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News | July 27, 2016

Iraqi Minister of Defense Delivers Keynote to CISA’s Reserve Component National Security Course

By Ben Jury (CISA)

Iraq’s Minister of Defense, Dr. Khaled al-Obeidi, spoke to more than 150 Reserve Component leaders participating in the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) Reserve Component National Security Course (RCNSC). Focusing his remarks on the contemporary security challenges Iraq faces in the fight against the Islamic State, the Minister traced the creation of safe havens for terrorism to the governance vacuum after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

Dr. al-Obeidi observed that the Islamic State capitalized on the intensified sectarian divisions in Iraq at a time in which the country suffered from weak political will, poor strategic battling, and inadequate security services. He also underscored the importance of Iraq in regional and global counterterrorism efforts, praising the coalition forces for their assistance in Iraq, while simultaneously calling on security partners to redouble their efforts against the Islamic State.

During his talk, Dr. al-Obeidi also addressed a range of related topics, such as the process of liberating and reintegrating Mosul under Iraq’s national government. He stressed that ideology is one of the driving forces of terrorism within Iraq, and that the chasm between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq is over political, rather than societal, issues. Minister al-Obeidi recounted some lessons learned from fighting IS, including the importance of a unified command and strategy in combating the group, as well as the importance of surprise attacks in effectively degrading the Islamic State’s fighting power.
The Minister’s speech was part of the RCNSC curriculum, which focuses on contemporary national security issues. CISA’s Chancellor, Dr. Mike Bell, noted that although CISA is the newest of the NDU’s five colleges, both the University and RCNSC are celebrating 40 year anniversaries this year.
“Speakers like Dr. Khaled al-Obeidi fit in well with CISA’s mission to educate and prepare civilian and military national security professionals and future leaders from the US and partner nations for the strategic challenges of the contemporary security environment,” said Dr. Bell. The College is the Department of Defense flagship for education and the building of partnership capacity in combating terrorism and irregular warfare at the strategic level.

The RCNSC is a two-week seminar offered to senior officers and non-commissioned officers (E8-E9) of the U.S. Reserve Components, allied officers, and select civilians working in national security. It is designed to lay a foundation for students moving on to joint command management and staff responsibilities in a multinational, intergovernmental, or joint national security setting.