Acute Politics describes the ISF structure.

At the top is the Iraqi Army. Under them are the Iraqi Police, the Provincial Security Forces, and the Neighborhood Watches.

The Army and Police are well known. The lowest branch of the ISF are the Provincial Security Forces. These are police auxiliaries. They are trained locally and provided weapons to serve under the direction of the Iraqi Police. They man checkpoitns and patrol regions, and generally reinforce police power during a time of war. Many go on to become policemen

Most interesting are the authorized militias – the Neighborhood Watch. They are usually tribal militias depending on the region.

Below the scope of government security operations is the “Neighborhood Watch”. These are volunteers from the local population, often managed by the local sheik and unpaid by the Iraqi government. The appearance of NW is often the portent of change in a historically violent area, because the formation of a local security force (as compared to outside intervention by Coalition Forces or ISF) represents a shift in the attitude of the local population. NW members are normally encouraged to join one branch or another of the ISF- after vetting, many of them eventually do become soldiers or policemen. American troops call them the “Good Bad Guys” or GBG- a title which reflects the checkered past of many fighters. One sheik, one of the first to stand up a militia in the Falluja area, now commands a company of PSF troops. His men began as a militia, became recognized as NW by the local Marine command, and many eventually went to the academy to become PSF.

The increase in Neighborhood Watches and the rapid growth of the ISF is a major positive sign that the population has turned against the insurgency and is actively denying territory and resources to the enemy. This is most significant in Anbar.

Since many are “Good Bad Guys”, the NWs contribute more than basic manpower. As former insurgents, they understand the enemy’s tactics and can provide an excellent source of intelligence to the ISF.