Iraq’s Evolving Role

While Iraq continues to struggle with internal threats, its security relationship with the United States has evolved since the end of Operation New Dawn in December 2011. Today, the only presence of US troops in the country is via the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, which coordinates military ties and exchanges as well as foreign military sales. In addition to building up its security forces, the United States has also worked with the Iraqi government to bolster its military investment in assets geared more for external defense. The Iraqis are acquiring F-16s and on Aug. 5, the Pentagon announced a proposed package of short- and medium-range missiles, radars, and infrastructure associated with a revamped integrated air defense system, worth some $2.4 billion. “As the security environment evolves, we are adapting to it, and we want to ensure that [OSC-I] matures,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Central Command’s deputy director of operations, during an Aug. 6 interview. He said CENTCOM wants to give the Iraqis opportunities and training that can “broaden the aperture” so that they can not only support internal security, but also integrate into activities with the Gulf Cooperation Council and other countries. (For more coverage of Harrigian’s interview, read Access and Denial in the Arabian Gulf and Rebalancing Engagement in CENTCOM’s Area.)