Coalition Provisional Authority
Contact: J. Pepper Bryars
April 19, 2004
Briefing on the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force
Baghdad – Senior officials with the Ministry of Defense and the Coalition
held a briefing Monday afternoon where they detailed the development of the
Iraqi Coastal Defense Force.
The following fact sheet was distributed during the briefing:
Iraqi Coastal Defense Force Fact Sheet
Maritime security is crucial to Iraq’s future stability and prosperity. With
only 58-kilometers of coastline, the nation is reliant on the ports of Umm Qasr
and Basrah and its two off-shore oil terminals. At present, Umm Qasr is the only
operational port and is strategically important since the closure of Basrah
during the Iran-Iraq war. The two off-shore oil terminals at Kohr al Amaya and
Mina al Bakr are critical to income generation.
Iraq will have a 407-strong Coastal Defense Force which should become
operational by mid-summer. The ICDF will be equipped with five 27-meter long
patrol boats armed with heavy machine guns and 10 rigid inflatable boats that
will be used by its Coastal Defense Regiment, which is akin to the Marines. They
will be stationed at the Umm Qasr Naval Base.
The ICDF will conduct policing operations on the Iraqi coastline and territorial
waters up to 12-nautical miles in order to counter terrorism, smuggling, piracy
and other unlawful activities and provide a limited Search and Rescue
The force will be expected to be an integral part of Coalition efforts, working
closely with security forces in Basrah province and naval forces in the northern
Arabian Gulf. Its roles will be defense and security and the policing of
international regulations governing the environment and safety at sea. This is a
new departure for Iraq, and a sign that the country is preparing to take its
peaceful place in the global arena.
ICDF personnel are drawn from a range of backgrounds. In July, once all have
been recruited, the force will be 407 strong, divided between the naval element
and the Coastal Defense Regiment (akin to Marines). At present there are some
170 personnel, mainly officers and NCOs, undertaking specialist maritime
training in Umm Qasr. Many have previously served in the Iraqi navy, and most
officers are graduates of the prestigious Basrah Naval College. The average age
of the force is 30.
The ICDF will initially be equipped with five 27-meter patrol boats each armed
with heavy machine guns and capable of speeds in excess of 40-miles per-hour.
They will be manned by crews of six and by September, one will always be at sea
protecting Iraqi interests. Additionally there will be 10 Rigid Inflatable Boats
manned by the Coastal Defense Regiment which will be used for board and search
operations. They will be based at the Umm Qasr Naval Base which is presently
under construction. Any further development of the force will be the
responsibility of the elected Iraqi government.
The majority of the ICDF undertake basic training alongside their army
colleagues at the drill camps in northern Iraq – these courses last for
approximately eight-weeks. A few have been selected for courses overseas. Ten
officers have already completed a three-month Patrol Boat Commanding Officers’
at the UK’s Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. A further nine officers
have also completed a two-month infantry commanders course in Jordan.
Once basic training is completed, all members of the ICDF join the Umm Qasr
Naval Training School, for the specialist maritime phase. The curriculum
includes board and search training, navigation, damage control, seamanship,
first aid, search and rescue techniques, maritime law and, for the Coastal
Defense Regiment, more advanced infantry skills. The training program has been
deliberately designed with an eye to the future – with documentation and
resources that Iraqis can use to instruct themselves. The aim is to create a
professional, specialist maritime force capable of serving the new democracy
effectively and accountably.
The Force will be commanded by a Brigadier General (yet to be appointed), who
will divide his time between the Joint Headquarters in Baghdad as the Chief of
the Defense Staff’s senior maritime advisor, and the Umm Qasr Naval Base. The
force’s missions will be set by the Joint Headquarters.