Iraq’s Oldest Special Operations Force Ready for Today’s Challenges

Story by Sgt. Cambrin Bassett, SOJTF-OIR, June 20, 2020

Qwat al-Khasah or SFI (Special Forces of Iraq) are handpicked from the Iraqi Security Force or ISF, whose members come from all regions of Iraq and many different backgrounds. They consider themselves a non-sectarian specialized fighting force, putting their country first, and always ready to answer the call in defense of the nation.

SFI, under the Iraq Ministry of Defense, is the first special operations force in the Iraqi military and operates similar to US Army Rangers. The name Qwat al-Khasah is Arabic for “Special Forces.”

“The Special Forces of Iraq have a long and prestigious history as a well-known and highly respected unit prior to partnership with Coalition Special Operations,” states the U.S. Special Forces Commander currently advising the SFI on training and combat operations against Daesh. “When the Qwat al-Khasah arrive to locations throughout Iraq, just their presence in the area has a stabilizing affect as they are highly respected by the people for their humanity and outreach to locals, but also because of their skill at closing with and destroying Daesh.”

With three battalions that stand ready to deploy anywhere in Iraq within 96 hours, the Qwat al-Khasah is a specialized light fighting force capable of rapid infiltration, raid, ambush, aerial and ground reconnaissance, and wide area clearance. The group is also trained on various weapons platforms, ranging from light machine guns to mortar systems.
Since 2018, validation of the 1st and 2nd Qwat al-Khasah battalions included real-world operations outside of traditional training grounds. This specialized training paired with real operations have quickly transformed them into an elite force that supports and strengthens the Iraqi Army and other Iraqi Security Forces with their expertise in small unit tactics for counter-terrorism operations.

“With strong efforts from the Iraqi Army leadership the Special Forces were established equivalent to world armies. The Special Forces were trained and equipped at a high level with cooperation of the coalition forces,” says a senior Qwat al-Khasah leader. “The Qwat al-Khasah Brigade established and is ready to implement missions as a long arm for the Iraqi Army and as a strong reserve to involve in any mission that requires counter-terrorism operations.”

The Qwat al-Khasah partner with Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on Iraq-focused counter-terrorism missions to bring the fight to Daesh directly. This kind of partnership helps eliminate future terrorist attacks and provides stability to Iraq and the region.


Photo: Qwat al-khasah, Special Forces Iraq, is provided advice, assistance, and support by SOJTF-OIR. Photo by Sgt. Cambrin Bassett, June 24, 2020.

This article was originally posted on DVIDS on June 20, 2020. The author is Sgt. Cambrin Bassett, Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

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