The Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion (36th CDO BN) is one of several Iraqi Special Operations Units that have emerged since the fall of the Saddam Hussein Regime. Official part of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade (ISOF BDE) this aggressive unit could be likened to the role of the United States 75th Ranger Regiment has in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
Commonly confused with other units that called themselves Commandos after the creation of the 36th Commandos; this unit is one of the most combat experienced/ proven units in the new Iraqi Army.
History of the 36th CDO BN
On 25 November 2003 a decision was made between the Coalitional Provisional Authority (CPA), the Commander Central Command (CDRCENTCOM), the Commander Combined Joint Task Force – 7 (CDR CJTF-7), and the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). These elements agreed to form a Baghdad-based, 500-man battalion by integrating militiamen from five (5) Political Parties: Iraqi National Accord (INA), Iraqi National Congress (INC), Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The men would be well-trained, physically fit, and would serve the new Iraqi nation and not just one party. The battalion would initially be treated as an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) unit under 1st Armored Division (1 AD) control, but eventually it would be transferred to Iraqi control. The battalion was given the unit designation of the 36th CICDC (Composite-ICDC).
The challenge was to have this unit operational in one month (26 December 2003). CDRCENTCOM tasked CJSOTF-AP to attach USSF advisors with this battalion and develop this new type of ICDC operations. FOB 51 1st Bn. 5th SFG (A) re-tasked AOB 520, ODB (-), three ODA’s(-) and 1 full ODA from performing Unconventional Warfare(UW) and Direct Action (DA) missions to standing up the 36th ICDC Battalion. Split teams lined up with 4 Infantry Companies, plus a Scout and HQ Platoon; 521- A co., 523- B co., 524- C co., 533- D co., 533- Scouts and 520- HQ. AOB 520 CDR, MAJ John was the OIC with MSG Ron, 533 Team Sgt. as the NCOIC.
03 December 2003, the 5 Iraqi Political parties sent their militiamen to Camp Dogwood, located approx. 20 km south of Baghdad, for 1 week of basic training. This phase consisted of unit assignment, medical screening, and basic soldier skills. After completion of this phase they moved to Camp Falcon, south Baghdad, where the unit received 2 weeks of Advanced Operations training. This phase focused on patrolling, CQB techniques, urban movement, and development of primary/subordinate leaders. Towards the end of this phase, ODA 535 and a Split team from ODA 534 replaced the split teams from 521, 523 and 524; 535- A co., 535- B co., 533- C co., 533- D co., 534- Scouts and 520- HQ. The Scout NCOIC was SFC Brett Walden, who paid the ultimate price for Iraq’s Freedom in the summer of 2005 in the Nineveh Province on a separate engagement.
CJSOTF-AP met the timeline with the graduation of the 36th CICDC Bn. and A co. conducting the new fielded units first combat reconnaissance patrol on the night of the 26 December 2003. The Companies were assigned AO’s in Baghdad, which they relocated to with their split teams. The teams lived in the same quarters, eating, training and developing rapport with their assigned companies.
From 2004-2005, The 36th CICDC evolved into the 36th Commandos. Several ODA’s served with them, to include; ODA’s from 2nd Bn 5th Group, then 533/535/513 combined and some 10th Group teams. Over 1 year after graduation, they received the New Lithuanian uniforms (which they had been promised to receive at that graduation.) A 36th CICDC patch was made in the shape of Iraq using the colors of the Iraqi flag as a back drop and centered in green the number “36”. In the summer of 2004, ODA 533’s SFC Jade, SFC Steve and ODA 535’s SSG Matt, developed Commando school located at FOB 51 Headquarters on the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) grounds. The school was located on property that was once used by Saddam Hussein as a private zoo/Palace. The Commando School focused on CQB, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, objective infiltration (to include fast roping from helicopters) and the character development of leaders/subordinate leaders.
Before the 36th Commandos, Iraq had no other unit named Commandos. As their AO opened and missions took them to all parts of Iraq, the media followed. The success of the unit became known throughout Iraq. Many units changed their name from Special Forces to Commandos, to include police units and other militias.
History of C co. 36th CDO BN
C co. 36th CICDC, found a home within the gates of the Ministry of Oil (MOO). On the backside of the grounds was a 3-story building, which had been a day care for the children of the workers at the MOO. It had several rooms, multiple entrances and could be approached from several directions by multiple vehicles because of its location in the MOO parking lot. This served as an excellent training platform for CQB because this one building could be set up to mirror and be approached exactly like any target house/objective. Because most of the objectives were Raids, C co. 36th quickly adopted the name “Serriah Al Icktaham-Charlie” or Assault Company “Charlie”.
Commando School Badge
Upon graduation from Commando School the Commando received the Commando badge similar to the 36th CDO BN Unit Patch, a green rectangle with an Eagle with spread wings centered on it and written in English and Arabic was the title Commando. The badge was worn over the left chest pocket.
A co. 36th CDO BN Insignia
B co. 36th CDO BN Insignia
C co. 36th CDO BN Insignia
They developed a Company patch and awards to signify unit members’ experience. The Company patch was a maroon rectangle with a white skull and cross bones centered on the rectangle. Maroon/red in Iraq was traditionally used for Special Forces. The Company patch was made into a sign with, “Serriah Al Icktaham Charlie” written in Arabic on top and Assault Company “Charlie” written in English on the bottom. When a new recruit showed up to the unit they were given the C co. patch, which was placed above the left chest pocket and an Iraqi flag, placed on his right shoulder. When a Commando went on his 1st Combat Operation with the unit, he received a “Kawat Al Hassa” or “Special Forces” tab on his left shoulder. This was a tab used during the Saddam Regime. When a Commando went on his 1st “Iktaham” or “Assault/Raid”, he was awarded a red shoulder lanyard, which was also used during the Saddam Regime, which was worn on his right shoulder.
D co. 36th CDO BN Insignia