When the Iraqi government launched an online recruitment drive for its elite counterterrorism forces in May, a startling 300,000 men applied. Of those, 3,000 passed a preliminary screening. Only about 1,000 are expected to be accepted into the rigorous joint American-Iraqi training academy, an American military trainer said.
The staggering response points to the popularity of the “Golden Division” following its high-profile role in wresting back territory from the Islamic State. But the rigorous selection process highlights the challenge of rebuilding a force that the United States says lost 40 percent of its human and military resources in the nine-month battle for the city of Mosul.