Iraqi Special Operations

Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF)

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Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) refers to the Iraqi special forces unit created by Coalition forces after the 2003 invasion. As of March 2008, the force currently consists of a single brigade which in turn is made up of a Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Force (ICTF) battalion, three Commando battalions, a support battalion and a special reconnaissance unit. The unit falls under the command of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau. The Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion is the largest part of the ISOF Brigade.


Most special operations troops in the old Iraqi army were almost all Sunni Arabs, selected for their loyalty to Saddam Hussein, and sometimes used against their own people. Because of this, the current Iraqi commando force had to be recruited from scratch, mostly from Kurds or Shia Arabs. In November 2005, after two years of training in Jordan with Jordanian and US Army Special Forces, the Iraqi Special Operations Force had 1440 men trained, composed into two combat battalions and two support battalions.

Regional units

Four 440-man commando battalions are currently in formation in Basra, Mosul, Diyala and Al Asad. The battalions at Basra and Mosul achieved Iraqi Operational Control (IOC) in January 2008 and conduct local operations. Regional CT Centers (RCCs), similar to Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) organizations, will be established at all four regional commando bases to develop intelligence on terrorist networks in their region.

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