Republic of Korea Forces in Iraq: Peacekeeping and Reconstruction

By Hwang, Eui-Don | Military Review, November/December 2005 | Go to article overview
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Republic of Korea Forces in Iraq: Peacekeeping and Reconstruction


Hwang, Eui-Don, Military Review


ON 30 JANUARY 2005, the historic national election in Iraq resulted in the appointment of the Iraqi Constituent National Assembly. Election results mitigated domestic conflict between ethnic and religious groups and put into place the political process to establish a new Iraqi government. Under the authority of the 2004 UN security Council Resolution 1546, Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-1) moved from conducting offensive operations against anti-Iraqi forces (AIF) to developing the Iraqi security Force (ISF) to allow the political process to proceed unhindered. The goals for Iraq's future were

* To secure the future political climate.

* To develop an ISF capable of independent operations.

* To help the Iraqi people establish an Iraqi democracy.

The change in policy emphasized civil-military operations (CMO) and reconstruction over offensive military operations.

The Republic of Korea's (ROK's) Mission in Iraq

In September 2004, the ROK Army deployed its Zaytun Division to the Irbil region in northern Iraq to provide CMO and reconstruction support for 6 months, establish friendly relations with the provincial government, donate critical materials to ISF troops and Iraqi civilians, and work to stabilize the region through humanitarian assistance to help guarantee freedom to participate in the national elections.

Activated in February 2004, the Division supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by maintaining security in its assigned area of responsibility (AOR), conducting postwar reconstruction projects, and providing humanitarian assistance. The Division prepared for CMO by organizing subordinate units, including an engineer battalion for reconstruction support, a medical battalion for humanitarian assistance, and four trained and organized multifunctional special operations battalions to perform a variety of missions.

Because of the emphasis on CMO, the Division activated a Civil-Military Coordination Center (CIMIC), directly subordinate to the commanding general, to coordinate between the Division and external agencies for reconstruction support. The Division focused on how to efficiently conduct CMO and reconstruction in the area of operations with limited funds, and it established these directives:

* Build friendships with local residents to establish CMO during the early stage of deployment.

* Identify local residents' most critical requirements before conducting CMO.

* Establish a plan for peacekeeping and reconstruction, taking into account the Division's capabilities and the provincial government's requirements.

To establish friendship with local agencies and residents quickly, the Division instilled awareness of regional societal and cultural norms through education about the region's indigenous religions, customs, languages, and lifestyles and provided opportunities for soldiers interested in Islam to visit mosques in Korea. ROK soldiers gained an understanding of Islamic and Kurdish cultures and customs and learned some simple Kurdish idioms.

Before deployment, the Division invited the Iraqi Olympic soccer team to Seoul to participate in a match hosted by the Division. The Division also invited the prime minister of the regional government to Korea to actively exchange opinions and build a relationship between government and Division officiais.

The Division employed three predeployment site survey (PDSS) teams to establish deployment plans and evaluate CMO prerequisites. The teams received seven support program requests from the provincial government for support for local infrastructure development, ISF support, and expressway construction.

CMO and Reconstruction

With CIMIC analysis and requirements, the Division developed 67 tasks in 4 areas of support: friendship building, ISF support, humanitarian assistance, and infrastructure-development support. The Division planned and trained for each task, dividing the tasks into those a battalion could conduct independently and those that required government support.

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