I have been closely following the process of building and equipping the Iraqi security forces (ISF). One of the areas I am most interested in is the future of the Iraqi air force and air defense capabilities. The challenges facing Iraq in this particular area are huge for several reasons. The most important reason is the large cost in both time and money that are required to equip, train and field a reliable modern air force.
Today U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates is in Baghdad to discuss assistance to the ISF beyond 2011. The possibility of equipping the Iraqi air force with F-16 fighter jets is expected to be a priority in the discussions.
For the last few months, I have been working to analyze Iraq’s defense needs, particularly what the country would need to secure its airspace and support its ground forces. I have come to the conclusion that expensive modern fighter jets may not be the best procurement option for Iraq at this stage.
I invite those interested in this aspect of military policy to read my analysis and share feedback. You can find the paper in pdf format here.