U.S. Factsheet Details New Spike in U.S. Military Aid to Iraq

The State Department recently released a key fact sheet highlighting the United States’ current attempt to rebuild Iraq’s security forces to combat the rise of the Islamic State (IS). During the Iraq War (2003-2011), the United States spent $23 billion in military and police aid to the country – an average of $2.5 billion per year – on military equipment and training to defeat the insurgency and build an effective fighting force.

Following the collapse of Iraq’s fighting force, the United States is again trying to train and equip the Iraqi military to effectively defeat a terrorist group.  In FY2015, Congress allocated $1.6 billion for the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) with $1.2 billion for official Iraqi forces, $350 million for Kurdish forces, and $24 million for tribal security forces.

According to the fact sheet, the United States has already provided Iraq’s security forces over 1,200 military vehicles, approximately 20,000 smalls arms and heavy weapons, 2,000 additional AT-4 anti-tank weapons and nearly 300 counter improvised explosive device equipment and more than 2,000 Iraqi Kurdish Forces received U.S. military training. In addition, the administration has requested an additional $715 million for ITEF for FY2016, which both houses of Congress have included in their versions of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Iraq does not just receive funding through ITEP though. Allocations for U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program began in FY 2012 for $850 million, originally intended to build up Iraq’s long-term sustainment and logistics capabilities, but as IS gained momentum in Iraq in 2014, portions of FMF funding were redirected to urgent counterterrorism supplies, including critical resupply of Hellfire missiles, rockets, tank ammunition, small arms/ammo and individual soldier items. Moving into FY2016, the administration has requested $250 million for FMF, the same amount that was allocated in FY 2015.

While these two programs compose the majority of security assistance to Iraq, some U.S. security aid programs still provide millions of dollars in funding to Iraq each year such as the Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR). From FY 2012-2015, Congress allocated on average $28 million annually for NADR, a relatively small decline in funding compared to the $30 million allocated annually during the last two years of the Iraq war.

U.S. security assistance to Iraq has returned to levels not seen since the end of the Iraq War in an effort to rebuild the Iraqi military and combat the Islamic State. The State Department stresses its dedication “to helping Iraq improve security, maintain sovereignty, and push back against terrorism, most recently ISIL.” As the United States continues its campaign against IS into 2016 one hopes that U.S. assistance is more effective compared to the last go-round, especially since the latest video released by IS depicts the fighters training with American-made M16 assault rifles.