal, which is likely excluding vast swathes of the Iraqi population, who are members of tribes or religious factions that aren’t seen as sufficiently loyal.