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Less Publicized Military Units in Iraq

As a Guide to the Perplexed about the security situation in Iraq, I would like to suggest a recent paper by Cecile Zwiebach of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The Confused Security Situation in Iraq: Some Less Publicized Units. One caveat I would make is that while SCIRI's Badr Brigades and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army are mentioned with equal frequency, Sunni allegations of atrocities by the Shi'a militias in recent months have focused on the Mahdi Army, as SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim appears to have reined them in. It is the case, as the article notes, that the Badr Brigades were implicated in death squad activity under the last government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari when they were working out of the interior ministry.

I was gratified to read Zwiebach's reference to the "Facilities Protection Service," because I have seen this term mentioned in the Iraqi media on several occasions but have not seen it in the American media and was wondering if there was an accepted translation (unfortunately, it is often the case with Arabic terms and even living Arab persons that there is no standardized translation or transliteration). Zwiebach's translation seems reasonable; I referred to them as "security personnel... charged with protecting the various establishments" in a July 7 InBrief on Hakim. Note that the numbers of personnel given by Hakim for the FPS in the interview and in this article are about the same.



"Facilities Protection Service"

This is the term used by in the State Dept's weekly briefing slides found -


There are approx 144,000 in the FPS, the training and effectiveness varies by ministry and AOR.

MNF-North sent most of its allocated facilities protection services people thru a condensed training program to the point that a couple of FPS battalions are actually rated as "In the lead".

Thanks, SD. That is the precise figure that Hakim gave two months ago, actually. The article to which I linked notes that they are trying to centralize control of the FPS, and that it has created problems that Sadr-controlled ministries - mainly the health ministry - are using their FPS unit as a private force.

The FPS has been around since 2003 and was designed, as a stop-gap, to protect the Iraqi infrastructure. However, their effectivess has always been questionable due to the minimal training they've received and questionable loyalties. The Coalition tried to employ as many former military and police as possible to help protect the critical infrastructure, such as oil pipelines, electical power grid, and various government or infractructure buildings.