The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense held the first U.S.-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue (JSCD) in Washington, D.C. from August 7-8, 2023. During the meeting, they reaffirmed their commitment to security cooperation and their shared interest in promoting regional stability.
A U.S. Embassy statement reported that Minister of Defense Thabit al-Abbasi headed a delegation from Iraq in a meeting with a U.S. a delegation, headed by Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense, was present. The two delegations discussed various defense issues as part of their comprehensive partnership, in compliance with the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.
The Minister of Iraq, al-Abbasi, held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, and other U.S. officials from various departments including the Joint Staff, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, State Department, and National Security Council. The Iraqi delegation consisted of high-ranking officials such as the Director of the Counterterrorism Service, the Chief of Defense, and the Deputy Commander of the Joint Operations Command-Iraq.
During the meeting, both U.S. and Iraqi delegations expressed their unwavering commitment to enhancing Iraq’s security and defense capabilities. They also emphasized the importance of strengthening security cooperation in various areas to promote mutual interests in Iraq’s security and sovereignty, as well as regional stability.
The Joint Strategic Cooperation Document (JSCD) is a sign of the growing partnership between the United States and Iraq. It builds on previous discussions, such as the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in July 2021 and the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee in February 2023. Both the U.S. and Iraqi delegations acknowledged the successful implementation of the Strategic Dialogue and confirmed that no U.S. forces are in Iraq with a combat role. All U.S. military personnel in Iraq are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government to provide training, advice, assistance, and intelligence support in the fight against ISIS.
During the meeting, both parties discussed common obstacles and chances for collaboration. They placed particular emphasis on the successful outcomes of the Defeat-ISIS campaign, continual endeavors to prevent the group from regrouping, and confirmed their cooperation with Iraqi Security Forces, including the Peshmerga. Both sides also expressed their shared dedication to maintaining regional stability.
During the meeting, the delegations reviewed the important operational support that Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) provides to the Iraqi Security Forces. This support includes training, advising, assisting, and sharing intelligence. During the conversation, they emphasized the importance of promptly returning displaced individuals and detainees from northeastern Syria to their respective home countries. Additionally, they talked about supporting reintegration efforts in local communities.
The United States and Iraq plan to work together to establish a new process for determining the future of the Coalition’s military mission. This process will be separate from the JSCD and will take into account factors such as the threat from ISIS, operational and environmental needs, and the capability levels of the ISF. The delegations from both countries have agreed to form a higher military commission to evaluate this future process.
During the meeting, the delegations talked about how to improve the institutional capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces with the help of U.S. military assistance and security cooperation programs such as Foreign Military Financing and Foreign Military Sales. They also discussed ways to expand the educational opportunities for Iraq’s military professionals, including training programs and educational exchanges. Additionally, they explored opportunities for Iraq to participate in more military exercises led by U.S. Central Command.
Both Iraq and the United States have confirmed that U.S. forces are present in Iraq only to support the Iraqi Security Forces in their battle against ISIS, and not for any other purpose. To maintain the security and sovereignty of Iraq, the Iraqi government has pledged to protect U.S. and Global Coalition personnel, convoys, advisors, and diplomatic facilities. The two delegations have expressed their intention to hold future meetings to discuss the ever-changing threat from ISIS, operational needs, and ways to enhance the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces.
The successful completion of the first Joint Staff Coordination Dialogue (JSCD) demonstrates the commitment of both countries to ongoing military cooperation across all areas, with a focus on supporting Iraq’s efforts to defeat ISIS.