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Every time I write about tank sales I get the comment that Iraq should buy armored personnel carriers instead.  The commenter always says they are less threatening to the neighbors and more useful for internal security. 

  1. Appeasement is a western concept and has failed repeatedly.  Weakness is an invite to invasion in the mid-east mentality.
  2. Tanks are a measure of power in the mid-east.  Power makes enemies lay low in the mid-east.
  3. Iraq has been buying armored personnel carriers and other vehicles for internal security.  They have plenty in their inventory or on order already.


Most of the armor forces in the world have a mix of 4:3 to 2:1 of armored personnel carriers to tanks.  [The US is 2:1 because, we use armored personnel carriers in the mechanized combat service support role, most countries just use trucks to haul their supplies.]


When looking at the vehicles in the Iraqi Security Force (ISF), you first need to discount the 10,000+ HMMWVs and 11,000+ up-armored 4x4 tactical trucks [technicals] in the ISF.  Those vehicles plus the medium and heavy trucks just make the Iraqi Security Force motorized.


Then you need to discount the 2,200 lighter armored personnel carriers (APCs) and mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles in the ISF that are not suitable to support tanks as APCs.  [E.G.: DZIK3, Barracuda, OTOKAR, Reva, Mohafiz, Panhard VCR, and ILAV/Badger.]  These are EOD, Engineering route-clearance, Military Police [etc] vehicles used to support or to further motorize the force.


Iraq has 870 APCs suitable to work with tanks [BMP1, M113, MTLB, Type 63, and BTR80] in the current inventory.  The IA has 820 suitable APCs on order [Strykers and BTR4s].  This makes for a total of 1,690 APCs suitable for working with tanks to be in inventory by 2014.  At this point all of the BTR80s, Type 63s, MTLBs, M113s, and half of the BMP1s are operating in 12 APC-only mechanized battalions due to the limited number of tanks.  The 5 BMP1-only battalions are being called “Tank” battalions despite not having any tanks.


Iraq has less than 200 tanks in their current inventory [72 T55 and ~110 T72] and only have 350 more [70 NATO donated T72 and 280 ordered M1A1] to be delivered by 2012 for a total of just under 550 tanks on hand or in production.  Even the smallest country bordering Iraq, Kuwait out-guns the current Iraqi Army in tanks.


The current ratio of Iraqi APCs to tanks is 4:1 [not including the light APCs].  When the known additional orders are added, the ratio is will reach about 3:1 in 2013.  To get to the standard ratio of 4:3 APCs to tanks, Iraq would need to order an additional 650 tanks to partner with their already existing and ordered APCs.  To get to the US ratio of 2:1, Iraq would need to order an additional 300 tanks.


As my last article stated, my read of the probable Ukrainian Oplot/Yatagan tank order, based on price and amount left to order [1.95 billion], is 2 to 3 mechanized division sets of tanks or 280 to probably 420 tanks to be ordered.Even the maximum possible buy of Oplot tanks, using all remaining 1.95 billion at 3.4 million for each tank, is only 573 tanks, less than the 650 for the standard 4:3 ratio of APCs to tanks.  The number of projected tank buys based on price in my last article fits for a conservative estimate of how many tanks are needed to partner with existing and known orders of APCs to fill out the Iraqi Army.


Iraq has or has already ordered enough APCs to fill out over half of that component of their planned 2020 armor force.  What the Iraqi Army is seriously short of is tanks and artillery.  It would not be surprising if the Ukrainian tank order turned out to be more than predicted. 

As the title states, this is heavy on speculation.  I put on the blindfold, spun around until dizzy, and then threw a dart at a spinning dart-board.  Not really but, not having firm data, I did some guessing.


The recently announced 2.5 billion dollar sale of Ukrainian arms to Iraq only accounts for 550 million dollars of the sale.   A review of Ukrainian weapons production limits the likely exports planned for the remaining 1.95 billion dollars.


The Ukraine primarily builds and refurbishes transport aircraft, wheeled armored personnel carriers, and tanks.  The initial orders are for 10 AN-32 transport aircraft and 420 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers plus refurbishment of 2 Mi-8 transport helicopters.  That leaves tanks and refurbishing existing Iraqi armor as the most likely probabilities for the remaining orders.


Tanks are the symbol of army power in the middle-east.  Only in western nations is appeasement and intentional weakness considered as anything other than weakness and an invitation to invasion. 


At 3.4 million per tank, the remaining 1.95 billion would equal the cost of 573 Oplot/Yatagan tanks.  560 tanks would be enough to equip four mechanized divisions with their tank component.  However, it is unlikely that all of the remaining purchase would be for new tanks.   


Iraq has 110 T72 and 72 T54/55 tanks that can be upgraded with 120mm guns and new engines.  There are also 70 Slovakian T72 tanks that were donated but have not arrived.  These donated tanks have been pending delivery for 18 months and could be upgraded.   By upgrading them to NATO smoothbore 120mm guns, the Iraqi Army would be standardizing their ammunition and the engine commonality would streamline engine parts.


Iraq also has 98 BTR-80 and 61 MTLB armored personnel carriers that could be upgraded with new engines and 30mm guns.   How much additional armor is in the Iraqi bone-yards and could be made operational with these upgrades is not known.  Iraq currently plans to have 4 armored and 6 mechanized divisions.


The Iraqi Army’s 9th Armored Division is upgrading to M1A1 tanks and M1126 Strykers.  The Soviet-built armor is being redistributed to other divisions.  As part of this redistribution, 6 Iraqi Army divisions and the Iraqi Special Operations Force has sent personnel to train on maintaining BTR80 and BMP1 armored personnel carriers. 


While the 9th Armored Division has BMP1s and all of the BTR80, it is more likely to have provided the instructors.  The Iraqi Special Operations Force’s new forming Strike Teams are probably getting the BTR80s.  The other 6 Iraqi Army divisions are probably getting a mechanized brigade each from the existing armor.  This also indicates these 6 divisions are prime candidates for upgrading with Ukrainian tanks. 

  • 7th Motorized Division of the Quick Intervention Corps in Anbar has two battalions of BMP1s and is planned to upgrade to an armored division.
  • 11th Motorized Division in eastern Baghdad has a battalion of BMP1s and a battalion of MTLBs.  It is planned to be converted to a mechanized division.  Armor augmentation in east Baghdad by 9th Armored Division has been normal since 2005.
  • 19th Mechanized Division is planned to form out of elements of the current 8th Commando Division in Wasit.  While not currently equipped with armor, one of the recently graduated BMP1 maintenance students belonged to the 1-33/8 Commando Battalion in Wasit. 
  • 5th Motorized Division in Diyala has been augmented by armor from the 9th Armored Division for the last two years and is planned to become a mechanized division.
  • 14th Motorized Division in Basrah has been augmented by armor from the 9th Armored Division for the last two years and is planned to become a mechanized division.
  • 18th Mechanized Division is forming out of elements of the current 10th Motorized Division in Maysan.  While no armor augment has been reported, the Location Command for the new division was commissioned and includes 3 vehicle maintenance facilities.


There are no signs of upgrade activity in the 1st Motorized Division [planned mechanized] and 3rd Motorized Division [planned armored].  The activity in the 10th Motorized Division [planned armored] appears to be focused on the formation of the new 18th Mechanized Division. 


I estimate that the remaining 1.95 billion dollars of the Ukrainian arms purchase is for enough tanks to equip at least 2, probably 3 mechanized divisions with tanks [not APCs yet] and to upgrade the older armor in the Iraqi Army.  This would provide the tank component for 4 to 5 mechanized divisions.  The current M1A1 contracts are re-equipping the 9th Armored Division by the end of 2011.  The BTR-4s are probably for the Iraqi Special Operations Force Strike Teams.


With follow on orders of M1A1s and Ukrainian tanks, the Iraqi Army could have all 4 armored and 6 mechanized planned divisions equipped with tanks by 2016 [end of Phase 2 of the upgrade plan].   The infantry components would be upgraded slower, completing well after the tanks are delivered.  The armored divisions probably will be equipped with M1A1 tanks [3 divisions] and upgraded T72 tanks [1 division].  The 6 mechanized divisions will probably be equipped with Oplot/Yatagan tanks.  Of note, the Presidential Division will probably get some armor, most likely M1A1s.

There is a common mistake made when analyzing information.  This is especially true when you have incomplete data.  This is an important factor to consider as it is the most common mistake made in analysis. 


When you expect something to happen, you tend to fit items of information into that framework.  That can skew analysis badly wrong since no two people think alike and priorities/plans change.  The psychology term for this is Projection.   You are projecting your beliefs as to what is happening as being the same as what they are thinking/doing.


My first estimate of the reported purchase of 420 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers [APCs] from the Ukraine was that they are for the Iraqi Special Operations Force [ISOF] Strike Teams.   The purchase fits that plan and the majority of evidence still points that way BUT....


There are actually seven possibilities.  In order of probability:

  1. Providing the ISOF Strike Teams with their planned armor is still the most likely probability.  This plan for "Elite Battalions" has been in the works for over two years.  It has been delayed for primarily budget reasons and the need for cadre for the Real Surge, the expansion of the Iraqi Army from 36 brigades to the current 57 brigades, most were formed in 2008.  The start of forming the Strike Teams means they need to be equipped and the report of ISOF personnel getting BTR80 training fits for expecting to get like vehicles.
  2. Iraqi Army Division armored personnel carriers.  The mention of possible orders of Oplot Tanks in the Ukrainian orders support this possibility.  The mix of 400 M1126 Strykers [271 ordered with option for 129 more for budget reasons.] and 140 M1A1 Abrams that are equipping the 9th Division compares to the 420 BTR4s ordered and the possible order of Oplot tanks.  A fit for a potential mechanized division set of tanks and APCs being ordered from the Ukraine.
  3. Planned Federal Police Mechanized Division.  There is a plan for a Federal Police Mechanized Division.  While it is expected to be equipped with M1117s and Reva APCs, the Federal Police may have decided to go with heavier armor.  These could fit as equipping the remaining three brigades for this division. 
  4. Upgrading the 1st (IIF) Division to a Light Mechanized Division.  Given this division’s role, such an upgrade cannot be excluded. No evidence
  5. Three Iraqi Army light mechanized brigades built on the lines of 37th Light Mechanized Brigade.  No evidence.
  6. Divisional light mechanized battalions for the Iraqi Army divisions.  But, they are disbanding the Divisional Commando (ISR) Battalions.  No evidence. 
  7. Department of Border Enforcement commando battalions.  Mobil border reaction forces.  Unless they have changed priorities, this is very unlikely.  No evidence.


The first option is still the most likely but; option 2 is a strong contender when you factor in the possible Oplot tank purchase.


The other five options are low order possibilities but, cannot be excluded.  There have been no reports as to what service is getting these BTR4s.  They are a match in numbers and improved capabilities over the cancelled BTR-3E1s that were cancelled in 2008 for budget and capabilities problems.  But that is not the only potential use for this armor.

Nationalization-mod Known Provincial Paramilitary, MoI Emergency Response Force, and Federal Police Battalions as of December 2009.  Red is Emergency Response Battalions [MoI SOF].  Blue are Federal Police Battalions.  Grey are Provincial Emergency Response Units [SWAT Battalions] and Emergency Battalions.  All battalions are planned to be Federal Police or Emergency Response Force by 2016.



A common misperception about reported plans to increase the strength of the Iraqi Army, Federal Police, and Emergency Response Force [Ministry of Interior Special Forces] is that Iraq cannot afford the extra personnel and that it is not going to happen.  The reality is that the personnel are already on the Iraqi Government’s pay-role.  These increases are a transfer, retraining and re-designation of paramilitary personnel currently serving in provincial security forces and the Peshmerga.


In the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, this program is called “Nationalization”.  Nationalization started in 2007 when the Provincial Police Departments were ordered to separate the trained police from the untrained former army and the untrained tribal levees.  Many of former army personnel were trained as SWAT and organized into Emergency Response Units (ERU) and Emergency Services Units (ESU) battalions.  The remaining former army and tribal levees were organized into Emergency Battalions (EB). 


Not including the Kurdish Regional Guards [Peshmerga], there are 43 ERU/ESUs and 53 EBs (96 battalions) identified by open source reporting in the current provincial emergency forces.  There were 12 more battalions but, they have already been Nationalized.  There are also at least 12 Peshmerga battalions transferring to the Federal Police and the Emergency Response Force.  The Peshmerga are all trained at ERU level.  These are minimum numbers planned to transfer from the provincial police commands. 


Part of the reason for this program is to remove the provincial police paramilitary forces from the command and funding of the individual provinces to prevent the formation of private armies in the provinces.


Ministry of Interior (MoI) Emergency Response Force [Special Forces]


In 2008-2009, there have been six provincial ERUs nationalized.  The MoI transferred the National Police ERU and retrained six provincial ERUs to the Emergency Response Brigade.  The training program for this MoI Special Forces conversion has a 50 percent drop rate despite starting with SWAT trained provincial ERU personnel.  For every two provincial ERUs that entered the program, one MoI Emergency Response Battalion graduated.  Those that were dropped returned to the provincial paramilitary police for eventual transfer to the Federal Police. 


The seven current Emergency Response Battalions are:

  • 1st MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Baghdad  [former INP ERU]
  • 2nd MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Wassit [Kut ERU Nationalized]
  • 3rd MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Babil  [Hillah ERU Nationalized]
  • 4th MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Salahadin  [Tikrit ERU Nationalized]
  • 5th MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Ninawa  [Mosul ERU Nationalized]
  • 6th MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Diyala  [Baqubah ERU Nationalized]
  • 7th MoI Emergency Response Battalion in Salahadin  [Samarra ERU Nationalized]

They are nationalizing an average of four new Emergency Response Battalions per year.  Based on the number of provincial ERUs and the plan for at least one Emergency Response Battalion per province, the Emergency Response Force is expected to grow from its current seven battalions to approximately 24-26 Special Forces battalions, a two division equivalent by 2016.  The MoI is also purchasing aviation assets to support this force.


It is probable that this force will eventually be transferred to the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) but, the legislation authorizing the CTS has been stuck in the Council of Representatives for two years.  If this transfer occurs, then these battalions will be the local Special Forces response forces in each province while the Iraqi Special Operations Force Brigades will provide the high-end regional response forces.


Ministry of Interior Federal Police


The ERU personnel that do not get selected for the Emergency Response Forces and the untrained Emergency Battalions [mostly tribal levees] are being sent to Federal Police training and vetting and being “nationalized” into Federal Police Brigades.  A brigade has been converted in Diyala and Wassit provinces.  Maysan, Dhi Qar, Ninawa and the Kurdish Region are showing signs of being the next to “nationalize” additional brigades into the Federal Police. 


The rate of Federal Police Nationalizations is about six brigades every year.  One brigade goes through the eight-week Federal Police training at a time.  Based on the number of Emergency Police, already existing Federal Police, and the planned transfer of the Kurdish Special Police Division, the Federal Police is planned to be a 12 division force by 2016.


Other Possible “Nationalizations”


To date, only the Federal Police and the Emergency Response Force has been “nationalizing” the provincial Emergency Police Forces in the Ministry of Interior.   The Department of Border Enforcement (DBE), Facilities Protection Service, and Oil Police have not been participating in this program to date.


The Iraqi Army is planned to gain at least two divisions from the Kurdish Regional Guards but, this has been delayed for two years now due to budget disputes between the Kurdish Regional Government.  The Kurdish Regional Guards is 100,000 strong.  Those two planned transfers of Iraqi Army Divisions only accounts for 30,000 of those personnel.  The transfer of the Special Police Division accounts for another 12,000.  Even with 30,000 Peshmerga in the local police, there are enough personnel to potentially provide a third Iraqi Army Division and a second Federal Police Division.


Wartime Employment of the ERF and FP


The Ministry of Interior Forces is primarily responsible for internal security.  However, the Federal Police [and DBE] have the secondary role of providing infantry divisions to the Iraqi Army in wartime.  The Emergency Response Force also provides Special Forces augmentation in wartime.  


The expansion of the Ministry of Interior Emergency Response Forces and Federal Police [as well as the Iraqi Army] is not an expansion of the number of personnel in the Iraqi Security Forces.  It is a professionalization, re-organization, and consolidation of the existing Iraqi Security Forces. 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during November 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 November 2009.  The September 2009 Quarterly Report to Congress was released on 13 November and key items concerning the ISF were addressed in a separate post on 17 November 2009.  It will not be addressed in this update.


Highlights in this update include:  Indications that Iraq is about to receive its first M1126 Stryker armored personnel carriers and is starting to redistribute the Russian APCs that the Strykers are to replace.  M1A1 tank training, mortar training, and engineering route-clearance training continue, while the first female Iraqi Army boot camp class has graduated.  The Patrol Ship Nasir arrived in Iraq and two Offshore Support Vessels have been ordered.  A new training squadron has been identified, the first Iraqi Air Force Hellfire shoot was conducted, and potential new aircraft deliveries for the Air Force and Ministry of Interior were identified.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army Electrical Mechanical Engineering School graduated 28 Iraqi army students from the BTR-80 maintenance course and 27 Iraqi army students from the BMP-1 maintenance course on 23 November. The soldiers came from six different Iraqi army divisions as well as Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF).

  • "At the conclusion of the course, Iraqi army Col. Hassan, the EME School commander, presented the soldiers with graduation certificates. Hassan recognized Adel Abdul-Shaheed, assigned to the medium maintenance workshop for special operations forces, as the honor graduate for the BTR-80 course. Col. Hassan also recognized Ehab Muhammed Abd, of the 1st Battalion, 33rd Brigade, 8th IA Division, as the honor graduate for the BMP-1 maintenance course."


While this may seem to be small numbers graduating, the practice of “train-the-trainer” is still normal.  These graduates will return to their battalions and train their fellow maintainers. 


Only three Iraqi Army divisions have BMP-1 and BTR-80 armored personnel carriers. 9th Armored Division has all of the BTR-80s and most of the BMP-1s.  The 7th Motorized Division has two battalions of BMP-1s and 11th Motorized Division in east Baghdad has one battalion of BMP-1s.  ISOF does not have armored personnel carriers, however, the eight new Special Forces Strike Team battalions that are forming were originally planned to be equipped with Ukrainian BTR-3E1 - a heavier armed BTR-80 variant.


While that could mean that the Iraqi Army is receiving more BMP-1s and BTR-80s, there have been no reported purchases.  In August, the Iraqi Minister of Defense told Iraqi press that the 9th Armor Division was upgrading to US armor and that the Russian armor would be transferred to other units.


The 9th Armored Division has had battalion and sometimes brigade sized armor units augmenting the 5th Motorized Division and the 14th Motorized Division.  The graduation of an 8th Commando Division member indicates the 1-33/8 Battalion (recently moved from Karbala to Wassit) is to become part of the future mechanized division to be split off from 8th Commando Division - the future 19th Mechanized Division.  It also indicates that elements of the 33/8 Brigade are being transferred to Wassit, possibly confirming the future transfer of Karbala and Babil Provinces to the 17th Commando Division to correct the Mid-Euphrates Gap


The M1A1 training program is on track for providing the second battalion’s worth of tanks for 9th Armored Division by January.   "Forty-four tank crewmen from the 9th Division graduated from the fifth class [company] in the M1A1 Iraqi tank familiarization course at the Besmaya Training Center Nov. 18."  Four battalions worth of M1A1s are contracted for delivery by September 2010.


The expanded BMP-1 and BTR-80 maintenance training combined with the ongoing M1A1 upgrades means that the 9th Armored Division is starting to transfer its current tracked armor to the 14th Motorized Division in Basrah, 5th Motorized Division in Diyala, 11th Motorized Division in east Baghdad, 7th Motorized Division (Quick Reaction Forces) in western Anbar, and the future 19th Mechanized Division in Wassit.  Each of the divisions will probably convert at least one full brigade to mechanized or armored.  Notice that three of the five divisions are stationed in provinces bordering with Iran and one borders Syria.  It also means the first deliveries of M1126 Strykers are arriving soon to replace the BTR-80s and the BMP-1s in 9th Armored Division.


The wheeled BTR-80s are being transferred to ISOF, providing the initial armor for the eight new forming Special Forces Strike Team battalions.  When the more heavily armed versions arrive, the BTR-80s will probably revert to command and support vehicles in these units.


Mortar training continues with the last two operational Iraqi Army divisions starting their training.  "The 2nd and 3rd Iraqi army divisions are professionalizing their forces with 81mm mortar training at the Kirkuk Training Center this month. The divisions have been training since Nov. 1.”   Following normal patterns of building from the bottom-up, the next training of these two divisions will be on 120mm mortars.


There are seven sites training Iraqi Army units on mortars.  At one of those sites, "More than 150 Iraqi army soldiers conducted their end-of-course live-fire exercise Nov. 22 at the An Numaniyah Multi-Purpose Range Complex, culminating the 21-day course here." Only the firing crew requires this training.  That equates to approximately 30 mortar teams or five batteries training at this one training site.  Mortar training on 81mm mortars for the 6-tube battalion mortar batteries and 120mm mortars for the 9-tube brigade mortar batteries has been ongoing since the spring of 2009.  At this rate, the initial issue of mortars should be complete in the spring of 2010. 


Other significant events in the Iraqi Army during November include:
  • Elements of 3-41/10 Battalion are receiving route-clearance training. This type of training has been ongoing in Iraqi Army units for almost two years.
  • The first women graduated boot camp at a new training facility.  "Forty-Two Iraqi women became the first all-female graduating class from the Iraqi army's enlisted basic combat training course..."
  • The first Iraqi-led Inspector General Course graduated 17 personnel.  This is the fifth IG class but, the first class to be trained by Iraqis. 
  • The 1-35/9 completed "Warrior Training" on 25 November. According to the title of article, all of the line battalions in the 9th Armored Division have now gone through the Warrior Training battalion advanced refresure course.


Iraqi Navy


The second patrol ship arrived at Umm Qasr.   The Nasir (PS702) is the second of four ordered patrol ships to be delivered to the Iraqi Navy.  The remaining two are scheduled to be delivered by the summer of 2010.


A contract for two offshore support vessels is about to be awarded.   These vessels are to be delivered by the fall of 2011.  They are equipped to operate as command and support vessels supporting the Iraqi Navy’s patrol boats.


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force is gaining a Mirage F1 equipped attack squadron.   "Talabani's visit resulted in the signing defense agreements to train the Iraqi army and updated on 18 aircraft (Mirage F-1) and helicopters, and provide 300 scholarships..." No delivery date or further details have been reported.  These are Mirage aircraft sent to France for servicing in 1990.


The first successful Iraqi Air Force Hellfire target shoot was performed in November by a Cessna 208 ISR.  The third Cessna 208 capable of firing Hellfire was delivered in November.  The three Cessna 208 ISR and three armed Cessna 208 are assigned to the 3 Reconnaissance Squadron based at Kirkuk.


A new Iraqi Air Force squadron has been identified.  The 12 Cessna 172s and five Cessna 208s used by the Flight Training Wing for basic flight have been organized into the 1st Training Squadron.    


Ministry of Interior


The Ministry of Interior is possibly purchasing helicopters for a support squadron for the Department of Border Enforcement and Emergency Response Force (MoI Special Forces). The US Foreign Materials Sale notice is for:
  • 15 AgustaWestland AW109 Light Utility Observation helicopters, or alternatively, 15 Bell Model 429 Medical Evacuation and Aerial Observation helicopters, or 15 EADS North America UH-72A Lakota Light Utility helicopters; and,
  • 12 AgustaWestland AW139 Medium Utility helicopters, or alternatively, 12 Bell Model 412 Medium Utility helicopters, or 12 Sikorsky UH-60M BLACK HAWK.


The 15 observation helicopters are probably for DBE support and the 12 utility helicopters are probably for Emergency Response Force support.

The BBC published an article on Global Warming and CO2 emissions.  Buried towards the end is this little detail:

  • For the time period covering the last 1,500 years the CO2 record is from the Law Dome ice core, again in Antarctica. McFarling Meure et al, 2006 is the source. For the past 60 or so years the CO2 source is the readings taken at Mauna Loa by the NOAA.


I am not a scientist but, even I know that their will be a significant increase in CO2 readings from a site next to an active volcano as compared to an ice core reading that is not next to an active volcano.


Garbage In = Garbage Out.


(HT: Soldier's Dad)

baghdad pattern-nov09

Western Baghdad is the location of nomenclature and force composition oddities that indicate further Iraqi Army expansion.  Only two of the nine Iraqi Army brigades in western Baghdad are numbered and assigned in accordance with the standard brigade numbering system.  Those seven brigades are the only seven non-standard designations in the entire Iraqi Army. 


Western Baghdad current Iraqi Army forces:


Independent Brigades: 

  • 1st Presidential Brigade (3 battalions).  Presidential Division forming?
  • 2nd Presidential Brigade (2 battalions).  Presidential Division forming?
  • 56th Brigade [former Baghdad Brigade] (1 battalion).  This is a 15th Division brigade number.

6th Division: 

  • 22nd Brigade (5 battalions).
  • 24th Brigade (4 battalions).
  • 54th Brigade (4 battalions).  This is a 15th Division brigade number.

17th Division: 

  • 23rd Brigade (3 battalions).  This is a 6th Division brigade number.
  • 25th Brigade (3 battalions).  This is a 6th Division brigade number.
  • 55th Brigade (3 battalions).  This is a 15th Division brigade number. 


Based on standard Iraqi Army brigade numbering, the brigade’s designations indicate the formation of a Presidential Division and a 15th Division.  Per Iraqi Ministry of Defense order 151, Iraqi Army brigades are numbered consecutively skipping the number 13.  

  • 1st Division has 1st thru 4th Brigades;
  • 2nd Division has 5th thru 8th Brigades;
  • 3rd Division has 9th thru 12th Brigades;
  • 4th Division has 14th thru 17th Brigades;
  • 5th Division has 18th thru 21st Brigades;
  • 6th Division should have 22nd thru 25th Brigades, Instead it has the 22nd Brigade, 24th Brigade, and 54th Brigade;
  • 7th Division has 26th thru 29th Brigades;
  • 8th Division has 30th thru 33rd Brigades;
  • 9th Division has 34th thru 37th Brigades;
  • 10th Division has 38th thru 41st Brigades;
  • 11th Division has 42nd thru 45th Brigades;
  • 12th Division has 46th thru 49th Brigades;
  • 14th Division has 50th thru 53rd Brigades;
  • 15th Division is not formed but, should have 54th thru 57th Brigades; Instead the 54th Brigade is with 6th Division, 55th Brigade is with 17th Division, and 56th Brigade is independent.
  • 16th Division is not formed but, should have 58th thru 61st Brigades;
  • 17th Division should have  62nd thru 65th Brigades;, Instead it has the 23rd Brigade, 25th Brigade, and 55th Brigade;
  • 18th Division is not formed but, should have 66th thru 69th Brigades;
  • 19th Division is not formed but, should have 70th thru 73th Brigades;
  • 20th Division is not formed but, should have 74th thru 77th Brigades;
  • The Presidential brigades do not fit this standardized system.


Possible change in forces results in:

  • Presidential Division:  1st Presidential Brigade and 2nd Presidential Brigade combined only have five battalions.  Division Troops, two more brigade HQs, and seven more battalions would be needed to fill out this division.
  • 6th Division:  22nd Brigade and 24th Brigade have nine battalions.  Two brigade HQs and three battalions would be needed to fill out this division. 
  • 15th Division:  54th Brigade, 55th Brigade, and 56th Brigade have eight battalions.  Division Troops, one brigade HQ and four battalions would be needed to fill out this division.  
  • ·17th Division:  23rd Brigade and 25th Brigade have six total battalions and should be re-designated.  Two brigade HQs and six battalions would be needed to fill out this division.  There is unconfirmed reporting that this division is transferring south.  If correct, then only two brigade HQs and one battalion would be required as the over strength 8th Division would probably transfer its excess five battalions.


This indicates the planned formation of two divisions, seven brigades, and 15 battalions in the Baghdad Sector and the probable transfer of one of the existing divisions to the Mid-Euphrates Sector to fill the gap in forces there.


Two to three army divisions are the required force for the western half of Baghdad, yet there are indications of growth to four divisions.  This could be due to the large number of training facilities in the Baghdad area and at least one of the western Baghdad divisions [17th Division] appears to be transferring to the Mid-Euphrates Sector.  The 6th Division appears to be taking over the Abu Graib and Baghdad International Airport areas as the US reduces forces there.


In Maysan province, the 18th Division’s support structure continues to slowly form.  This adds another division, four brigades and 12 battalions to the currently forming Iraqi Army force structure.  This makes for a total of three divisions, 11 brigades, and 27 battalions in the process of being built.


From January 2007 to current, the Iraqi Army added 4 divisions, 21 brigades, and 69 battalions.  This indicates that the Iraqi Army has the capacity to complete the forces already identified as building as well as the projected 19th Division in Wassit by 2012, if budget priorities permit.   Combined with the planned transfer of two Peshmerga divisions, this would increase the Iraqi Army from its current 14 divisions to 20 divisions in 2012.



The Mid-Euphrates Sector of Iraq is the weakest security sector in Iraq.  This sector consists of Wassit, Qadisayah, Najaf, Karbala, and most of Babil Provinces.  This sector includes five of the 18 provinces in Iraq and borders with Iran and Saudi Arabia.  This is unusual since the Mid-Euphrates Sector includes the security problems of the regular pilgrimages to Karbala and Najaf, which require regular augments of substantial forces from Baghdad. 


The Iraqi Army has only one division in the Mid-Euphrates Sector (8th Division).  While the sector plans to gain another division (19th Division), this is not high on the priority list and is not expected to start to form until 2013.  The other six sectors have a minimum of two divisions and more planned:

  • Mosul Sector:  2nd and 3rd Divisions.
  • Ramadi Sector:  1st and 7th Divisions.
  • Baqubah-Kirkuk Sector:  4th, 5th, and 12th Divisions.
  • Baghdad Sector:  6th, 9th, 11th, and 17th Divisions.  Plus indications of an additional division.
  • Basrah Sector:  10th and 14th Divisions.  Plus an 18th Division forming support elements.
  • Kurdish Regional Government:  While the structure is not publically known, the 15th and 16th Divisions have been pending transfer to the Iraqi Army for two years.


While there are no Iraqi Air Force squadrons or air detachments in this sector, Kut Air Base is being built up in preparation of receiving a Mi17 equipped element.


The Ministry of Interior paramilitary forces there are also small.  The Federal Police recently commissioned a new brigade in Wassit Province, but that was a transfer and retraining of the existing Wassit Emergency Police Brigade, not an augment. 


The Provincial Emergency Police Brigades in the Mid-Euphrates are the five of the six smallest in Iraq.  Most provinces have a minimum of three times as many Emergency Police or Federal Police “nationalized” Emergency Police as the Mid-Euphrates Provinces.


Likewise, the Iraqi Special Forces in the Mid-Euphrates Sector are only two Ministry of Interior “nationalized” provincial SWAT battalions transferred to the Emergency Response Brigade.  This represents an improvement in training and a re-subordination of existing components of the under strength provincial emergency police. 


There is no Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) assigned to the Mid-Euphrates Sector.  While there are plans to form a “Strike Team” for the Karbala Operational Command, this is two to three years in the future,  The only other sector that does not have an ISOF presence is the Kurdish Region and the Kurdish Regional Guards are known to have its own special operations forces component.   There are no ISOF based between Baghdad and Basrah.  This is the largest geographical separation in ISOF basing in Iraq.


The current priority for increases in security forces appear to be just to the north (in Baghdad Sector) and just to the south in Maysan (Basrah Sector).  It is possible that the expansion of Iraqi Army forces in western Baghdad is in preparation for a transfer of forces from Baghdad but, there are no indications supporting this possibility.


Given the location, population, and borders, combined with the constant requirements to reinforce Najaf and Karbala for pilgrimages, this weakness in the Mid-Euphrates Sector is abnormal.   The low priority in correcting this weakness is also unusual.   All of the Iraqi Security Force services appear to be minimizing their presence and priorities in this region. 

This is a summary of significant items concerning Iraqi Security Force (ISF) Developments reported in the September 2009 Quarterly Report to Congress:  Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq released 13 November 2009.  Author’s comments and analysis is in italics.  This report’s data is dated 31 August 2009 and there are changes since then.   This report is also the unclassified version and thus excludes Iraqi classified data.


The budget issues and legislative delays continue to impact Iraqi Security Force development.   Limited funds, the resulting hiring freeze and competition for resources exacerbated services cooperation.  More recent developments than the information in this Quarterly Report indicate several of those issues have been resolved.  [E.G.:  Kurdish forces entering Federal Police training and the new Joint Army/Federal Police Special Forces “Strike Teams” forming in October 2009.] 


Iraqi Army (IA)


The number of IA combat battalions continued to increase.  “As of June 2009, there are 189 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as six Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) battalions.“  This increase represents a reorganization of forces.  The hiring freeze prevented the increase of personnel.  Prior to October 2008, combat battalions were authorized to be manned at 120-135 percent.  Those excess personnel were transferred to form new battalions after the Prime Minister reduced that manning authorization to 100 percent.  The good news is that these new battalions are built with experienced personnel, not green troops just out of bootcamp.


The Baghdad Brigade, responsible for International Zone security has been re-designated the 56th Brigade.  This probably means that a new division is being established in Baghdad.  Based on the brigade numbering system, the new division will be the 15th Division and will draw a brigade each from the 6th Division and 17th Division [54/6 Brigade and 55/17 Brigade]. This also probably means the planned Kurdish manned 15th Mountain Division will be re-designated.


“The near-term effect of MoD [Ministry of Defense] budgetary and manning constraints was a significant shift to the right of the original 2009 USF [Unit Set Fielding] schedule. The 12th Division Military Police Company and the 11th Field Engineering Regiment completed USF in July 2009.  Several units have been, or are in the process of being, validated by the M7 training directorate of the JHQ [Joint Headquarters]. These units are expected to execute USF in the August and September 2009 timeframe. Recent discussions with the IGFC [Iraqi Ground Forces Command] G3/7 and G4 [IGFC operations, planning, and logistics staff] indicate the Division Field Workshops [maintenance battalions] will likely become the IA priority units to go through the validation process and execute USF. This shift in priorities indicates the IA’s recognition of shortfalls in maintenance and supply capabilities.”  Most of the maintenance battalions are at company strength.  The steady increase in vehicles will and has put a further strain on an underdeveloped maintenance structure.


Medical support is still a major problem throughout the ISF.  “As of June 2009, the MoD [Ministry of Defense] is staffed at 14% overall and 7% in the divisional units for physicians. The main reasons for the shortage are an overall lack of providers in Iraq (50% of pre-war levels), 15% lower pay than in the MoH [Ministry of Health], difficulty in recruiting personnel to remote assignments, limited opportunities for specialty training, and inability to conduct after hours services for supplemental income. The Minister of Defense asked the Prime Minister to increase Iraqi physician bonuses from $518 to $863 per month as a stopgap measure until the Law of Military Service and Retirement is passed.”  This is going to take a decade or more to correct.  Medical training is a long training pipeline and is an expensive problem.


Iraqi Air Force (IqAF)


The development of the Iraqi Air Force’s training base continues.  “In addition, the IqAF has identified an advance team that will move to Tikrit and begin planning the beddown of T-6A aircraft and the move of the IqAF Officer’s College. These two initial moves will lay the groundwork for making Tikrit the primary IqAF training base. U.S. turnover of key infrastructure, including aircraft parking ramps, hangars, and dormitories is critical to growth, but the IqAF has limited capability to conduct infrastructure maintenance; U.S. advisors are helping by creating training programs for engineers.”  Iraqi Air Force training is currently split between Rustimiyah, Taji, and Kirkuk.  This consolidation will facilitate training.  Lack of engineer support will be a problem delaying the development of new air bases.


Iraq does not have the capacity to track aircraft in its own airspace, let alone the ability to control it.  “As part of the SA between the United States and the GoI, Iraq assumed control of all of its sovereign airspace. Within the agreement, the GoI requested assistance from the United States to monitor and control airspace below 24,000 feet until the GoI has the infrastructure and capability to assume control of all of its airspace. An Airspace Transition Plan was developed and signed by all parties to incrementally transfer control of the airspace to the Iraq as the required infrastructure and certified controllers are developed. To date, the lack of investment and an antiquated acquisition and procurement process have impeded the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority from moving forward. No additional transfer of airspace control is expected until the fall of 2010.”  Iraq has no capability to control its airspace even if they had the radars to track movements through their airspace.  Speculation is rampant but, no contracts or donations of real air defense enforcement capabilities [fighters/SAMs] have occurred.


Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS)


Legislative delays continue to delay development of the CTS.  “The INCTF [Iraqi National Counter Terrorism Task Force] is headed by the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), formerly known as the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, and includes the Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC) and two ISOF Brigades. Under Prime Minister Directive 61, signed in April 2007, the INCTF is independent of both the MoD [Ministry of Defense] and MoI [Ministry of Interior]. The CTS law still awaits CoR [Council of Representatives] approval to establish the CTS as a separate agency, formalizing the ministerial-level position of the CTS Director and providing for appropriations and funding.  The proposed CTS law, officially entitled the Law of Counter-terrorism Mechanism, initially submitted in September 2008 and returned to the CoM [Council of Ministers], had its first reading in the CoR in July 2009. Up to three readings may be required by the CoR before it is submitted for a vote. The CoR’s delay in addressing the CTS Law makes the Prime Minister’s ability to fund CTS problematic and is impacting maintenance and sustainment programs in the CTS.”   There is strong resistance in the CoR to this service.  The service is looked at as a praetorian force and reminds them of the Republican Guard.  More recent events, such as the formation of joint “Strike Teams” indicate some of this resistance has been overcome.


“An ongoing initiative to identify Iraqi soldiers for the Assessment and Selection Course is coming to fruition; the CTS has commenced visits to IA divisions to identify soldiers to attend the Assessment and Selection Course.  This influx of soldiers will be sufficient to fully man the commando battalions in the 1st and 2nd ISOF [Iraqi Special Operations Force] Brigades to full operational capability. The time required to assess, train, equip, and integrate new ISOF soldiers into the force is approximately nine months from the time the MoD provides soldiers to INCTF for the Assessment and Selection Course to the time when these units reach manning FOC [full operational capability]. ISWCS [Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School] continues to encounter difficulties in obtaining support from the MoD for ammunition, equipment, and pay for the trainees, resulting in postponement or cancellation of courses.”  No significant changes in ISOF in this report compared to the June 2009 report.  More recent changes indicate this logjam in personnel transfers has been corrected.


Iraqi Federal Police (FP)


Funding and the hiring freeze has delayed the Federal Police’s expansion and support development.  “The MoI began fielding a FP sustainment brigade in October 2008, which is preparing for a move to Salmann Pak to boost the Sustainment Brigade’s capabilities. Once complete, this unit will be able to provide support to the three formed divisions, the 4th FP Division currently in force generation, and the 5th FP Division to be formed in the future. Due to the hiring freeze within the GoI, the logistics battalions organic to the 1st, 3rd, and 4th FP Divisions have not formed. Only the 2nd FP Division has formed a logistics battalion. U.S. forces are advising the FP to put a higher priority on the logistics battalions so that they may be filled once the hiring freeze is lifted.”


“The hiring freeze is delaying the ability of the FP to move forward with their transformation plan. The FP currently have limited ability to staff the newly-formed 4th Division beyond a cadre force of varying strength, and they will struggle to build the new special security unit. There is an agreement within the MoI to transfer eight Emergency Response Units from the provincial IPs, along with 5,000 IPs and 890 FPS, to the FP at a future date. Once this occurs and these forces are vetted and trained to FP standards, the FP will significantly improve its ability to move forward with transformation plans.”  The special security unit is the security forces for the central bank, antiquities, and embassies.  The eight ERUs are starting to transfer to the FP’s 4th Division from the southern provinces of Maysan, Dhi Qar, and Wassit.


“The FP wants to recruit and train to complete formation of the new 3rd and 4th Division units. However, MoI budget shortfalls for 2009 will limit the FP’s ability to hire, train, and equip the personnel required to reach the desired end strength.”  The nationalized ERU battalions require training and the funding.  Federal Police are on a higher pay scale than the provincial police.


“The 3rd Division, with four brigades assigned, has expanded to provide a presence in Diyala, Mosul, Salah ad Din, and Anbar. The 4th Division, with one operational Brigade and two Brigades in force generation, has a presence in Wasit, Maysan, and Baghdad [error:  Basrah]. The FP continues to have success in recruiting across most of Iraq’s ethnic and religious sects in each province, except in the KRG pending a Memorandum of Agreement and lifting of the hiring freeze.  The first 40 KRG FP started Carabinarie training in October 2009 and the hiring freeze has lifted.


Department of Border Enforcement (DBE)


“With the financial support of U.S. forces and through advisor teams, three of the five DBE regional maintenance facilities have achieved an initial operational capability.”  Emphasis on DBE support elements is increasing as the backlog of basic training is completed.


“The DBE is organized into five regions, with 13 brigades and 51 battalions, in addition to the Coastal Border Guard, which is under the command of Region 4 located in Basrah. There are 7 DBE battalions that are mobile commando battalions under the command of the regional commanders. Although the DBE is currently authorized approximately 45,500 personnel by the MoI, the force is envisioned to expand to more than 60,000 by 2012.”  An eighth mobile “commando” battalion has been identified.  The expansion to 60,000 indicates the five regions will be expanded to four brigades each.


Oil Police


“The Oil Police (OP) is responsible for protecting all GoI oil production infrastructure, including oil fields, pipelines, refineries, convoys, and retail stations, which are located in both remote and urban areas throughout Iraq.  The OP has 47 battalions with personnel strengths that vary depending on the location and priority of resource being protected. The MoI OP are scheduled to assume full responsibility for this mission in late 2010. The IA presently guards four major sections of pipeline throughout Iraq, including three critical PEZs [Pipeline exclusion zones]. The OP are developing four Mobile Emergency Battalions to execute an emergency response mission capability but still lack required basic equipment. The MoI and the OP are acquiring $33 million worth of vehicles, communications gear, and other specialty equipment to fill shortfalls.”  Probable typo.  OP was only building to 27 battalions in 2012.  A request for information was submitted to MNF-I.  Current force was previously reported as only 17 battalions.


Facilities Protection Service


“If the FPS Reform Law is passed by the CoR, the GoI will consolidate all FPS within the MoI, except forces currently detailed to the MoO and MoE, as well as the HJC. The law still lingers between the CoM and the CoR, and no movement is expected in the near future.”  There is strong resistance to this consolidation of FPS from the 27 ministries and independent departments as well as CoR.  The removal of these personnel and their budget reduces their power and ability to politicize these forces.


The Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is still organized and configured as reported in June.  However, it appears that the ISOF is starting to form eight light armored special forces battalions.  The integration of Federal Police elements into the Counter Terrorism Service also appears to be starting.


Internal security is not the primary function of the Iraqi Army.  Internal security is the primary role of the Federal Police.  It is also the primary role for the Counter Terrorism Service.  Their secondary role is support of the Iraqi Army against external threats.


In late 2007, Prime Minister Maliki announced plans for eight “elite” quick reaction force (QRF) battalions in the Iraqi Army.  These battalions were to be equipped with the most modern light armor and used for counter-insurgency.   At that time ISOF was a component of the Iraqi Army.  ISOF and its parent Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC) transferred to the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) in 2008.


During the same time-period, eight battalions worth of BTR-3E1 armored personnel carriers were ordered via US Foreign Military Sales.  The BTR-3E1s were cancelled in 2008 before delivery.  However, the counter-insurgency requirement for eight battalions of light armored vehicles [like the BTR-3E1] remained.


Also, the QRF battalions were not formed.  Those personnel were needed as experienced cadre for the rapidly expanding Iraqi Army:  The “Real Surge” from 10 Iraqi Army divisions with 35 subordinate brigades to the current 14 divisions with 57 brigades.


In October 2009, the first reports that those planned “elite” QRF battalions were finally starting to form was released.


The graduation of the first company of the Karkh Area Command Strike Team was the start of a new type of battalion in the Iraqi Security Forces.  Troops from six different units formed the new team, training together for six weeks.  Photography of the graduation illustrated that this forming “Special Forces” battalion is a mixed Iraqi Army and Federal Police joint unit.  The photography also illustrated that the first company has a DZIK3 and robot EOD component.  This is the first class of a battalion team that will number over 400 personnel.  The battalion will be responsible for quick response operations in Baghdad west of the Tigris River.


Since Iraq is building a “Strike Team” [battalion] for the Karkh Area Command, then they are also building one for the Rusafa Area Command and for the other six operational commands.  This is the start of forming eight joint “elite” special forces battalions.  

  1. Baghdad Operational Command’s Karkh Area Command (KAC Strike Team forming).
  2. Baghdad Operational Command’s Rusafa Area Command.
  3. Anbar Operational Command headquartered at Ramadi.
  4. Basrah Operational Command headquartered at Basrah.
  5. Diyala Operational Command headquartered at Baqubah.
  6. Karbala Operational Command headquartered at Karbala.
  7. Ninawa Operational Command headquartered at Mosul.
  8. Samarra Operational Command headquartered at Samarra.


The new battalions are to be equipped with light armor.  Based on the manning of the BTR-3E1 type vehicles originally ordered, with support and headquarters elements, that is a total of approximately 450 personnel per battalion. 


When you plot the planned eight QRF battalions with the existing ISOF combat battalions, a pattern of forces emerges:

Baghdad Operational Command (BOC) AOR

  • 2nd ICTF Battalion/ISOF

Karkh Area Command/BOC

  • 1st Commando Battalion/ISOF
  • Karkh Area Command Strike Team (Battalion-first co formed)

Rusafa Area Command/BOC

  • 5th Reconnaisance Battalion/ISOF
  • Rusafa Area Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Basrah Operational Command AOR

  • 6th Commando Battalion/ISOF
  • Basrah Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Ninawa Operational Command AOR

  • 7th Commando Battalion/ISOF
  • Ninawa Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Diyala Operational Command AOR

  • 8th Commando Battalion/ISOF
  • Diyala Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Anbar Operational Command AOR

  • 9th Commando Battalion/ISOF
  • Anbar Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Samarra Operational Command AOR

  • Samarra Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)

Karbala Operational Command AOR

  • Karbala Operational Command Strike Team (Battalion-planned)


ISOF has been expected to reach divisional strength with a minimum of five regional brigades since they started forming regional commando battalions and transferred to the CTS.  ISOF normally operates like US and UK SOF:  Partnered battalions with air support.  One of the battalion is used for perimeter security and another for the close-quarters raid.  The new forming and planned light armored vehicle equipped strike teams fill the role of perimeter security.  The existing ISOF battalions fill the close-quarters assault role.  Samarra’s and Karbala’s planned strike teams are close enough to be supported by the 2nd ICTF Battalion and air from Baghdad as needed.


The addition of Federal Police to the CTS provides arrest authority to the field units when the state of emergency legislation lapses.


The planned structure of the CTS subordinate CTC’s field battalions and brigades is becoming apparent.  Seven [possibly as many as nine] brigades with a mix of [at least] seven ISOF and eight Strike Team battalions supported by at least five Mi-17 equipped special operations squadrons.  It is possible that there will be up to three additional commando battalions formed for Baghdad, Samarra, and Karbala to partner with the new strike teams. 



This Iraqi Security Force Update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during October 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as of 31 October 2009 is published at Montrose Toast.


Joint Special Forces Strike Teams [Battalions]


In late 2007, Prime Minister Maliki announced plans for “elite” quick reaction force (QRF) battalions in the Iraqi Army.  These battalions were to be equipped with the most modern light armor and used for counter-insurgency. 


During the same time-period, eight battalions worth [336] of BTR-3E1 armored personnel carriers were ordered via US Foreign Military Sales.  The BTR-3E1s were cancelled in 2008 before delivery.  However, the counter-insurgency requirement for eight battalions of light armored vehicles [like the BTR-3E1] remained. 


Also, the QRF battalions were not formed.  Those personnel were needed as experienced cadre for the rapidly expanding Iraqi Army:  The “Real Surge” from 10 Iraqi Army divisions with 35 subordinate brigades to the current 14 divisions with 57 brigades. 


In October 2009, the first reports that those planned “elite” QRF battalions were finally starting to form was released.


The graduation of the first company of the Karkh Area Command Strike Team was the start of a new type of battalion in the Iraqi Security Forces.  Troops from six different units formed the new team, training together for six weeks.  Photography of the graduation illustrated that this forming “Special Forces” battalion is a mixed Iraqi Army and Federal Police joint unit.  The photography also illustrated that the first company has a DZIK3 and robot EOD component.  This is the first class of a battalion team that will number over 400 personnel.  The battalion will be responsible for all quick response operations in Baghdad west of the Tigris River.


There are also reports of a Russian arms sale to Iraq.  One such unconfirmed report includes plans for 360 Russian armored personnel carriers.  The BTR-3E1 is Ukrainian but, the Iraqis have regularly referred to Ukraine as Russia.  Also, the order could be for a Russian BTR-90 variant similar to the Ukrainian BTR-3E1.   


Since Iraq is building a “Strike Team” [battalion] for the Karkh Area Command, then they are also building one for the Rusafa Area Command and for the other six operational commands.  This is the start of forming eight joint “elite” special forces battalions.  

  1. Baghdad Operational Command’s Karkh Area Command (KAC Strike Team forming).
  2. Baghdad Operational Command’s Rusafa Area Command.
  3. Anbar Operational Command headquartered at Ramadi.
  4. Basrah Operational Command headquartered at Basrah.
  5. Diyala Operational Command headquartered at Baqubah.
  6. Karbala Operational Command headquartered at Karbala.
  7. Ninawa Operational Command headquartered at Mosul.
  8. Samarra Operational Command headquartered at Samarra.


The order of 360 BTRs would equate to 45 per battalion.  Based on the manning of BTR-3E1 type vehicles, that equates to just over 400 personnel.  With support and headquarters elements added in, that is a total of approximately 450 personnel.


Internal security is not the primary function of the Iraqi Army.  Internal security is the primary role of the Federal Police.  If the BTR-3E1 type vehicle order is back, and they are to be used for these joint battalions, then it explains why they are joint battalions.  The Federal Police do not have sufficient experienced trained personnel in using BTR-type armor.  The Iraqi Army has the 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade, which is currently equipped with BTR-80s and has US Special Forces and Stryker training.  The Iraqi Army could be providing the vehicle crews while the Federal Police provide the SWAT-trained teams.


It is also possible that these formations could be the start of the formation of the 5th Federal Police Mechanized Division that is to be headquartered in Diwaniyah.  The eight Separate Lt Mechanized (SF) Battalions plus the 1st Federal Police Mechanized Brigade’s four battalions could be the planned start of building this internal security mechanized division.  If this is the case, expect the transfer the 1st Federal Police Mech Brigade to Diwaniyah after the other eight QRF battalions form.  There is a major gap in force coverage between Karbala and Basrah Operational Commands from an internal security perspective.  Basing at Diwaniyah would cover that gap.


Iraqi Ministry of Defense      


In an October interview, Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majeed [IGFC] noted that “while the original plan had called for a total of 17 mechanized battalions to be ready by the end of 2011, only 10 will now be available.”  These numbers reflect the planned new or converted formations to be built in 2010/2011, not the total Iraqi Army force.  The order for eight battalions of BTR-3E1s [336] was cancelled in 2008 and a replacement order for that requirement would be unlikely to start delivering until late 2011.  The order for nine battalions of M1126 Strykers [400] was changed to 271 [6 battalions] with an option for 129 more [3 battalions], with the total order of Strykers to be delivered by November 2011, if the option is executed.  This indicates that the general expects the first part of the replacement order for the cancelled BTR-3E1s to be delivered by the end of 2011.


Officer training continues with "383 new lieutenants starting the Infantry Officer Basic Course at the Kirkush Military Training Base here Oct. 4. This is the largest class ever to go through training in the Iraqi army."  Kirkush also graduated 24 Iraqi army captains from the first company commanders course at the infantry officer school at Kirkush Training Center on 21 October 2009. 


During October, there were several reports of the "14th Provisional Transport Regiment" indicating the 14 Motor Transport Regiment was being broken up.  This was addressed in a separate article concerning the upgrade of the 14th Division to mechanized.


Mortar training continues throughout the Iraqi Army.  One report from the Army Times indicates that 25 of MNSTC-I’s 20 planned 2009 mortar platoons [81mm battalion mortar batteries] are training.  The  27/7 Brigade performed a capabilities exercise on 20 October that included mortars.  The 1-15/4 Battalion appears to be reconfiguring from engineering route clearance to brigade field artillery starting with training on 120mm mortars.  The 33/8 Brigade was identified as the twelfth of MNSTC-I’s 10 planned 120mm batteries to be formed in 2009.


The first mention of mortar upgrades to 6th Division and the length/class size of one of the six Iraqi Army training sites for mortars was provided in this report:


"One hundred and six soldiers from the 6th and 8th Iraq Army divisions combined to conduct a live-fire exercise at the An Numaniyah Multi-Purpose Range Complex Oct. 22.  The live-fire exercise is the culminating event of an intensive 21-week course in 81mm mortar training. The 81mm mortar course is a premier training opportunity for the Iraqi security forces and has the personal attention of the Iraqi Minister of Defense. In recognition of the effectiveness of this course enrollment has tripled from 40 soldiers per cycle to 120 soldiers per cycle.” 


At least elements of the 53/14 Brigade are field-training in Nasariyah with the US 1-77 Armored Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.  This is unusual since the Iraqi Army’s 14th Division has its own training center at Shaibah.  Either Shaibah is overloaded for training or does not have the type of training needed.  The 14th Division is planned to become mechanized and the US forces in Basrah are primarily the 17th Fires Brigade [field artillery], not mechanized/armored.


The second of four Saettia class Offshore Patrol Vessel was delivered to the Iraqi Navy.  The "Nasir" is expected to arrive in Iraq in December.   


The first of the T-6A trainers ordered by Iraq are to be delivered in 2009.  The Iraqi Air force received six new US-made aircraft in Kirkuk.  While one report indicated these aircraft were helicopters, that report is probably a mis-translation.  The remaining six Cessna 172s of the 18 ordered [option for 10 more] are probably what was delivered.  Cessna 172s are used for basic flight training at Kirkuk. 


A training job offer in Iraq on Huey IIs indicates that 2nd Squadron may be transferring to flight training duties in Tikrit.  Alternatively the Iraqi Air force may be getting more Huey II helicopters.  Currently the 2nd Squadron flies 16 Huey IIs in SAR/Medevac role out of Taji.


The beginnings of a national air traffic control system are being formed.  The latest part of the  system was for Kirkuk.   All of the sites for these systems have been joint civil-military airfields to date, indicating a dual-use role for these systems.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior  


The tenth Phase III Federal Police graduation occurred in October.  There were 798 graduates but, the two Federal Police Battalions were not identified.  Of particular note:  "The next class convenes Oct. 10 with 40 Kurdish trainees scheduled to participate in the training course."  This will be the first Kurds in Phase III Caribinarie training and is probably to train-the-trainers for Kurdish force integration.  That means the first Kurdish Federal Police Battalion will start Carabinarie training in December 2009 or February 2010.    


Route-clearance training continues throughout the Iraqi Security Forces.   The Mosul Federal Police Brigade started route-clearance training in October. 


During October, there was a first mention of a "5th Brigade of the Emergency Police" in Maysan.   This numbering indicates the Maysan Emergency Police is starting to be absorbed, retrained, and re-designated as part of the Federal Police.  There will probably more than one brigade in Maysan given their excessive Emergency Police battalion count. 


A new unit, the "Hawijah Emergency Services Unit” was mentioned  in Kirkuk Province indicating the Kirkuk Emergency Police is a minimum of four battalions strong. 


The  3-11 Battalion of the Department of Border Enforcement was reported in Maysan.  That is the second battalion of the 11th Brigade reported in Maysan vice operating in their normal Muthanna location.  There has been no recent reporting of 9th Brigade in Maysan.  The DBE may have swapped Brigades as part of the purge of Maysan Police Forces or the 11th Brigade may be augmenting Maysan.   


Planned Iraqi Arms Purchases?  [Probably obsolete reporting claiming to be new.]


There is a new unconfirmed report of planned Iraqi arms purchases.  The report reads like old data from pre-2007 purchasing plans but, could represent follow-up purchases.   


The article’s obvious errors and political hyperbole combined with lack of confirmation from any other source makes this data questionable.  [E.G. Iraq does not have 11 C-130A, Iraq has three C-130E and has ordered six C-130Js.  Likewise the numbers of other aircraft currently in the Iraqi Air Force are grossly inaccurate.]   


Anytime an article quotes an “informed source”, that is within the government, and “on condition of anonymity”, the data should be treated as dubious at best. 


The article states that these orders are to go through US FMS which means there should be new notices posted if these are new orders.   There are not.

  • The mention of “transactions to buy Russian armoured personnel carriers and tanks,” could be old 2005-2009 speculation [fanned by Defense Solutions].  Or it could be references to the 77 Hungarian T72s donated and delivered in 2005, the 70 Slovakian T72s donated and pending delivery,  the 98 BTR80s delivered in 2006, the planned but cancelled 336 BTR-3E1 in 2008, and/or the over 300 Hellenic Army [Former DDR] BMP1s donated or bought and delivered in the 2005-2008 time-period.
  • The “French and Russian vertical takeoff and landing aircraft” could be the existing orders for 24 French EC635 [option for 26 more] and 22 Russian Mi17v5 helicopters, previous orders/negotiations, or new orders.  The Iraqis are expected to order two more squadrons of Mi17 helicopters for the aircrew it has already trained.  The lack of mention of the existing two squadrons of Mi-17s tends to support old data.
  • The “Italian war service boats” could be the already delivering four Patrol Ships.
  • The "two F16 squadrons and one F18 squadron" could be old 2006-2007 speculation.
  • The “440 American armoured personnel carriers” probably is the M1126 Stryker order for 271 APCs with an option for 129 more [400 total].  Or it could be a follow-on order planned.  The Stryker is planned to be the primary APC for the Iraqi Army.
  • The “360 Russian armoured personnel carriers” could be an old report of the cancelled BTR-3E1 order or the already delivered Hellenic Army [former DDR] BMP1s. 
  • The “60 Polish armoured personnel carriers” could be an old replacement vehicle order for DZIK3 light APCs used by Iraqi Army Military Police and EOD units.  Originally, 600 DZIK3s were ordered and those have been delivered since 2008.  This could be an old data point with a typo in the number [600 vice 60]. 
  • The “35 Brazilian Cascavel armoured personnel carriers” could be the 35 EE-9 Cascavel 90mm-gun armed Scout Cars that were delivered to the Iraqi Army 4-37/9 Reconnaissance Battalion in January 2008.  Or it could be an additional order for a new battalion however; those vehicles are no longer produced.  Any new order would be for refitted used vehicles.


There is no mention of the more than 700 ILAV Badgers, 24 armed Bell 407 helicopters [option for 26 more], 140 M1A1 tanks [option for 140 more], or over 8,500 uparmored HMMWVs in this reporting.  The data points fit for pre-2007 speculation and plans.  Barring legitimate confirmation that these are new orders and plans [E.G. new FMS notices], this report will be disregarded as obsolete information in the Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle.

There have been significant changes in the reporting on the Iraqi Army's 14th Motorized Division in Basrah province.  These changes indicate the 14th Division is the first to get armored battalions transferred from 9th Armored Division as the 9th upgrades to M1A1 armored battalions.


The 14th Motor Transport Regiment is now being called a “Provisional Transport Regiment”.  This indicates the MTR is being broken up to form brigade support battalions.  The only heavy division in the Iraqi Army [9th Armored Division] does not have an MTR.  Instead it has four brigade support battalions.  This conversion of the 14th MTR means the conversion of the 14th Motorized Division to mechanized is already in progress and that it will be more than one brigade of the 14th upgrading in the next year. 


The 52nd Brigade of 14th Division has been reported as a “Navy Brigade” which indicates some or all of the battalions of the brigade are transferring to the Iraqi Marines soon.  Those battalions will be replaced with 9th Division armor battalions and probably the two battalions of NATO donated T72 tanks.  The 52nd Brigade is probably converting to an armored brigade and losing two of its four battalions of infantry to the Marines in the process. 


The 36th Armored Brigade of 9th Armored Division is the first to upgrade to M1A1 tanks.  The new 5-36/9 Armored Battalion received its third company of M1A1s in August 2009.  This replaces the Basrah deployed T55 tank equipped 1-36/9 Armored Battalion.  The 1-36/9 will re-designate and become a permanent part of 14th Division instead of a temporary attachment.


By the end of 2009, three more companies of M1A1 tanks will be fielded, filling out a new M1A1 equipped armored battalion.  Also 70 NATO donated T72s will arrive, providing tanks for two more T72 equipped armored battalions.  To provide the mechanized companies for those new M1A1 and T72 battalions, the BMP1 equipped 2-36/9 “Tank” Battalion will trade three of its four BMP1 companies for M1A1s.


These trades in the 9th Armored Division minimizes the impact of the upgrade and transfers to the 36th Armored Brigade by reconfiguring it to two M1A1/BMP1 equipped armored battalions and an M113 equipped mechanized reconnaissance battalion.

  • 1-36/9 Armored Battalion [T55/BMP1] transferred to 14th Division.
  • 2-36/9 “Tank” Battalion [BMP1] detaches three of its four companies to help form 5-36/9 Armored Battalion and two [T72-equipped] armored battalions in 14th Division.  Those companies are replaced with M1A1s, converting to 2-36/9 Armored Battalion [M1A1/BMP1].
  • 3-36/9 Armored Cavalry Battalion [T72/BMP1] transfers to 14th Division.
  • 4-36/9 Mechanized Reconnaissance Battalion [M113] remains in 36th Armored Brigade.
  • 5-36/9 Armored Battalion [Forming/training:  M1A1/BMP1] remains in 36th Armored Brigade.


That means that the 9th Armored Division’s 36th Armored Brigade only loses a BMP1 battalion while trading two T55/T72 equipped battalions for two M1A1 equipped armored battalions.


The 14th Division trades four infantry battalions for one T55/BMP1 equipped and three T72/BMP1 equipped armored battalions.


The Iraqi Marines gain two infantry battalions, doubling their strength.


Personnel for the NATO donated T72 battalions and filling out the brigade support battalions will probably be drawn from the 52nd Brigade’s other two infantry battalions.


While this still leaves the 14th Motorized Division’s infantry components mounted on DZIK3 light armored personnel carriers and trucks [including HMMWVs], it does provide the tank components and the brigade support battalions for the re-designation to mechanized division in early 2010, possibly before the end of 2009.  When the M1126 Strykers start arriving, the upgrade of the infantry components will probably start.


This will leave the remaining one T55 equipped and three T72 equipped armored battalions in 9th Armored Division to trade for M1A1s.  In 2010, the 34/9 Armored Brigade will probably start converting since it has the remaining T55 equipped armored battalion and the remaining BMP1 equipped “tank” battalion.  The 36/9 Armored Brigade will probably start trading its T72s for M1A1s in late-2010.  The 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade will start conversion when the M1126 Strykers start to arrive [no schedule yet].  The 37/9 Brigade is currently equipped with BTR80 APCs and EE-9 Scout Cars which are probably transferring to 53/14 Brigade as the 37/9 receives its Strykers.  The 37/9 Brigade has been receiving training and familiarization with US Strykers.


The candidates for the remaining tanks from the 9th Armored Division will probably start receiving the 34/9 Armored Brigade’s tanks in 2010.  The method of conversion of the 36/9 Armored Brigade indicates the Iraqi Army is going with using the armor from 9th Armored Division to build two mechanized divisions rather than separate brigades.  However, that could be just a special case for the 14th Motorized Division due to its strategic location.  The candidates for upgrade starting in 2010 are [in order of probability]:

  • The 5th Motorized Division in Diyala province,
  • The 3rd Motorized Division in Ninawa province,
  • The planned 18th Division to form in Maysan province,
  • The 7th Motorized Division [Quick Intervention Corps] in Anbar province,
  • The 11th Motorized Division in east Baghdad, and/or
  • The building Presidential and Baghdad Brigades in Baghdad.


This changes part of the previous estimate of the redistribution plan of the Iraqi 9th Armored Division's armor.   The previous estimate projected an upgrade of only one brigade of the 14th Motorized Division to armored in the near future.  If the 14th Motorized Division is being fully upgraded to mechanized, then that means a reduction in the projected distribution of the armor to other divisions.   The strategic location of the 14th Motorized Division in Basrah, covering the primary export route of Iraq’s oil, supports this mechanized upgrade.   This also means that some of the other likely candidates for upgrade to mechanized or armored are not getting that older armor from 9th Armored Division.

The Iraqi Army appears to be reconfiguring to a modular brigade organization.  This has tactical and operational advantages but, requires increased support forces.


The advantages of the traditional structure are in divisional control of support assets and centralized logistics.  This allows for rapid concentration of those assets to key areas.  This concentration also makes it easier to train and support those specialty battalions.  The disadvantage of the traditional organization is that it requires effective divisional allocation of those support units for the subordinate brigades to be effective in the field.  This puts the decision level at division and can delay or preclude effective brigade level operations until the division responds.


The advantage of modular brigade-centric organization is that the traditionally divisional assets are assigned to the brigades and battalions.  This allows the brigades and battalions to quickly respond to most situations without requesting divisional assets.  The brigades are effectively able to operate independently and quickly most of the time.  The weakness is that concentration of support assets [E.G. Engineers] requires the division to borrow from the brigades to reinforce the key area and can delay operations requiring more support than normal while the dispersed elements are concentrated.  Additional support troops in the overall division are also required so that each of the brigades has the minimum mission effective-sized support forces.  Training is also more difficult since the specialty troops are dispersed through the division.


Countries with centralized command and control concentrate support elements at the division-level or above to help ensure control of the force.  This is especially true in dictatorships and countries with high threat of military coup.  By centralizing those required assets, they make it more difficult for the forces to effectively rebel.


When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the US Army and the Iraqi Army were organized along traditional division-centric lines.  The US Army had spent decades in garrison with the Red Army as the principle planned opponent.  There is a tendency for conventional militaries to mirror the enemy.  This meant that the line battalions and the combat brigades required support assets from the division level and required task organization for any employment.  Support element like engineers, logistics, and reconnaissance were division subordinate. 


As a part of the lessons learned from 2001-2003’s operations, the US Army was reorganized into a modular brigade-centric organization which makes the brigades more independent.   The new Iraqi Army was mostly built on more traditional lines with the support arms under the division.  The exceptions in the Iraqi Army were the 9th Armored Division and the Iraqi Special Operations Force.


The new Iraqi Army used the 9th Armored Division and the Iraqi Special Operations Force to test the modular brigade concept against the more traditional divisional organization that the rest of the army was built on.  This year, the Iraqis have started reorganizing their traditional divisions on modular brigade lines similar to the 9th Armored Division’s.

  • After six months of the Iraqi Assistance Group bragging about the 12 divisional “Commando” [Reconnaissance] Battalions they helped form, those divisional assets are being broke up to augment the brigades.  The “Commandos” will probably be used as reconnaissance/field observer elements in the brigade field artillery battalions.
  • Five Iraqi Army divisions had a battalion each equipped with ILAV Badgers for route-clearance duties in 2007 and 2008.  After that, the Iraqi Army formed an ILAV replacement float and then started forming ILAV equipped route-clearance platoons in the battalions of the remaining divisions.  One of those five ILAV battalions is now being reconfigured as a brigade field artillery battalion with its ILAVs being redistributed in platoons to the rest of the division’s battalions.
  • The line battalions that are excess to the standard three-line battalions per brigade are being reorganized as additional “brigade support”.   Those battalions will probably be used to form the brigade field artillery battalions and brigade support battalions.
  • The June 2009 Quarterly Report to Congress reported that the Iraqi Army division-level support was being reorganized.  This could be occurring to provide trained support cadre for the brigade support battalions.

The US Army’s reorganization was driven by a need to make the army more flexible and expeditionary by organizing the brigades to be independently deployable.  The Iraqi Army will still be more flexible and responsive at brigade level but, not expeditionary.  The Iraqi Army’s logistic support elements are still tied to fixed support bases. 



This Iraqi Security Force Update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during September 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as of 30 September 2009 is published at Montrose Toast.


During September, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior held 23 course graduations.   The emphasis in the Ministry of Interior is still on basic training of the backlog of untrained and already hired Iraqi Police.  The emphasis of the Iraqi Army remains on support elements, with particular emphasis on engineer and indirect fires.


Iraqi Intelligence:

  • Sept. 10 Intermediate Intel Course graduated 326 (students) at Taji.

Iraqi Police:

  • Sept. 10 Human Rights Course graduated 100 from Baghdad Police College.; 
  • Sept. 10 Basic Recruit Training graduated 102 at Diwaniyah;  
  • Sept. 12 Basic Recruit Training graduated 305 in Al Anbar;  
  • Sept. 17 Basic Recruit Training graduated 2000 in Maysan;  
  • Sept. 24 Basic Recruit Training graduated 500 in Sulayminiyah;  
  • Sept. 25 Basic Recruit Training graduated 1449 at Furat.

Iraqi Air Force:  

  • Sept. 15 Ground Radar Course graduated 37 at Taji; 
  • Sept. 22 Engineer Course graduated 25 at Taji;  
  • Sept. 23 Air Systems Course graduated 12 at Taji;  
  • Sept. 26 Fixed/Rotary Training Wing graduated 25 at Kirkuk.

Iraqi Army:  

  • Sept. 6 12th Field Engineer Regiment formed and graduated Unit Set Fielding at Besmaya;  
  • Sept. 13 M1A1 Tanker Course graduated 42 at Besmaya;  
  • Sept. 15 Engineer Officer Basic graduated 37 at Taji;  
  • Sept. 17 Infantry Officer Basic Course graduated 362 at Kirkush;
  • Sept. 27 Bomb Disposal School IED graduated 7 at Besmaya;  
  • Sept. 28 81mm Mortar Training graduated various numbers in Besmaya; Kirkush; Numaniyah; Tallil; and Kirkuk; 
  • Sept. 30 Chemical Officer Course graduated 9 at Taji;  
  • Sept. 30 Basic Communications Officer Course graduated 56 at Taji.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army 8/2 Brigade is almost one year into its 90-day training deployment to Anbar.   The brigade was sent to Habbenayah from Mosul on 29 October 2008 to receive follow on training and has remained in Anbar since then.  Two Anbar based brigades are currently deployed to Mosul.  They are the 3/1 Brigade and the 26/7 Brigade.  The 26/7 Brigade was to return to Anbar this summer but, has turned up in Mosul instead.  The 8/2 Brigade is currently operating in the home areas of the 26/7 Brigade.   Either the 8/2 Brigade is receiving more advanced training than originally planned or other reasons exist for this brigade remaining in Anbar.


The first boot camp training reported since October 2008 has been reported.  These new troops are being used to form a 120mm mortar equipped battery for a brigade of the 10 Division.


The 1-15/4 Battalion has also been reported training on 120mm mortars.  This battalion is one of the five battalions that had been equipped with 42 ILAV for route-clearance duties.  This battalion’s ILAVs are probably being redistributed and the new forming brigade field artillery battalions will probably be equipped with their own engineering route-clearance capability.


At least two of the divisional “Commando” battalions are now reported at only company strength.   Previous reporting had indicated that these divisional reconnaissance battalions were to be broke up to provide “support” elements to the brigades.  The most likely use for these reconnaissance troops is as the forward observer companies in the forming brigade field artillery battalions after further training.


The additional battalions above the standard three per brigade were also reported as planned to be retrained as "support" to the brigades.  These battalions are probably being converted or broken up to provide cadre for the brigade field artillery battalions.


There are also unconfirmed reports of D30 122mm howitzers and Serbian truck mounted 122mm multiple-rocket launchers for these brigade field artillery battalions.  The D30s could be a false assumption from the howitzers salvaged and seen in IMoD video parked in the 34/9 Brigade’s area.  There are at least a dozen D30s and 3 M109 155mm SP howitzers salvaged and seen in video and photography of the IA this year.  Almost all of these salvaged howitzers were identified as in the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division.


The ISF OOB is listing battalions that may no longer exist as a result.  Those battalions over standard organization may have already begun to be reorganized into the brigade field artillery battalions.


Iraqi Air Force


The U.S. Air Force Central is assessing Iraqi Air Sovereignty needs.  This long overdue review is needed since the Iraqi Air Force has no air defense capacity.  The US forces in Iraq currently provide the only air defense capability in Iraq.


A contract for a Command and Control System to be installed at Ali Air Base, Iraq has been awarded.  The radar system associated for this is contracted as an air traffic control radar.  Ali Base shares its runways with Nasariyah International Airport and the system will be dual-use for military surveillance and commercial air traffic control.  However, the training of air traffic control personnel is behind.  The first post-war Iraqi service member to earn a certification in air traffic control from the International Civil Aviation Organization only only recently gained that distinction.


Three Bell 407 commercial helicopters have been contracted for to be used as the training system platform for the Iraqi Armed 407 program.  These helicopters will be used for pilot conversion training pending receipt of the 24 armed Bell 407s already contracted for.  There is an option for 26 more armed Bell 407s in that contract.  This provides helicopters for two armed reconnaissance squadrons to form by the October 2012.


The Chief of General Staff , Lieutenant General Abu-Baker Zebari announced a contract to purchase “F-16 jet fighters and other brands of support and transport aircrafts  Zebari also pointed out that Iraqi Air Force capabilities would be “completed on a regional level by 2020.”  There were no further details provided as to numbers contracted or delivery dates.  This reaffirms the ongoing plans for the development of the Iraqi air defense capacity will not be complete until 2020.


Iraqi Navy


The replacement orders for the cancelled Malaysian offshore support vessels (OSVs) and patrol boats (PBs) appear to have been made.  The French are to build the two OSVs and six of the 15 PBs.  US Swiftships Shipbuilders is being awarded a contract for the detail design and construction of the remaining nine patrol boats for the Iraq Navy.  These vessels are to complete delivery in 2012.


For the first time, there is public mention of Naval Intelligence courses in the Iraqi training programs.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


The 7th Battalion of the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigade has been publically reported.   This is the “nationalized” Samarra Emergency Response Unit.   Kirkuk’s Emergency Police are now referring to a 1st Emergency Services Unit and a 3rd ESU in addition to the Kirkuk Emergency Response Unit.  This indicates that the ERU is now the 2nd Battalion in the Kirkuk Emergency Police.  This type of re-designation is a precursor to Emergency Police being ‘nationalized” into the Federal Police or MoI’s Emergency Response Brigade.


Likewise, Salahadin’s Emergency Police Brigade is now re-designated the 3rd Brigade, indicating it is also being retrained/re-designated prior to being “nationalized”.


Maysan’s Emergency Police Force continues to expand.  The 10th Maysan Emergency Battalion has been identified and located in Al Kahlaa.


The Department of Border Enforcement’s 2-11 Battalion has been reported as a “commando” battalion and located in Maysan province.   This is the eighth DBE battalion to be identified as “commando” and the 11th DBE is normally stationed in Muthanna province guarding the Saudi border. This indicates the battalion has been re-equipped as a mobile battalion and is probably augmenting or replacing elements of 9th DBE Brigade on the Iranian border.


The first 40 Kurdish personnel to go through Phase III “Caribinieri” as Federal Police start their training in October.  Given the small number being trained, these personnel probably are to be instructors for Kurdish police being added to the Federal Police.  This means the first operational Kurdish manned Iraqi Federal Police battalion will start training in December 2009.

Iraq has a major problem.  Iraq’s air defense is the US Forces in Iraq and those forces are gone at the end of 2011.  That region is too dangerous to go without air cover.


The earliest that new fighters could start delivering is 2014.  Then there is two to three years of training.  Iraq cannot afford more than one squadron of fighters per year.  It takes a minimum of five squadrons provide Iraq with a basic credible air defense.  That means the earliest Iraq could have a basic air defense using new aircraft is after 2020.


There are all sorts of speculation and suggestions as to how to provide an air defense to fill that eight year gap.  The most common comes from those that advocate surface-to-air missiles as a means to provide air defense.  But that does not cover the gap.  Iraq has to pay up front and it takes an air defense brigade to cover the area that a fighter squadron can cover.


In one article, the suggestion was to buy 10 batteries of Patriots and four squadrons of F16.  The problem is that that does not address the manufacture, delivery, and training time needed.  The gap still exists.  It also understates the needed systems:

  1. Patriot is a high-altitude area defense system with anti-ballistic missile defense capabilities.  To cover those areas you need two to three low-altitude batteries.  Each Patriot Battery would have to be an Air Defense Battalion. 
  2. Then there is still the cost, delivery time, and training time for the missile systems and the fighter squadrons.
  3. Also, to field four operational squadrons you would need five squadrons of aircraft.  The fifth squadron for training and spares for the other four. 
  4. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense is not looking at surface to air missiles as an option.  Iraq cannot afford to buy, train, and field fighters and SAMs at the same time.  It is one or the other.   
  5. Without the fighters, the number of SAMs needed triples.  That increases personnel training, costs and training time.  In terms of manpower, money, and fielding times, SAMs do not answer the basic problem.


In “US Lend/Lease to Iraq? “, the only option that comes close to meeting the 2012 deadline was addressed.  If the US loans, leases, or donates enough of the fighters being retired early from the USAF, then the delivery becomes 2010.  That would allow the Iraqi Air Force to start training in 2010 and to become operational in 2012-2013.  That narrows the gap to one, possibly two years.


That buys Iraq time to take delivery of newer aircraft to replace the used aircraft.


Iraq has a problem, partially of its own government’s making.  Because of the insistence on a US withdraw by 2012, Iraq needs an air defense to start training in the next year.   Most of the ideas do not answer that basic problem of time and money.  The questions now are: 

  1. Is the US Government willing to provide enough aircraft to cover Iraq?
  2. How many aircraft and how much support equipment is the US going to provide?
  3. How soon will delivery start?
  4. Is the Iraqi and US governments willing to cover the gap with residual US air, support, and training after the deadline?
  5. And what air tracking systems are they going to get in that time to direct the fighters?  AWACS?

The Iraqi Government has a problem, a problem partially of their making.  They do not have an air defense capability and the US is departing soon.  It takes years to build a legitimate air defense capability and Iraq does not have the time. 


Since 2006, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has been briefing about a three phased series of five-year plans for Iraqi Security Force development.  In May 2009, the Iraqi Minister of Defense stated that Phase 2 and Phase 3 will be delayed given current funding.
  1. Phase 1 (2006-2010):  Tactical Independence.  This means the ability for the Iraqi Security Forces to independently handle internal security.
  2. Phase 2 (2011-2015):  Operational Independence.  This is the ability of the Iraqi ground and naval forces to provide for external ground and naval defense.
  3. Phase 3 (2016-2020):  Strategic Independence.  This is the ability for the Iraqi Air force to provide air defense of Iraq.  The most optimistic estimate from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense for Phase 3 completion was 2018 and that was when the Iraqi budget was considerably higher.


The Iraqi Government negotiated the agreement requiring the US Forces to depart Iraq by 2012, knowing that they would not have an air defense by then.  They were counting on either an extension of US Forces in Iraq or that the political deals with adjacent countries would cover the gap in Iraqi air defense between 2012 and 2020.


The protests in Tehran provided the current Iraqi Government with a serious wake-up call concerning any arrangements with Iran.  It does not matter what deal they may have with adjacent countries when they do not know if the deal will be honored or if the people they had the deal with will still be in power.


Then the Iraqi Minister of Defense pointed out that the current budget was going to extend that gap in Iraqi air defense even further in May of 2009.


So the Iraqi Government started talking about potential extension of US Forces in Iraq.  Then they found out that US internal politics and Iraqi internal politics made any such extension a no-go.  [Beware of what you wish for, your wish may be granted.]


The earliest that any new purchased fighters could start to be delivered is in 2013 or 2014.  When you factor in training time that means the earliest that the first new fighter squadron would become operational is 2015.


At current oil prices, Iraq can only afford one squadron’s worth of fighters per year.  It takes a minimum of five operational fighter squadrons for Iraq to have a credible air defense.  That was the basis of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s plan for air defense development.  The optimistic projection of 2018 was based on the peak price of oil in 2008 potentially giving Iraq the ability to buy two fighter squadrons per year.  Now the Iraqi Minister of Defense does not think the 2020 plan can be met.


There has been no public discussion of surface-air missile purchases by Iraqi or US officials.  Given the Iraqi Government’s lack of credit, any purchases have to be cash up front.  First they would need to negotiate a deal.  Then there is the manufacturing, delivery, infrastructure, and training time.  Put together with the limited coverage and flexibility of SAMs plus the numbers needed, this is not a credible option to cover Iraq’s air defense gap.  It would take too long to field and it is not in the budget.


While the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has been looking into aircraft not delivered and alternate sources for fighters, the total of all the aircraft reported “found” would not provide the minimum numbers and/or capability in the timely fashion necessary to provide for Iraq’s air defense.  The other used aircraft being offered are obsolete, the wrong type, and/or require rebuilds that would delay delivery and cost Iraq money needed for the long term new aircraft purchases.  Aircraft do not store well even when in dry climates.  France and Serbia are not dry.


In August 2009, US senior officials started publically talking about donating, loaning, or leasing used fighters from the USAF.  As a cost cutting measure, the USAF plans to early retire 134 F16s and 112 F15s in 2010.  In the case of the seven squadron’s worth of F16s, these are operational aircraft that still have some life left in them.  Many of the older F15s being retired have metal fatigue problems [cracks in the fuselage].  Thus the F15s are unlikely to be considered viable.


This idea of providing used F16s to Iraqi is currently under study in the Pentagon.  And the terms “lend or lease” keep turning up in the public statements about this proposal.  The reason for that is it would mean the US would still legally own the aircraft and thus could legally provide contractor maintenance and training support. 


Such support would not count as “troops”.   The US has Military Advisory and Assistance Groups (MAAG) or Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) personnel in over 60 countries.  Including countries where the stationing of foreign troops is illegal.  Those offices are legally part of the American Embassy staff.  [Some people wondered at the size of the American Embassy complex in Baghdad.  I didn’t.] 


If the US goes through with this, then the used F16s could be delivered in 2010 as they are retired from the USAF and the Iraqi pilots and support crews could be trained by 2012 or 2013.  These aircraft would still need to be replaced with new purchased fighters, since these used aircraft have only five to ten years of operational life remaining. 


This would also provide US contractor, training, and advisors to train and support the Iraqi Air Force until it has its own purchased fighter squadrons and their support operational to replace the Lend/Lease fighters.  This lend/lease support would be training the support personnel and pilots while maintaining the US owned aircraft. 


This would also make the purchase of new F16s from the US more cost effective for the Iraqi Air Force.  The Iraqi Air Force would be already trained and their support structure formed to support the used F16s.  They would transition to the new bought F16s as they are delivered starting in 2014 without requiring significant retraining or re-equipping. 


These factors also explain why the Pentagon is taking time to study this idea.  They are determining the support/training requirements and costs for a Lend/Lease program.  A straight donation would dump all of those support and training issues on the Iraqis.  The Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraqi Air Force is not currently up to that level of support and training.  A straight donation would probably result in most of those aircraft being parked as static displays. 


This type of operation is not unprecedented.  The first large-scale US Lend/Lease program was prior to the US entry into World War II.  When Denmark needed F16 instructors in the 80s and early 90s, the USAF pilots were provided under ODC Copenhagen.  The assistance was provided while avoiding violating the Danish law against foreign troops on their soil in peacetime.  Similar programs in the Mid-East include the Saudi AWACS lease program which turned into a purchase.  The aircrews and support were provided from the USAF.  Saudi still uses significant contractor support and has a large MAAG.  Such MAAG/ODC operations and support does not count as “troops” since they are legally assigned as part of the American Embassy. 


One of the many questions remaining is:  If the Pentagon is looking at Lending or Leasing USAF F16s being retired from the US inventory, what other equipment being retired from the US inventory might be Loaned or Leased?



Iraqi and US Combat Brigade OOB as of August 31, 2009.


This Iraqi Security Force Update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during August 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as of 31 August 2009 is published at Montrose Toast.




Prime Minister Maliki has apparently reached an agreement with Kurdish leaders regarding the status of the Kurdish Regional Guard. According to Member of Parliment Firyad Rawandouzi, from the Kurdistani Alliance, Maliki agreed to absorb the Peshmerga into the “national defense apparatus”. The agreement would facilitate the transfer and commissioning of two new divisions (15th and 16th). The remaining Peshmerga members would either be absorbed into the police force, civilian institutions or be retired.


The two divisions being commissioned only account for 30,000 of the 100,000 active Kurdish Regional Guards.  Even with 25,000 to 30,000 Peshmerga transferred to the Iraqi Police, there are the equivalent of three more divisions of personnel to be absorbed into the “national defense apparatus”. 


There are 90,000 additional inactive Peshmerga that the Kurdish Regional Government has been negotiating retirement pensions for.


Iraqi Army


On August 27, the US 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs released an article about first aid training being provided to the Iraqi Army 49th Brigade.  This training report is the first report of the 49th Brigade. However, it should be noted that the report does not indicate the 49th Brigade of the 12 Division is operational yet.  This increases the brigades in the Iraqi Army to 57.


On August 17, the 52nd Brigade was reported conducting field maneuvers near the Iranian border. Of interest, the 52nd Brigade was called a "Navy Brigade" in the reporting.  This indicates that the brigade may be transferring to the Iraqi Marines.


Mortar training has been continuing.  The 48th Brigade is training on 120mm Mortars.  There were 10 brigades planned to get 120mm mortar batteries this year.  Eight have now been identified:  the 20/5, 30/8, 38/10, 42/11, 23/17, 46/12, 47/12, & 48/12 Brigades.  Battalion level 81mm mortar "platoons" are also continuing training.


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force received a new headquarters on 23 August 2009. The new base is located at the Victory Base complex and called "Hawk Base".


On August 12, a notice of a contract award “to provide for seven T-6A,Texan II training aircraft including ground based training systems, aircraft spare parts, technical publications, and two years of contractor logistics for the Iraqi Air Force” was announce.  A second notice was announce on August 17, “to provide for 8 T-6A Texan II training aircraft."  In response to a request for information and clarification, Daryl Mayer of the 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs stated that:  "The contract you asked about was awarded for 8 T-6As with an option for 7 additional T-6As.”


Reporting of possible loan, lease, or donation of used US F-16 fighters continues to be mentioned by senior officers and officials.  "The Air Force aims to retire 134 F-16s and 112 F-15s in 2010, if Congress approves the cuts.”  Not all of the F-16s planned to be removed from USAF service would have worthwhile service life left in them.  However, if 75 percent were, that would equip five fighter squadrons of the Iraqi Air Force.


At the end of August, there was a series of press reports about 19 MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft being returned from Serbia. These aircraft were sent to Yugoslavia for servicing in 1989 and never returned. These obsolete aircraft are not in good condition.  According to the Serbs, most of the planes are cannibalized, abandoned and useless. Only two or three are still in one piece and that includes one MiG-23 that was on static display outside Belgrade's aircraft museum.


Iraqi Federal Police


The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is planning to establish an aviation squadron.  The Iraqi government is to purchase 15 aircraft from the United States to use in border control and the implementation of “other special functions."  Other special functions probably means supporting the airmobile Emergency Response Force battalions.


The plan to establish a Federal Police brigade in every province continues and now includes the Kurdish Regional Government. 

  • "Lt. Col Mohammed Al Baydani said the Federal Police have a plan to set up a brigade headquarters in every province, including the self-ruled Kurdistan region, over the next two years."
  • "Today, the Federal Police is comprised of four divisions and 17 brigades, including a mechanized and sustainment brigade and the Al-Askari Brigade that is dedicated to providing security for Al-Askari mosque in Samarra during the its reconstruction."


The seventeenth brigade has sense been identified as Iraq's Wassit Federal Police Brigade.  The Wassit Emergency Police Brigade has been ‘Nationalized’ and transferred to the Federal Police.


Camp Dublin may be the new future headquarters location for the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Force. Also, that force may have started forming its second brigade."The clinic facility at Camp Dublin will support up to 2,000 students at the Federal Police Training Center as well as some tenet units at Camp Dublin, such as emergency response brigades."


US Forces - Iraq


Of interest, the replacement of the USMC in Anbar has commenced.  The 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division has arrived in Anbar and is to be that area's "Advisory and Assitance Brigade".  The two US Marine Regimental Combat Teams are phasing out as their battalions reach the end of their tours.


Articles on Iraq published in August:      

Every time that I write about Iraqi Total Force Mobilization, I get the strawman argument that the Iraqi Security Force can’t afford to expand.  That it can’t pay the additional personnel.  “That I am talking about “2 million people.”  That argument is false.  Almost all of the personnel are already on the payroll.  That has been a reoccurring theme in the entire series of articles about the Iraqi Security Forces that I have written this summer… 


When the reports on Iraqi personnel are published, they normally refer to a total of 675,000 Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior personnel.  That does not include the Facilities Protection Service which includes the Oil Police (108,000 planned. 98,000 existing).  That does not include the planned absorption of the Kurdish Regional Guard (100,000) into the Iraqi Army, Federal Police and local Police.  And it also does not include the Sons of Iraq.


The last Iraqi Total Force Mobilization article was mostly describing the planned reorganization, re-equipping, retraining, and resubordination of existing personnel.  The only Iraqi forces that are expanding are the FPS/OPD (10,000), the Navy (3,000-6,000), the Air Force (8,000-10,000), and the Iraqi Special Operations Force (5,000-7,000).  The rest is re-assignments of existing personnel.


Ministry of Interior 


The “expansion” of the Federal Police is not an expansion of the ISF.  It is a consolidation of the Iraqi National Police, the Kurdish Regional Guard's Special Police Division, and the provincial Emergency Police into one command.  The personnel already exist on the payroll.  However, many are untrained tribal levees.  As part of this program, the provincial paramilitary forces are being trained, equipped, and standardized.  Then they are “Nationalized” and re-designated.  And they are being put under central command and control.  The provinces are retaining the regular police.


Likewise the increasing size of the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigade (ERB) is from the consolidation of the provincial SWAT Battalions (ERUs) into the eight planned ERBs.  The emergency police range from SWAT qualified to tribal levees.  The upper 50 percent of the Emergency Response Units (SWAT trained) are transferring to the centrally controlled Emergency Response Brigades.  There is a 50 percent fail rate of provincial ERU personnel training to join the ERBs.  Those that fail are part of the force going to the Federal Police.


The MoI takeover of the FPS/OPD is the same thing.  That monster was 24 separate ministries and 4 autonomous departments running their own separate forces.  Before the MoI started taking over in January 2008, there were listed at 150,000 personnel by payroll.  Within 6 months that was down to 98,000 as they cleared the ghosts, purged militia, etc.  The current plan for three OPD and three FPS Security Divisions totaling 108,000 personnel is nothing more than standardizing, organizing, training, and improving that force.


These programs allow the MoI to train, equip, standardize, and deploy these forces while it removes the provincial government from controlling and corrupting these paramilitary forces.  The provinces are not getting to keep their militia armies.


Ministry of Defense


The expansion of the Iraqi Army is based on the number of Peshmerga being absorbed (100,000).  Two mountain divisions is only 30 percent of the Peshmerga.  The KRG Special Police is another 12 percent going to the Federal Police.  Even with another 25-30,000 transferring to the IP, that leaves two more divisions worth of Peshmerga to be absorbed by the IA.  Probably split up among the forces.


At the same time as the Peshmerga is providing another two divisions worth of personnel above and beyond the two mountain divisions (15th/16th), there are signs of two more divisions being built in Maysan and Wassit provinces.  That is no coincidence.  The negotiations for the absorption of the Peshmerga and the plans for those divisions have been ongoing in parallel since 2006.


Some might point to the statement that some of the Peshmerga are being pensioned to counter that the 100,000 personnel being absorbed by the ISF.  The problem with that is that the pensions refer to the 90,000 inactive Peshmerga that exist in addition to the operational 100,000 in the Kurdish Regional Guards.


The personnel for all the formations projected/planned in the Iraqi Total Force Mobilization article are already on the payroll.  They are MoI, MoD, Provincial Paramilitary, FPS, KRG, etc.  All of these forces are already being funded by the Government of Iraq.  Now they are being consolidated into the MoI, MoD, and CTB budgets, receiving standardized training, equipment, and organization.  While reducing the reducing the amount of money available for diversion by local politicians.  Only the regular Iraqi Police will remain under the local provinces control.



In August 2007 and June 2008, I wrote monster articles projecting Iraqi Security Forces planned development by 2012 and, in some cases, beyond.  I am not going to do that this year.  Instead I have been writing separate articles addressing the components of the Iraqi Security Forces:  


Iraqi Total Force Mobilization is the last subject of this series of articles.   


Since the Iraqi Army does not have a reserve, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) paramilitary police forces augment them in a wartime mobilization.  The Iraqi Security Forces include elements that remain employed in internal security as well as elements that augment the Iraqi Army.  Of the above forces, only the regular Iraqi Police, Facility Protection Service, and the Oil Police Directorate would not be normally subject to employment against an invading force as part of a corps-level command.  However, those forces would be responsible for key facilities in the rear area.


The total Iraqi Security Forces identified as existing, forming, or planned equate to 46 divisions.  They are broken down into the following categories:


Iraqi Army (IA) is the primary force for external defense and provides four (5 including KRG) corps headquarters and 20 divisions:

  • 14 existing divisions (1st thru 12th, 14th and 17th).
  • 2 Peshmerga divisions transferring to the IA (15th and 16th).
  • 2 forming divisions of the IA and Marines (Presidential and Navy).
  • 2 planned divisions (18th and 19th).
Iraqi Federal Police (FP) has a secondary role providing forces to support the Iraqi Army in wartime.  Current force is only four divisions but, the provincial emergency police and the Kurdish Special Police are being “nationalized” into the Federal Police.  There are 12 planned divisions:
  • 3 existing divisions (1st thru 3rd).
  • 1 division forming (4th).
  • 8 divisions planned to transfer from provincial Emergency Police and Special Police.
Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) is the primary border police force.  Each of the five regions is a division equivalent:
  • 5 regions, division equivalents.
Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is currently organized into 2 brigades but, is planned to be 5 independent brigades:
  • 1 division equivalent.
MoI Emergency Response Brigades (ERBs) are currently only one brigade of seven battalions.  The provincial SWAT battalions are being trained and ‘nationalized’.  Projected force is 8 independent brigades:
  • 2 division-equivalents.
Oil Police Directorate (OPD) is planned to operate in three regions protecting oil infrastructure.  Each region is to be a light security division-equivalent:
  • 3 regions, division equivalents.
Facilities Protection Service (FPS) is being retrained, re-vetted, and re-organized.  Responsible for guarding key buildings and installations.  Being organized into three divisions:
  • 3 divisions planned.


The total division count available to Iraqi field corps is reduced if you factor in the following details about some of the forces listed:

  • The Presidential Division will remain under the National Operations Center except in extreme cases.
  • The Oil Police’s and the Facilities Protection Service’s six divisions are security divisions that will remain employed as internal security, probably reporting to army level commands in wartime.  This indicates a three army-level command structure.
  • The ISOF and ERB elements may equate to three divisions but, they are likely to be assigned to army and corps as twelve independent air assault brigades.


There are 12 Army- and Corps-level headquarters in the wartime structure to command the remaining 36 field divisions.  This equates to three army headquarters commanding a total of nine corps of four divisions each.


Each of the corps and army headquarters would have an independent ERB or ISOF Brigade assigned.  The army headquarters would also have responsibility for an Oil Police Division and a Facilities Protection Division each.


Previous projections had considered the five Ministry of Interior Regions as a possible corps structure for wartime; however, there are no signs of these regions being used or expanded for potential wartime command and control.  They are only administrative. 


The seven Operational Commands are being built up and, combined with the four planned Iraqi Army Corps plus the de facto Kurdish Regional Guard Corps, these headquarters fill out the army- and corps-level command structure. One possible structure is:


Anbar Operational Command as the Western Army headquarters responsible for the Syrian and Jordanian borders, reconstituting and refitting forces, and maintaining reserve mobile forces.  Subordinate corps would be:

  • Ninawa Operational Command (Corps)
  • Northern Iraqi Army Corps
  • Iraqi Army Quick Intervention Corps
Samarra Operational Command as the Northern Army headquarters responsible for the northern Iranian and Turkish borders.  Subordinate corps would be:
  • Kurdish Regional Guard Corps
  • Central Iraqi Army Corps
  • Diyala Operational Command (Corps)
 Karbala Operational Command as the Southern Army headquarters responsible for the southern Iranian, Kuwaiti, and Saudi borders.  Subordinate corps would be”
  • Baghdad Operational Command (Corps)
  • Southern Iraqi Army Corps
  • Basrah Operational Command (Corps)


There are alternate possible structures, but the above listed structure is the most likely planned, given the current information.

In August 2007 and June 2008, I wrote monster articles projecting Iraqi Security Forces planned development by 2012 and, in some cases, beyond.  I am not going to do that this year.  Instead I have been writing separate articles addressing the components of the Iraqi Security Forces:  


Iraqi Total Force Mobilization remains to be addressed.  This article is about the two elements of the Iraqi Joint Forces Command that have not been addressed:  Logistics and training.


The Iraqi Joint Forces Command (JFC) is the Ministry of Defense’s command staff and has six major subordinates.  Those are the Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC), the Iraqi Air Force, the Iraqi Navy (including Marines), the Directorate General for Intelligence and Security (DGIS), the Iraqi Logistics Operations Command (ILOC), and the Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command (ITDC).  The last two are the focus of this article.


Both ILOC and ITDC provide upper level support to the operational forces.  To explain, the brigade and division support is referred to as level 1 and level 2.  It is support is at the operational/tactical levels.  The corps- and army-level support is called level 3 and level 4.  This operational/strategic support feeds the operational/tactical forces.  Level 3 and level 4 are the upper level support.




The Iraqi Logistics Operations Command is the senior headquarters for all logistics in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.  Additionally, this command supports the Ministry of Interior forces while they start building their own level 3 and level 4 support forces.  The primary Iraqi level 4 (Army-level) subordinate command is the growing Taji Joint Base Factory (JBF).  Taji JBF is a three brigade-equivalent logistics and maintenance complex: 

  • South Taji (GSE) Maintenance Depot went fully mission capable this summer and is to be under full Iraqi Army control by 1 January 2010.  This brigade-equivalent is responsible for repair and rebuild of general service equipment (GSE).  Subordinate elements include an Engine Repair Facility, Transmission Repair Facility, Generator Repair Facility, Radio Repair Facility, and a Small Arms Weapons Repair Facility.
  •  North Taji (Vehicle) Maintenance Depot (Brigade) also went fully mission capable this summer and is to be under full Iraqi Army control by 1 January 2010.  This brigade-equivalent is responsible for repair and rebuild of vehicles.  Subordinate elements include a Tracked Vehicle Maintenance Depot, Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Depot, the Taji Vocational Institute (training), and Al Muthanna Vehicle Supply Depot.
  • Taji National Supply Depot also went fully mission capable this summer.  This brigade-equivalent sustainment brigade feeds supplies to the divisions.  This direct link between level 4 and level 2 is due to the absence of corps-level logistics elements.  Subordinate elements include the Taji (Adnan) National Supply Depot Distribution Center, the Taji Joint Repair Parts Depot Support Battalion, the Taji National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion, the Taji National General Depot Support Battalion, the Taji National Medical General Depot Support Battalion, and the Taji General Transportation Regiment (GTR)


Iraq has not formed corps yet but, planning and initial elements for these corps support elements was noted in 2008.  Prior to 2006, five corps-level Regional Support Units existed but, they were re-designated and re-assigned as divisional-support when the decision was made to expand the Iraqi Army past 10 divisions.


At least four, possibly five level 3 support brigades are needed for the Iraqi Army.  [Also, three SBs are needed for the expanding Federal Police and one SB for the DBE.]


The Bayji National Supply Depot’s first battalion was formed in the summer of 2008 and became independent on 16 December 2008.  When fully formed, this support brigade will support the divisions of the Northern Corps of the Iraqi Army.  The Bayji National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion was planned to be joined by an Equipment Depot (Repair), a Supply Depot, and a Fuel Depot.  Plus it is likely that a transport regiment will be added to this brigade.  This appears to have been delayed by the budget crunch and the resulting freeze in new personnel during the fall of 2008.


The Najaf National Supply Depot areas were surveyed in 2008 and the initial Najaf National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion was planned to be formed in the fall of 2008.  This, like Bayji, was also planned to expand into a support brigade that, when formed, will support the divisions of the Southern Corps of the Iraqi Army.  This appears to have been delayed by the budget crunch and the resulting freeze in new personnel during the fall of 2008.


Additional Iraqi Army corps-level (level 3) support brigades are probably planned for the Central Corps (probably at Balad) and the Quick Intervention Corps (probably at Al Asad).


The Ministry of Interior is currently supported by the Taji JBF while its own Army level support base is built next to the Taji JBF.  This support will probably continue since the Department of Border Enforcement has not formed a corps-level support structure and the Federal Police is expanding faster than its logistics with the steady “nationalization” of provincial Emergency Police.  The only level 3 or level 4 logistics formation in the Ministry of Interior at this time is the Federal Police’s Sustainment Brigade.  At least three more of those brigades will be needed in MoI:  two more for the Federal Police to support their expanding force and one for the DBE.  The current plan is to focus on level 1 and level 2 support in the MoI forces.


[For standard logistics and training elements at levels 1 and 2, see Appendix B of the ISF OOB.]




The Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command (ITDC) provide the training for the Iraqi Army above division-level.  Additionally, ITDC supports the separate training programs of the Iraqi Navy (including Marines), Iraqi Air Force, and other independent components of the Ministry of Interior.  The ITDC is split into two major subordinate commands:  The Tactical Training Command (TTC) and the National Defense University (NDU).    


Tactical Training Command (TTC) includes the Tactical Doctrine Center and Lessons Learned Center.  Additionally the training centers throughout Iraq are under the command of the TTC:

  • 1st Regional Training Center at Taji is the primary technical training center in Iraq.  In addition to a battalion level Basic Combat Training, Taji hosts the Combat Arms School, the Counter-Insurgency Academy, the Iraqi Army Mechanic School, an NCO Academy, the Signals School, the Engineering Training School (including the Engineer Training Battalion), the Iraqi Intelligence and Military Security School, and the Iraqi Army Service Support Institute (IASSI).
  • 2nd Regional Training Center at Kirkush is the third largest training center.  Primarily Kirkush is a boot camp training facility with the 1st National Training Brigade and the 2nd National Training Brigade each capable of training 2,500-2,700 personnel per eight-week cycle (when operating).  These have been closed since the fall of 2008 due to the hiring freeze brought on by the budget crunch.  Additional schools include Infantry Officer Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training (Vehicle Maintenance), and an NCO Academy.
  • 3rd Regional Training Center at Numaniyah is the second largest training center.  Primarily Numaniyah is a boot camp training facility with the 3rd National Training Brigade and the 4th National Training Brigade each capable of training 2,500-2,700 personnel per eight-week cycle (when operating).  These have been closed since the fall of 2008 due to the hiring freeze brought on by the budget crunch.  Additional schools include the Military Police Academy, an Infantry Training Course and a NCO Academy.
  • Besmaya Combat Training Center is the largest combat field training range in Iraq.  Primary used for brigade-level training, this center includes the Bomb Disposal (EOD) School, the Artillery School, the Combined Arms School, and the Armor School.  Besmaya is also the primary site for the Unit Set Fielding program.  That program is the assembly, equipping and training of new formed brigades.


The National Defense University (NDU) is the ITDC’s other subordinate command.  This is the officer and senior NCO training commands.  Directly under the NDU are the National Defense College, the Defense Language Institute, the Defense Strategic Studies Institute, the Center for Military Values, Principles & Leadership Development, the Sergeant Major Academy, and the Joint Staff College.  The four officer academies are also under this command.  Each can train 1,000 to 1,500 officers per year.  They are the:

  • 1st Iraqi Military Academy at Ar Rustimiyah which is also training Iraqi Air Force officers until the Air Force builds its own Academy, 
  • 2nd Iraqi Military Academy at Qalachwalan,
  • 3rd Iraqi Military Academy at Zahko, and
  • 4th Iraqi Military Academy at Nasariyah.


At its peak in 2007-2008, Iraqi training facilities were fielding a new brigade every month in addition to filling out the existing under-manned forces to 120-135 percent manning.  When the budget crunch caused a hiring freeze and a closure of the boot camps in the fall of 2008 the Iraqi Army was 20,000 personnel over authorization and: 

  • was preparing to start training and equipping two transferred Peshmerga divisions (8 brigades; 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions);
  • was preparing to form a new 18th Division (four brigades);
  • was preparing to build the fourth maneuver brigades for 6th, 12th, and 17th Divisions (three brigades);
  • was starting to form the corps-level sustainment brigades; and
  • was to start focusing on adding artillery components.  

All of that has been on hold.  The only programs that have continued is the formation of engineering elements, the filling out of  level 1 and level 2 logistics elements, and the filling out of the level 4 Taji Depot complex.  So far in 2009, only two new under strength independent brigades and a handful of battalions have been organized from the excess manning in the existing units.  


Logistics and training is not exciting or sexy to most people.  They are just essential to all operations. 

Since 2005, it has been the Iraqi Army’s stated policy to keep the Soviet-designed tanks in one division, the 9th Division based at Taji.  New, non-Soviet design tanks would go to upgrade other divisions.  That policy has colored all analysis and projections of where the new M1A1 tanks and M1126 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) were likely to go first.  That policy has changed according to an 18 August 2009 comment by Jack Winters:


"On another topic about the M1 and where they're going to go, that question was asked by reporters to the defense minister; and he said they're going to the Ninth Div, and the T72's are going to go to other units in the army. So the idea they are going to go to Baghdad div is not in the mind set of the MOD."


This new detail significantly changes the probable distribution of Iraqi armor over the next 18 months and makes previous predictions obsolete.  [The devil is in the details.  Even small details can change everything]


This could also explain some of the confusing reporting recently concerning the 52nd Brigade’s (14th IA Division) Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) in Basrah.


The question becomes, where is the armor currently in 9th Division and the not yet delivered two battalions of T72s going? To make such a prediction, there are several additional details that need to be considered: 


1.  The comment said "units".  Plural.  This means the Iraqi Minister of Defense is talking spreading the armor out as the 9th Division upgrades to M1A1s and Strykers. Probably in brigade strength since the support battalions are at that level but, to several different divisions. 


2.  The last 9010 Quarterly Report to Congress said that the Iraqi Army is looking at converting “4th Battalions” to support units.  E.G. Use the two battalions of M113 APCs in 9th Division for mortar carriers and mechanized combat service support (CSS).  That removes those two battalions from the equation as mechanized reconnaissance battalions.  The new brigades would need brigade support battalions, so new BSBs would be formed utilizing the redistributed armor.  Plus the current and future brigades are adding 120mm mortars to their strength.  Some of those M113 APCs will probably be converted to mortar carriers. 


3.  52nd Brigade (14th Division) was called a "Navy Brigade" in the press report on the CALFEX in Basrah.   Also, the 14th Division already has a T55/BMP1-equipped tank battalion attached from 9th Division.  That battalion is from the same brigade reported as having tank crews training on M1A1s. 


4.  The Presidentials were always described as planned to be a mix of armor, motorized, and light infantry.  So far, the three brigades are only light infantry.  Two of the brigades are missing battalions. 


5.  Not including the M1A1s and Strykers, there are approximately 24 tank/APC equipped battalions.  If you consider the M113s as probable mechanized CSS or mortar carriers, that is enough armor for seven brigades: 

9th Division is over strength by three battalions (15 line battalions):

  • Two T72/BMP1-equipped tank battalions,  
  • Two T72/BMP1-equipped armored cavalry battalions,  
  • Two T55/BMP1-equipped tank battalions,  
  • Two BMP1-equipped “tank” battalions,  
  • One Type 63-equipped mechanized reconnaissance battalion,  
  • Two M113-equipped mechanized reconnaissance battalions, 
  • One EE9-equipped light armored reconnaissance battalion, and  
  • Three BTR80-equipped mechanized battalions.

To be delivered (two battalions): 

  • Two tank battalion’s worth of T72 tanks from Slovakia, donated by NATO.

Elsewhere in the Iraqi Army (6 or more battalions):

  • Three BMP1-equipped “tank” battalions,  
  • One salvaged wheeled APC equipped motorized battalion, and 
  • At least two M113-equipped mechanized or mechanized engineer battalions. 


6.  The armor that is not assigned to the 9th Division is on attachment from 9th Division, and stated plans indicates the probable distribution of 9th Division’s armor as it upgrades:

  • 14th Division in Basrah has the T55/BMP-equipped 1-36 Tank Battalion attached from 9th Division.
  • 7th Division’s 29th Brigade in western Anbar has two BMP1-equipped “tank” battalions.
  • 11th Division’s 44th Brigade in Sadr City has one BMP1-equipped “tank” battalion.
  • 5th Division’s 20th Brigade in Diyala has two under strength battalions of salvaged APCs.
  • 3rd Division (probably 11th Brigade) in western Ninawa has an unknown number of M113s.
  • The Presidential Brigades and Baghdad Brigade have always been planned to be a mix of armor, motorized, and light infantry.  So far those three brigades are only light infantry.  Two of the three brigades are missing battalions. 


[Have I completely confused you yet?  Remember the basic policy change became known to me on 18 August 2009.  What is the date of this post?  How long has it taken me to put all this together?  How long to make sense of all these factors?  “Everything is simple in the military, and the simplest things in the military are most difficult.”]


What this means is the listed 9th Division brigades/battalions in detail 5 are being transferred to the brigades listed in detail 6.  This means that Ninawa, Diyala, Anbar, and Basrah provinces are converting or expanding forces  to a full-strength mechanized or armored brigade assigned to a division in each.  One of the replaced brigades appears to be becoming an Iraqi Marine Brigade.  The first upgrade and formation of the 5-36 Armor Battalion is already happening. The shift of forces has is already beginning with Basrah but, it was obscured by the previous policy.


The T55/BMP-equipped 1-36 Tank Battalion from 9th Division is attached to 14th Division in Basrah.  The recent reference to 52nd Brigade (14 Div) as “Navy” and the recent training of members of the new 5-36 Tank Battalion on M1A1s indicate the 36th Armor Brigade (9th Division) is the first to upgrade to M1A1s. As the 36th Brigade upgrades, the 1-36 Tank Battalion in Basrah will probably be joined by the 2-36 “Tank” Battalion (BMP1s), and 3-36 Armored Cavalry Battalion (T72/BMP1) forming a new 52nd Armored Brigade with the addition of a new BSB.


The existing 52nd Brigade (14th Division) appears to be transferring to the Iraqi Marines. 


The 3rd Division’s (probably) 11th Brigade in western Ninawa and the 11th Division’s 44th Brigade in east Baghdad will add armor and BSBs, becoming mechanized or armored brigades. 


The 7th Division’s 29th Brigade in west Anbar and the 5th Division’s 20th Brigade in Diyala will each gain a tank battalion and a BSB, finishing their conversion to the 20th and 29th Mechanized Brigades.


The 37th Brigade (9th Division) is uniquely equipped with EE9 90mm gun armed Scout Cars and BTR-80 APCs organized in four battalions.  I had asked repeatedly if the Iraqis were going to equip the Presidentials with the 37th Brigade's armor in early 2007.  At the time, this was not planned.  With the planned upgrade of the 9th Division, the 37th Brigade's armor and the two new tank battalions-worth of T72s are probably going to the 2nd Presidential Brigade and Baghdad Brigade.  The praetorian brigades would get:

  • Baghdad Brigade becomes armored:  Two T72-equipped armored battalions formed from Slovakian donated tanks probably are to be formed and the existing 1st Baghdad Infantry Battalion upgraded with BTR80s transferred from the 37th Brigade.
  • 2nd Presidentials become motorized:  The EE9’s of the 4-37 Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion will probably be added to form a new battalion and the two existing infantry battalions would be upgraded to motorized with the remaining 37th Brigade BTR80s.
  • 1st Presidentials has the personal security role and would remain primarily light infantry mounted on HMMWVs.


If you factor in delivery time for the M1A1s and Strykers, this initial redistribution will happen over the next 18 months.


There are still a few more details missing concerning the redistribution of armor in Iraqi forces.  For example:

  • How much functional or salvageable armor does the Peshmerga have from the salvage of the old Iraqi Army’s1st Mechanized Division and 5th Mechanized Division plus other IA in the north from 2003?  (This is estimated at a minimum of two brigade’s worth.)
  • How much of the KRG's armor is going to the IA with the absorption of the Peshmerga?If there is enough and they are available, they could further upgrade more brigades of the Iraqi Army or they could incorporate a mechanized or armored brigade in the transferred Peshmerga Divisions.


It is possible that this analysis is wrong and the IA is not upgrading brigades and reinforcing locations that have armor already.  Alternatively, they might: 

  • Start the formation of  the 18th Mechanized Division in Maysan and/or 19th Mechanized Division in Wassit from the 9th Division’s replaced armor,  
  • Spread the replaced 9th Division armor and mechanized brigades/battalions throughout more divisions, or  
  • The Iraqi Army could go with independent brigades.  Etc.


All predictions and analysis of Iraqi armor distribution in the near future are affected by this policy change in armor distribution.  In September 2009, the 5-36 Armor Battalion will have its full strength of M1A1 crews trained.  As the 5-36 completes battalion level training this fall, the next transfer of of a battalion to the provinces should occur.

 Iraqi Army Divs

Iraqi Army Divisions:  Existing and projected [click to enlarge]


In August 2007 and June 2008, I wrote monster articles projecting Iraqi Security Forces planned development by 2012 and, in some cases, beyond.  I am not going to do that this year.  Instead I have been writing separate articles addressing the components of the Iraqi Security Forces:  


The Iraqi Army, Joint Commands and Total Force Mobilization remain to be addressed.  This article is about the Iraqi Army now and how it is developing in the future.


As with all such articles, the future projections are heavy on speculation, estimation, and extrapolations. If sixty percent proves accurate, the estimate will be considered good. Many of the decisions by the Iraqi Government and Ministries that affect what is being projected here have not been made yet.  


The following basic factors and assumptions should be kept in mind while reading these articles:

  • The principal role of the Iraqi Army (IA) is external security. Internal security is a secondary role for IA.  As such, the majority of the total force’s armor will be in the Iraqi Army
  • The primary and secondary countries posing an external threat are Iran and Syria.
  • The Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC) sectors are not the basis for the Iraqi Army Corps. There are to be four active corps.  Those Corps are to be headquartered in Mosul, Balad, Al Asad, and Basrah.
  • Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is considered to be growing to a five-brigade airmobile force.  ISOF will be used as Iraqi Army Corps reserve brigades in wartime. While ISOF is currently part of the IA, it is going to split off to the Counter Terrorism Bureau.
  • The Iraqi Army is still projected to grow to 20 divisions (including ISOF as a division equivalent).  This has not changed from previous predictions.  The details have just been refined.
  • The mechanization of the heavy components of the Iraqi Army and the formation of the artillery will take more than five years.  The armor will probably be 10-15 years building.  The 15 year estimate is based on current purchase rates of armor.  Approximately a division-minus will be upgraded each year if the budget supports it.
  • Iraqi Army reserve will be based on existing Ministry of Interior paramilitary formations.
  • The principal forces for internal security belong to the Ministry of Interior (MoI). However, those forces have a secondary role providing infantry, Special Operations, and light mechanized forces to the total force in a wartime mobilization.
  • The Kurdish Regional Guards (KRG; aka Peshmerga) is being re-designated as Iraqi Army Federal Police, and Iraqi Police.  The KRG elements will probably be a de facto Joint Corps in a wartime mobilization.
  • The Operational Commands are not the peacetime basis of the four active corps but, will be used as three Army and four corps headquarters for wartime mobilization.  In peacetime they will command the internal security forces.  Likewise, the peacetime IA Corps will not be how they are configured in a full mobilization.


Iraqi Ground Forces Command: The principal role of the IGFC is external security and the components for that role are to be added starting 2009. The IGFC is currently announced at 20 division-equivalents operational, forming, or planned:

  • Four planned corps,  
  • 14 active IA divisions (1st thru 12th, 14th, and 17th),  
  • A division (minus) of ISOF,
  • A forming Presidential Division, 
  • Two Kurdish divisions mustered but not yet commissioned (15th and 16th), and  
  • Two more divisions are planned (18th in Maysan and 19th in Wassit).    


While the IGFC is the only peacetime army-level headquarters, three of the seven operational centers have been identified as probable army headquarters in a wartime mobilization.  They are the Samarra Operational Command for the northern corps, the Baghdad Operational Command for the central corps, and the Karbala Operational Command for the southern corps. 


IA Corps:  These four corps are not yet formed.  Each corps is likely to consist of a headquarters regiment, support regiment, four or five divisions, one mechanized or armored brigade, one or more artillery regiment, one ISOF airmobile brigade (attached when needed), a composite aviation wing (brigade), and a field engineering regiment. Additional elements may be assigned to the active peacetime corps for use in the mobilization corps based on the operational commands.  Their probable locations are Mosul, Al Asad, Balad, and Basrah.


Four of the seven operational commands are also probable corps headquarters in a wartime mobilization.  They are the Ninawa Operational Command, Diyala Operational Command, Anbar Operational Command, and the Basrah Operational Command. 


Additionally, the Kurdish Region may get its own corps headquarters, at least in wartime.  If this happens, the headquarters would be located in Irbil. 


IA Divisions:  Each division is standardized with four line brigades, a field artillery regiment, a field engineer regiment, a transport and provisioning regiment, an intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance (ISR) battalion, and a headquarters battalion. [Expanded detail provided in Appendix B.]  Unlike the other divisions, the 9th Armored Division and ISOF also have modular configured brigades with brigade support battalions.  These divisions are not completely built:

  • None of the 14 existing Iraqi Army divisions have their field artillery regiments (fires brigades).  These will start forming after the brigades get their fire support battalions.  That will probably be in 2011 or 2012.
  • Six of the 14 IA divisions are still building up their transport and provisioning regiments (sustainment brigades).  These are planned to be complete by the end of 2009. 
  • Three of the 14 IA divisions are still building up their field engineering regiments (engineer brigades).  These are planned to be complete by the end of 2009.
  • Three of the 14 IA divisions are missing their fourth maneuver (line) brigades.  Those are 6th, 12th, and 17th Divisions.  This is due to the 2008 formation of the 12th and 17th Divisions combined with the hiring freeze in the fall of 2008.  With the current emphasis on completing the existing divisions support elements, these might not form until 2010.  However, the recent agreement to transfer the 100,000 KRG troops to the Iraqi Security Forces could facilitate filling these divisions out. 
  • Three of the 14 IA divisions are missing their ISR battalion.  Also, the IGFC is considering disbanding these battalions and the excess battalions in the over-strength brigades to form support battalions.  Given the current fielding of 120mm mortars for the brigades, this probably means a combination of brigade support battalions and brigade fire support battalions are to be formed from these disbanded personnel.  This might change with the influx of personnel from the KRG. 
  • The 9th Division is still awaiting two battalions worth of NATO donated T-72s from Slovakia so as to finish converting from a mechanized to an armored division.  However, they may be replacing the Russian origin tanks in 9th Division with M1A1s while using the older T-55s and T-72s to upgrade units elsewhere in Iraq.  Which could mean the cancellation of the T-72s.   


IA Line Brigades: The IA line brigades will consist of a Brigade Special Troops Battalion, an attached artillery battalion, and three (four or five for independent brigades) line battalions. Armor brigades have two armor battalions and a mechanized battalion. Mechanized brigades have an armor battalion and two mechanized battalions. Motorized, infantry, and mountain brigades have three type battalions.


Iraqi Peacetime Army Distribution


Independent Iraqi Army Forces under National Operational Command or IGFC:

  • Iraqi Special Operations Force.  1st ISOF Brigade in Baghdad.  Four Regional Commando Battalions based at Mosul, Al Asad, Diyala, and Basrah.  The four RCBs are brigade cadre.
  • 1st Presidential Brigade, 2nd Presidential Brigade, Baghdad Brigade, and IGFC Field Engineer Regiment.  The three brigades are under strength and still building.  The status of the IGFC FER is unknown.  With the exception of the 1st Presidential Brigade, all four of these formations were commissioned in 2009.  The 1st Presidential Brigade commissioned in January 2008.  Filled out, with the addition of support regiment, field artillery regiment, a headquarters, and a fourth brigade (possibly 1st ISOF Brigade), this Presidential Mechanized Division could be officially commissioned this year.
Quick Intervention Corps (forming):
  • 1st Motorized Division based in eastern Anbar.  Probably planned to become a mechanized division.
  • 4th Motorized Division based in Salahadin.  Planned to be an airmobile division.
  • 7th Infantry Division based in western Anbar.  Planned to be an armored division.
  • 9th Mechanized Division based at Taji.  Converting to an armored division with receipt of 70 more NATO donated T72 tanks.
Northern Corps (planned):
  • 2nd Motorized Division based in Mosul.  Probably planned to be an airmobile division.
  • 3rd Motorized Division based in western Ninawa.  Planned to be an armored division.
  • 12th Infantry Division based in Kirkuk.  Currently an infrastructure security division.  No indications of future configuration.
  • 15th Mountain Division based in Sulaymaniyah.  Mustered, awaiting training, equipping, and commissioning.
  • 16th Mountain Division based in Irbil.  Mustered, awaiting training, equipping, and commissioning.
Central Corps (planned):
  • 5th Motorized Division based in Diyala.  Planned to be a mechanized division.
  • 6th Motorized Division based in western Baghdad.  Probably planned to be an airborne division.
  • 11th Infantry Division based in eastern Baghdad.  Planned to be a (possible) mechanized or (probable) armored division.
  • 17th Commando Division based in southern Baghdad.  Still missing a brigade.
  • 19th Division to be based in Wassit.  Not formed.  Probably planned to be a mechanized division.
Southern Corps (planned):
  • 8th Commando Division based in Qadisayah/Babil/Karbala/Najaf/Wassit.  Plans to split off area for 19th Division in the future.
  • 10th Motorized Division based in DhiQar/Maysan/Muthanna.  Probably planned to be an armored division.  18th Division in Maysan to be split off first.
  • 14th Motorized Division based in Basrah.  Probably planned to be a mechanized division.
  • 18th Division to be based in Maysan.  Not formed.  Probably planned to be a mechanized division.  Divisional support base to be complete in September 2009.
  • Naval Division.  Technically not part of the Iraqi Army but, the Navy and Marines will probably be subordinate to this corps.


What follows is a working checklist and notes of current missing or deficient items in the IA TO/E:


__/__Senior NCO Shortage. Only time and experience can correct this. The slow down in unit formations and the follow on training that has been available has improved this situation.

__/__Mortar Batteries. Battalions are in the process of receiving their mortar batteries.

__/__Motorization. The existing Iraqi Army will be effectively motorized by the end of 2009. 


__/__Senior NCO Shortage. Only time and experience can correct this.

__/__Brigade Combat Engineer/EOD elements. Well along.  Probably done by end of 2010.

__/__Field Artillery Battalions. The current plan is to form half-battalions of nine 120mm mortars each and then build on those cadres.  Only 10 of these are planned in 2009.  There are 56 current IA Brigades.

__/__Medical. Medical personnel are still in training.

__/__Communications. Training is ongoing.

_____Brigade Support Battalions (BSB). As the brigades become fully motorized and gain their artillery battalions, they will need to add BSBs. Only the brigades of the 9th Division and ISOF have BSBs so far.  Additional divisions may start forming BSBs in 2010.



__?__Intelligence and reconnaissance. An intelligence and reconnaissance company (Scout Company) is insufficient at division level. A dedicated military intelligence company is needed.  The formation of 11 Divisional ISR Battalions had been addressing this problem but, the possible disbanding of them in order to fill out other support will leave this element weak.

__/__Medical. Medical shortages in equipment, facilities and personnel. In progress.

__/__Communications. Training and equipping progressing.

__/__Engineer Battalions. The division engineering regiments' components are mostly formed. The training of engineers/EOD has been accelerated.

_____FA Regiments. The formation of the divisions' fires brigades (FA) has not started. These regiments are scheduled for after 2010.

_____Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalions. No ADA battalions have been announced as planned. Standard US Army TO/E provides for one ADA battalion per division, while other countries have ADA brigade or regiment per division.

__/__Transport and Sustainment Regiments (Sustainment Brigade).  These are expected to be complete for the existing divisions by the end of 2009. 




_____Intelligence.   Nonexistent.

_____Medical.  Nonexistent.

_____Communications.  Nonexistent.

_____Corps Support Brigades. Nonexistent.

_____Corps Independent Brigades. Normally, corps have additional field artillery, ADA, engineer, aviation, and other brigades.  Nothing formed as yet.  The only independent brigades so far are not corps assets.



__/__Intelligence. Intelligence at Army/Ministry level has improved.

__/__Medical. Work in progress.  General shortage of medical personnel in Iraq.

__/__Communications. Work in progress.

__/__Logistics. The Taji National Depots are expanding and expected to be complete in 2009.  The Bayji and Najaf Depots are still in work.

_____Artillery. Nonexistent.

_____Air Defense. Nonexistent.

_____Aviation. Iraqi Air Force is an under-strength transport and reconnaissance group. The Iraqi Air Force is grossly insufficient in size and capabilities to support the Iraqi Army.

__/__Engineers/EOD. At all levels the engineers/EOD elements are short on trained personnel and equipment.   However this is improving.  The IGFC recently gained its own Field Engineering Regiment.

__/__APCs/MRAPs/HMMWVs. The additional purchases of trucks and HMMWVs means the current IA will be fully motorized by the end of 2009.

_____Armor. There are not enough tanks to fill the 9th division. That is being filled out later in 2009. The IA requires a minimum of six mechanized/armored divisions to counter the probable threat (Iran and its ally Syria).

__/__Size. The Iraqi Army remains deficient in leadership, logistics, artillery, mortars, APCs, armor, and most of all size. Current announced force structure would require approximately 120,000 more personnel to fill out the IA TO/E. The freeze in new recruits has forced the consideration of cannibalizing line battalions to form support battalions. The addition of at least 30,000 Peshmerga to the Iraqi Army may help correct this problem.

The Iraqi Navy

Basrah Borders

The Iraqi Navy and Marines are the smallest of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense armed forces.  With only 68 kilometers (43 statute miles) of coastline and two oil terminals, Iraq does not require a large naval force.  However, what Iraq has now and what is on order is insufficient for the duties assigned.


The Iraqi Navy has one Saettia class Patrol Ship, five Preditor class Patrol Boats, 26 Defender class small Patrol Boats, and 24 Fast Attack Boats (FAB).  The 50 Defenders and FABs are used by the two Marine battalions.


The Iraqi Navy is receiving three more Saettia class Patrol Ships at a rate of one vessel per quarter.  All four Patrol Ships are to be operational and in Iraq by the summer of 2010.   Also, there are 15 35-meter Patrol Boats are on order.  The first four are to be delivered by the end of 2010 and the remaining 11 in 2011.  This is a replacement order for 15 Malaysian built Patrol Boats that were to be delivered by 2011.  The Malaysian order was cancelled due to inability to deliver.


The Iraqi Navy’s major units are the 1st (Patrol Boat) Squadron, 1st Marine Commando Battalion, and 2nd Marine Security Battalion.  The Navy plans to form three more Patrol Boat Squadrons (1 Patrol Ship/5 Patrol Boats each) and an auxiliary support squadron.  The replacement order for two auxiliary ships has not been reported.


The 1st Marine Commando Battalion is the primary security for the two offshore oil terminals and performs the ship boarding and searches.  The 2nd Marine Battalion is employed in port security at Umm Qasr and Az Zubayr.  The Iraqi Marine battalions are currently cross training in missions.  To support this expanded capability, the Iraqi Navy will probably purchase additional small Patrol Boats or Fast Attack Boats.


What follows is speculation.


There have been no reports of plans to buy missile armed vessels, dedicated aviation support to the Navy, or of coastal defense.  There are also no reports that the Marines are to further expand.  However, the 2nd Marine Battalion was formed with no prior public notice.


The Iraqi Navy will probably acquire a missile boat squadron.  There are several possibilities but, Italy, France, China, and Germany are the most likely sources.


The Iraqi Air Force will probably assign a dedicated Naval Aviation Support Squadron.  The aircraft will probably be helicopters for search and rescue, Marine support, and attack.


The Iraqi Marines will probably expand to two, possibly three brigades, a Naval Division.

  • One brigade would be for the platform security and vessel boarding search and seizure.
  • One brigade would be for port security and coastal defense.
  • It is possible a third brigade would be formed and the coastal defense duties separated from the port security role.


Another possible Iraqi Marine role would be marsh operations.  The former Iraqi regime had three Marine Brigades, two in the Navy and one in the Republican Guard Special Forces Division.  Two of those Marine Brigades were employed as spearhead units in the counter-attacks that retook the Manjoon Islands in the Hawar Marsh during 1988.


The Iraqi Navy is expanding and will probably be independent by 2015, maybe sooner.

Iraqi Praetorians


[While each of the Iraqi elements is as described, their future unification under the Counter Terrorism Bureau is not confirmed as planned.  The Counter Terrorism law has been stuck in the Iraqi Parliament for over a year.  The probable allocation of new Iraqi armor is also unconfirmed.]   




Praetorian forces are the military forces specifically charged with guarding a country’s government.  All countries have their praetorians.  They do not necessarily advertise it.  You can tell which military or paramilitary service has the job by who is assigned to guard the government.  In countries that are under a dictatorship, praetorian forces are drawn from party members.  In countries that do not have single-party rule, it looks a bit different.


In the US, the praetorians are the US Marine Corps.  That is why the USMC has "and other duties as the President directs" in their legal roles and missions description.  They have had that job since President Washington.  The USMC guards the White House, American Embassies, and provides Marine One for ready movement and emergency evacuation of the Commander-in-Chief.


Most countries have a troika of ground forces.  That is because power corrupts and ground forces are the key to a military coup.  If you only have one ground force, then that ground force will end up ruling.  If you have two ground forces, then the larger will take over.  By having three ground forces, any coup plotter has to gain control of or neutralize at least two of the ground forces to succeed.  This pattern of a troika is a compromise between combat efficiency (unity of command) and the need to prevent a monopoly of military power.


In the US the troika was set up under President Washington as:  

  1. The State Militias under the State Governors (ARNG),  
  2. The Continental Army under the War Department (USA), and  
  3. The Marines under the Navy Department (USMC).


The smallest service usually gets the praetorian job and tends to be elite.  The praetorian role is usually not their only job.  [Note:  President Washington had to turn down the job of King of America from the Continental Army three times that is recorded.  That factor was part of why this was set up with the USMC getting the praetorian role.]


These separate services need to be large enough to be credible deterrents against any single one trying to take over.  The US Civil War is a failure case in point.  The US Army split into two factions, and the State’s Militias were powerful enough to challenge central rule.  Another example is when the Soviet Union fell because the Red Army and Soviet Ministry of Interior forces forced the KGB troops to back down.


Iraq’s three ground services.


Iraq legally has only two ministries with significant combat paramilitary or military ground forces:

  1. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has the Iraqi Army with 14 divisions. (This is growing to 16 or 17 divisions soon with the new Kurdish additions.)
  2. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has the Federal Police (FP) and the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) with five DBE Divisions and four FP Divisions. (The Federal Police is projected to grow to 10-12 FP Divisions as they absorb the provincial emergency police and Kurdish elements.)


Unless the Iraqi Government can fix this power balance, Iraq will be an Iraqi Army General's dictatorship in the not so distant future.  That is where the Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) comes into play. The CTB provides the third service to help prevent coups but, in order to be credible, it needs to be large enough and deadly enough to block MoI or MoD elements and its forces need to be separate from MoD and MoI.


The law authorizing the CTB has been hung-up in the Iraqi Parliament for over a year.  The CTB in its current state is funded by the Prime Minister’s emergency fund.  The Iraqi members of parliament are resisting it because; it looks like a new Republican Guard.  Not too surprising, since the Republican Guard was a Praetorian Guard force.


Current Iraqi Praetorian Forces


The Iraqi praetorian brigades that exist now are the forces operationally directly subordinate to the Iraqi Command-in-Chief’s (Prime Minister’s) National Operations Center (NOC).  All three forces are regularly accused of being the Prime Minister's private army.   All three are used against politically sensitive targets.  They are in three categories: 

  1. The Baghdad Brigade, 1st Presidential Brigade, and 2nd Presidential Brigade.  At this point these forces only have a total of six line battalions.  Standard Iraqi brigade size is three line battalions and praetorian brigades tend to be over-strength in battalions.  Currently they are administratively part of the MoD.
  2. The CTB’s Counter Terrorism Command, aka the Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF).  1st ISOF Brigade in Baghdad has three line battalions and is provided dedicated air support by the Iraqi Air Force’s 15th Special Operations Squadron.  There are also four Regional Commando Battalions with air, intelligence, and logistics support detachments that look like the cadre of four future ISOF brigades.  ISOF troops are currently administratively part of the MoD.
  3. The Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigade is already seven battalions strong and is continuing to grow.  The plan is for a minimum of one Emergency Response Battalion per province.  These battalions are being built by taking existing provincial SWAT personnel and training them, forming them into a national command SWAT battalion.  There is a 50 percent failure rate in that course which means only one battalion is “nationalized for every two that start training.  Projected end-strength is about two division-equivalents or 24-26 battalions.  Currently the ERB is administratively part of the MoI.


The Baghdad Brigade, 1st Presidential Brigade, and 2nd Presidential Brigade are unusual in that they are radically under strength.  But this could be explained if the existing force is looked at as just the infantry portion of the mechanized component of the Praetorian Guard.  Normally, modern praetorian forces have armor to counter the army’s armor.  In the mid-east, that armor is usually the best in the inventory.  With the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division becoming an armored division with the next delivery of NATO donated T-72 tanks; the priority for armoring the praetorians becomes higher.


The security as to where the initial 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks (4 battalions) and the initial 271 M1126 Stryker armored personnel carriers (6 battalions) will be assigned is comparable to that of the praetorian forces.  This could be because the tanks and APCs are associated with the praetorians.

  • This could mean that the Baghdad Brigade, with only one infantry battalion, is to get two M1A1-equipped tank battalions and equip the current infantry battalion with Strykers. 
  • The two Presidential Brigades have five battalions between them, which means they would get a M1A1-equipped tank battalion each while the existing infantry battalions and headquarters elements would get any remaining Strykers.


Counter Terrorism Bureau projected organization


Given all of the above factors, the probable structure of this third service starts to become apparent.  It would be a force of one mechanized division and three special operations division-equivalents organized into three tiers: 


Tier 1:  The Presidential Mechanized Division in Baghdad with: 

  • The Baghdad Armored Brigade (2 M1A1 and 1 Stryker battalions),
  • The 1st Presidential Mechanized Brigade (1 M1A1 and 2 Stryker battalions),
  • The 2nd Presidential Mechanized Brigade (1 M1A1 and 2 Stryker battalions),
  • The 1st Special Operations Airmobile Brigade.


Tier 2:  Then there would be four regional Special Operations Airmobile Brigades in key areas (ISOF division-equivalent).  Each regional brigade would be organized like the 1st ISOF Brigade with recon, ICTF, commando, aviation, and support battalions.  These four ISOF brigades would be collocated with Iraqi Army corps headquarters located at Mosul, Al Asad, Baqubah, and Basrah.  In addition to keeping an eye on these army corps, they would provide a wartime airmobile brigade supporting each corps.


Tier 3:  Finally, each province would have at least one Special Operations Battalion (ERBs) to assist the MoD/MoI forces and to keep an eye on them.  (24-26 battalions total; 2 division equivalents.)  These forces would be organized into eight special operations brigades when supporting a wartime mobilization.


By combining the Emergency Response Brigades with the Iraqi Special Operations Force and the three Praetorian Brigades, this four division-equivalent force would be a credible deterrent to any coup planner.  This is especially true if they include the best armor in Iraq.


[This is not the first time I have addressed the expansion of the CTB into a third Iraqi ground force.  The difference is that now there is a clear expansion of praetorian brigades in Baghdad and indications of an armor/mechanized component.]

The June 2009 quarterly report to congress “Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq” was released on 31 July 2009.  The information in this report is only the unclassified portion of the report.  The information contained is dated no later than 15 May 2009.  This article will address noteworthy items from this report concerning Iraqi Security Force developments.  [Speculation and comments in italics.]


Budget issues are still causing major problems in the Ministry of Defense, especially as concerns personnel.  This is especially impacting the Air Force and Navy.  These are some of the key statements from the report:

  • In August 2008, the Minister of Defense implemented a recruiting and hiring freeze for all positions.
  • The following month, the Minister of Finance established a 253,000 personnel cap based on estimates of affordability related to the 2008 defense budget. 
  • Based on March 2009 pay data, the Iraqi Armed Forces, including military, civilians, and contractors, currently exceed the personnel cap by over 13,000 positions.
  • Growing concerns with funding have resulted in a near stalemate of personnel actions, impacting Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi Navy force generation.
  • Since the hiring freeze that was directed in September 2008, there has been no new recruit requirements or authorizations to be filled.


Iraqi Army 


The Iraqi Army has 14 divisions, 56 brigades, and 185 combat battalions.  The 6th Division, 12th Division, and the 17th Division are still missing their fourth maneuver brigades.


Three of the 56 brigades are not Iraqi Ground Forces Command combatant brigades and are not assigned to a division.  They are the Baghdad Brigade formed in the fall of 2008, the 1st Presidential Brigade formed in January 2008, and the new 2nd Presidential Brigade formed in the spring of 2009.  These three independent “praetorian” security brigades are still building and only have six combat battalions between them.  [Note: This is probably the start of a Presidential Guard Division.]


Budget problems are continuing to hinder the manning of combat support and combat service support units. The lack of soldiers entering boot camp is forcing Iraqi leaders at all levels to face the dual challenge of manning and training enabler units out of existing manpower.


Divisions are forming engineer, logistics, mortar, and other units by identifying over-strength units, such as the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) battalions and other headquarters elements, and then transferring them as needed.  Recently, the Ministry of Defense issued an order to all Iraqi Army divisions requiring analysis on the effect of dissolving the 4th Battalion in each brigade and using those soldiers to man enabler units throughout the IA.


The IA continues preparation for the fielding of 120mm mortar batteries and 81mm mortar platoons. The start of unit mortar fielding is in July 2008.


[Note:  These factors mean that the brigade/battalion field artillery and support battalions will have to be formed from excess personnel in the divisions, such as the 14 battalions that exist in the divisions above standard Iraqi organization.  Also, Iraqi Army combat units were authorized to be manned at 120 to 135 percent until the fall of 2008 when the budget crunch hit.  These personnel are being transferred to fill out the missing three brigades and their battalions in 6th, 12th, and 17th Divisions, the missing battalions in the three “praetorian” brigades, as well as the fire support and logistic support battalions for the brigades.  It is possible that Kurdish elements may also be used to fill out these components.  That would explain why only two Peshmerga divisions are being transferred when there are four division equivalents transferring…]


12th Division’s Motor Transport Regiment (MTR) was finally fielded after a three-month delay due to manning issues.  This completes the formation of the 12 MTRs supported by US forces.  [Note:  US Security Transition Command-Iraq only supports the force generation of 13 of the current 14 Iraqi Army Divisions.  The extra formations, including Kurdish divisions transferred to the Iraqi Army are not supported by the US.]


The divisional logistics support elements are being restructured in the Iraqi Army: 

  • Recently, there has been a restructuring of the Field Service Regiment into the Transportation and Provisioning Regiment. This organization includes the original MTR with each company gaining a Provisioning Platoon. The restructure also breaks out the Field Workshop as an independent company and reorganizes the Supply Company into the Ordnance Park as an independent company capable of receiving, storing, and disbursing Class II (clothing, tools, etc), IV (construction and barrier materials), and VII (major end items) items. The original capabilities of the Field Service Regiment are retained in this new organization.  


“The original 2009 force generation schedule is no longer applicable due to these challenges.”   [Note:  I am nominating this statement for understatement of the year.  Without new personnel to fill the needed units, the Iraqi Army is going to be badly undermanned.  Also, restarting the boot camps will not be easy either.]


Air Force and Navy 


The first three Lasta-95 primary training aircraft are expected in June 2009 with the remaining 17 aircraft delivered in the following 18 months.  These aircraft will not be integrated into the student-training program until December 2009.  Acquisition of the T-6A trainer aircraft, critical for the advanced pilot training plan, is currently being deliberated. Ultimately, the Prime Minister will make the decision concerning this capability.” [Note:  Expect a new fixed-wing training squadron to officially commission in the Iraqi Air Force by the end of 2009.  The purchase of the Lasta-95s was part of a deal to reduce Iraq’s debt to Serbia.  Thus it cannot be economically cancelled.  The issue of the T-6A acquisition is budget driven and can be delayed.  If the Iraqi Air Force delays the T-6A buy, then effective training of pilots and the reported planned buy of AT-6Bs will also be delayed.] 


Current Iraqi Air Force priorities include:

  • Moving the Headquarters from the International Zone to the Victory Base Complex.
  • Moving training from the Iraqi Military Academy at Rustimayah and the Kirkuk flight Training Wing to Tikrit.  [Confirms the establishment of a new air base at Tikrit.]
  • Moving 70th Reconnaissance Squadron from Basrah Air Base to Ali (Tallil) Air Base.  


Coalition turnover of key infrastructure, including aircraft parking ramps, hangars, and dormitories is critical to growth, but the Iraqi Air Force has limited capability to conduct infrastructure maintenance. Coalition advisors are helping the Air Force to fill this capability gap by creating training programs for engineers.


US Marines will begin to partner with Iraqi Marines in July 2009.  [This completes the replacement of UK forces by US.]


Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF)


The Ministry of Defense has agreed to provide 1,409 soldiers to the ISOF Selection Course in 2009. These personnel would be sufficient to bring all units to full operational capability by July 2009 and complete force generation.  However, the Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School has encountered persistent difficulties obtaining support from for ammunition, equipment, and pay for the trainees, causing courses to be postponed. Failure to resolve the funding issue will have a significant impact on ISOF’s sustainment.  ISOF advisors have made this issue a priority for resolution. [Note:  If and when the Counter Terrorism Bureau Law is passed, ISOF will no longer be part of the Ministry of Defense.  With the budget issues, the Ministry of Defense appears to be cutting the ISOF off already…]


Federal Police


“The NP [Federal Police] continues to have success in recruiting across most of Iraq’s ethnic and religious sects in each province, with the notable exception of the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government].”   [Note:  The recently announced deal to incorporate the Peshmerga into the Iraqi Security Forces may have corrected this issue.]


Continued expansion of the NP into the provinces is supported by a three-year plan to base a brigade-sized NP force into each of the provinces, with a regionally-based division HQ controlling these units and division support battalions providing logistical support.


Additionally, the NP HQ is requesting its own budget to be able to conduct operations and sustainment without having to request funding from the MoI.  The NP HQ is aggressively seeking available properties in the provinces to base these new units and has had initial success in acquiring them. As the previous owner for most bases, the MoD maintains first right of selection as Coalition forces return most bases.  This may become an impediment to the NP acquiring existing bases.


There are 67 Federal Police battalions, five of which are forming as of 15 May 2009.  The Federal Police Sustainment Brigade is planned to be operational by September 2009.  [Note:  The Sustainment Brigade is a corps/army-level support brigade similar in role to the Iraqi Army’s Taji National Depot.] 


There is still no clear table of organization for three new commands being built in the Federal Police.  "The new special security unit missions are the Central Bank of ISF, Embassy Protection Force, and the Antiquities and Ruins Security Force." 


But the organization of Federal Police forces in the north and south are clearing up.  The 3rd Federal Police Division units will expand to provide a presence in Diyala, Mosul (to add to existing units in Salah ad Din), and Anbar.   [Note:  There are already two or three FP Brigades in Mosul, unconfirmed reports of Abu Risha Brigade moving to Ramadi from Mosul, and reports of the Diyala Brigade forming.]  The 4th Division will generate units in Wasit, Maysan, and Dhi Qar, in addition to the units already in Basrah.


Department of Border Enforcement


The Customs Police has been separated from the Department of Border Enforcement.  The new Port of Entry Directorate (PoED) is only 2,700 personnel.    [Note:  Previously reported Customs Police “Battalions” reappraised in the Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as only company strength.]


Facilities Protection Service and Oil Police Directorate


There are now 12 Oil Police battalions in the three “divisions’.  The Ministry of Interior is planning to complete their takeover of these forces in late 2010.  However, the Facilities Protection Service consolidation law has not passed yet.



Iraqi and US Combat Brigade OOB as of July 31, 2009.


This Iraqi Security Force Update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during July 2009.  This update does not include analysis of the June 2009 9010 Quarterly Report to Congress.  The 9010 Report will be addressed separately.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as of 31 July 2009 is published at Montrose Toast.  


On July 6, the National Operations Center (NOC) was declared fully mission capable.  The NOC is the Commander-in-Chief’s (Prime Minister) operations staff in Iraq.  With this certification, the three most senior operational staffs in the Iraqi Security Forces are rated as fully mission capable.  Those staffs are the NOC, the Ministry of Defense’s Joint Operations Center (JOC), and the Ministry of Interior’s National Command Center (NCC). 


The joint Diyala Operational Command (DOC) also received a new headquarters.


Ministry of Defense


While the 9010 report will be addressed separately, one item needs to be mentioned.  The Presidential Brigade has split and is now the 1st Presidential Brigade and the 2nd Presidential Brigade.  Combined with the Baghdad Brigade, these forces are probably the start of a new division being organized in Baghdad.  These Iraqi Army Praetorian Brigades are responsible for the security of the President, Vice Presidents, senior officials, and the Baghdad International Zone.


A contract for maintenance and repair of the final 2,200 M1114 up-armored vehicles for transfer to the Iraqi Army has been awarded.  Work is estimated to complete Jan. 31, 2010.   Originally, all 8,500 of these HMMWVs were to be transferred by the end of July.


Another Iraqi Army brigade has been identified training on 120mm Mortars.   The 20/5 IA Brigade was reported training on US 120mm Mortars in Diyala in preparation to receiving their own later this year. 


On 14 July, there was a report of bridge training for "the 4th, 5th, and Headquarters IA Field Engineer Regiment." This is the first mention of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command having its own separate Engineering Regiment.  This regiment probably includes the Iraqi Army’s Infrastructure Engineer Battalion which has responsibility for power line and oil pipeline repairs in hostile areas. 


The Warrior Training Program continues to provide follow-on battalion level training to the Iraqi Army.  On July 20, the 1-33/8 IA Battalion graduated Warrior Training at the 3rd Regional Training Center in Numaniyah.


The Iraqi Navy has replaced the cancelled Malaysian Patrol Boat purchase.  A new order for 15 Patrol Boats has been awarded and the first four are to be delivered by the end of 2010. 


Ministry of Interior


The Iraqi National Police has been renamed to the Federal Police. Details as to what components the new “Federal Police” force will be composed of or organized are still unconfirmed.


Phase III Carabinarie training continues for the Federal Police.  The 2-1/4 Battalion and 4-3/3 Battalion graduated this advanced training on July 9. 


On 9 June, headquarters elements of the Federal Police’s Abu Risha Brigade (3/3 Brigade) were reported in southern Ramadi. This Anbari recruited brigade was last reported in Mosul.  If this brigade is permanently relocating, then this will be the first Federal Police Brigade permanently assigned to Anbar. 


The Ministry of Interior is still going to the dogs.   

"The Iraqi National Canine Program began as a small pilot-size program consisting of 29 canines trained in explosive detection. The canines were primarily used for force protection at facilities and other sites within the Ministry of Interior. The program is building capacity with a current planned increase to 112 canines. The strategic goal for the program is to train more than 400 canines." 


The first public report of K9 training in Ministry of Interior was in March 2009.  The training of K9 handlers and their dogs for the Iraqi Security Force continues to be part of the ongoing emphasis in Iraqis taking over counter-IED operations.


Iraq is "building a 160-km ditch, 3 meters deep and 3 meters across, to prevent people and vehicles from crossing the low populated vast desert that joins western Anbar province to Syria." The borders are getting more emphasis than previously as the Iraqi Security Forces take over.    


There is reporting that the Dhi Qar Emergency Police now has nine battalions.  The Emergency Police elements continue to expand as paramilitary elements are separated from trained Iraqi Police personnel.  The Emergency Police is still expected to transfer to the Federal Police as they are formally trained. 


Several articles have been published in July concerning Iraqi Security Forces.  So far this related series include:  

June 30, 2009: Commandos in the ISF

June 30, 2009: Iraqi Armor Developments

June 30, 2009: Iraqi Special Operations Force

June 30, 2009: The Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade

July 11, 2009: Near term tank upgrades to the Iraqi Army

July 15, 2009: Kurdish Regional Guards: The best OPSEC in Iraq

July 20, 2009: Iraqi Federal Police: More than a name change?

July 26, 2009: Low on the Iraqi MoI Totem Pole: Department of Border Enforcement

July 29, 2009: Iraqi Facilities Protection Force

July 31, 2009: Iraqi Aviation: Status and predicted force

Grandma - 3, Air Force - 0

There is a reason they call them weather-guessers...


Iraqi Airbases, current and future


To be strategically independent, a country needs a viable air force. 


The Iraqi Air Force has a long ways to go before it can effectively protect Iraq and support Iraq's ground forces.  It will be a decade, probably longer before the aviation components of Iraq are fully built and operational.


This timetable is not new information.  The Iraqi Minister of Defense has talked about a plan to achieve "strategic independence" by 2020 for over two years now.  "Strategic Independence" means a capable air force.  In May 2009, the Iraqi Minister of Defense was quoted as saying that the 2015 (Operational Independence) and 2020 (Strategic Independence) goals would not be met under the current budget. 


The reason that Prime Minister Maliki is now talking about changing the agreement and asking to keep US forces longer is that Iraq needs an air force to cover them until they have a real air force of their own.  The instability in Iran has awakened the Government of Iraq to the need to protect themselves.  Governments change and deals are broken.  Iraqi needs air protection against its unstable and unreliable neighbors until it has a fully capable military.


The current Iraqi Air Force is the equivalent of a training, transport, and reconnaissance wing.


Almost all of the additional 17 squadron's of planned aircraft for the Iraqi Air Force will not be delivered until after the official date the US military forces are to leave Iraq.  It will take one to two years of training time after delivery to bring those squadrons to operational readiness.  New air defense aircraft are not ordered as yet and could not start delivery prior to 2013.


While there is speculation by senior officials about used fighter aircraft being sold or donated to Iraq, there is no current deal.  Even if the decision to approve the transfer of the aircraft occurred tomorrow, it is questionable whether they could be made into operational squadrons by 2012.  Any transfer of US military aircraft will require congressional approval.


The Iraqi Air Force (IZAF) has only eight operational squadrons.  The IZAF is planned to have 38 squadrons.   Of the 30 unformed squadrons, aircraft orders and training identify 17 squadrons by type and aircraft.  The remaining 15 unidentified planned squadrons are expected to be a mix of Fighter, ground-attack, and helicopter squadrons. The Iraqi Air force is currently focused on building up base infrastructure to support the planned squadrons.


Operational Bases and Squadrons:

  • Taji Regional Air Base is the IZAF's primary helicopter base.
    • 2nd Utility Squadron is equipped with 16 Huey II and is used of medical evacuation plus search and rescue.
    • 4th Transport Squadron is equipped with 28 MI-17 and provides general transportation.  At least one detachment is in Basrah and the squadron is probably moving to Kut when the renovations are complete there. 
    • 15th Special Operations Squadron is equipped with 24 special operations variant MI17v5.  This squadron provides dedicated support to the Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF).
  • New Al Muthanna Regional Air Base shares the runways of Baghdad International Airport and is the primary IZAF transport base
    • 23rd Transport Squadron is equipped with three C-130E.  This squadron is to receive four C-130J-30 in 2010/2011.
    • 87th Reconnaissance Squadron is equipped with a mix of King Air 350 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft plus light transport variants of the King Air 350.  The squadron is expected to be full mission capable by the end of 2009.
  • Kirkuk Regional Air Base shares the runways of Kirkuk International Airport and is the IZAF's primary flight training base.
    • 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron is equipped with a mix of CH2000 reconnaissance, RC-208 Caravan ISR, and C-208 light transport aircraft.  This squadron was receiving Hellfire air-to-ground training in April 2009 and is expected to be certified this summer.
    • 12th (Rotary) Flight Training Squadron is equipped with 10 Jet Rangers and 10 OH-58s loaned by the US.
    • Flight Training Wing is not listed as a squadron but has a squadron's worth of fixed-wing training aircraft.  The FTW has five C-208 Caravan; 12 Cessna C172 and one King Air 350.  These aircraft will probably be split off from the training wing headquarters and become a basic flight training squadron.
  • Basrah/Shaibah Regional Air Base.  Operations currently conducted at Basrah International Airport are to be moved to Shaibah Air Base in 2010.  While the current plan is to shift operations completely, there is some discussion of the IZAF continuing to use Basrah International.
    • 70th Reconnaissance Squadron is equipped with a mix of CH2000 reconnaissance plus King Air 350 ISR and light transport aircraft.

Bases currently in renovation for operations by the end of 2009:

  • Kut Regional Air Base is under renovation and expects to have MI-17s based there.  This indicates (probably) the 4th Squadron or (possibly) a new MI-17 equipped squadron is to be based there.  Facilities are to include an ISR ground-station.
  • Ali (Tallil) Regional Air Base is under renovations.


Bases planned in 2011 and 2012:

  • Habbaniyah Regional Air Base (Camp Taqaddum) was surveyed for a training and/or logistics airbase in February 2009.  It is planned to be made operational in 2011.
  • Irbil Regional Air Base shares the runways with Irbil International Airport and is planned to be made operational in 2011.
  • Al Asad Regional Air Base was surveyed for by the IZAF in March 2009.    It is planned to be made operational in 2012.
  • H2 Regional Air Base is planned to be made operational in 2012.
  • Suwayrah Regional Air Base is planned to be made operational in 2012.


There was a reported survey of an area near Tikrit for establishing a helicopter base in February 2009, however, there was no report on the results of the survey.  Also, there are several operational civilian airports and current coalition airbases that could be used by the Iraqi Air Force that have not been mentioned as future Iraqi Airbases in reporting. 


In addition to the eight identified (nine if FTW included) operational squadrons, at least 17 more have planned squadrons have been identified by aircraft orders, proposed aircraft orders and training: 

  • 5x Fighter Squadron:  The Iraqi Air Force Chief of Staff has stated that he wants to buy at least 96 F-16C/D by 2020.  There is also speculation by Multi-National Force-Iraq's commanding general and the US Secretary of Defense concerning the possibility of used US F-16s being sold or donated to the IZAF.
  • 2x Light Attack Squadron: While 36 AT-6B were authorized to be ordered, no report of an actual order has been reported.  Even if this order is delayed or cancelled, the requirement for these light attack aircraft exists.
  • 1x Training Squadron:  Between 15 and 20 T-6A trainers have been ordered for delivery by the end of 2011.
  • 1x Training Squadron:  No delivery schedule has been published for the 20 Lasta-95 trainers ordered from Serbia.
  • 1x Training Squadron:  While T-50s have been reportedly ordered from Korea for the jet trainer role, numbers of aircraft and other potential ground-attack variants have not been officially reported.  It is probable that two or more Attack Squadrons are also ordered or will be.
  • 3x Transport or Special Operations (Helo) Squadron:  Five squadrons of personnel for MI-17s have been reportedly trained.  Two of those squadrons (4th and 15th) are operational.  Another squadron's worth of the special operations variant of the MI-17 is ordered and are to be delivered by August 2010.  The remaining two squadrons of trained cadre are to be equipped at a later date.
  • 2x Armed Recon (Helo) Squadron:  One squadron's worth of Bell-407s has been ordered for delivery by 30 Aug 2011.  The option for another squadron's worth is expected to be exercised and delivered by October 2012.
  • 2x Attack (Helo) Squadron:   One squadron's worth of  EC-635s have been ordered for delivery in 2011.  The option for another squadron's worth is expected to be exercised and delivered in 2012.


While the remaining planned 15 squadrons of IZAF aircraft are not identified in reporting, they can be speculated on (SWAG):

  • 2x possibly 4x Attack Squadrons with A-50s from Korea.
  • 5x Fighter Squadrons of additional US, French, and/or Chinese aircraft.
  • 1x Transport Squadron of additional C-130 or other medium transports.
  • 4x possibly 5x Special Operations or Transport (Helo) Squadrons of MI-17s.  Expect five special operations squadrons supporting ISOF and four-to-five transport squadrons supporting the Iraqi Army.
  • 1x Reconnaissance Squadron.
  • 1x Naval/Marine Support Squadron.  It might be 2nd Squadron re-designated and further equipped.  If so, then the additional transport (Helo) squadron will be needed.


Direct support of the four planned Iraqi Army corps will probably be from four Air Wings (Aviation Brigades) composed of a reconnaissance squadron, a (MI-17) transport squadron, and either an armed recon or attack (Helo) squadron.  Each of those wings would be under the operational control of the army corps.  It is also possible that the Kurdish Regional Guards will be designated a corps.  If that happens, they may or may not get a wing. 


Five special operations squadrons are expected to be direct support to the Iraqi Special Operations Force brigades:  One special operations squadron to support each ISOF brigade.  One is already operational and another squadron's worth of special operations configured MI-17s is on order for deliver by the fall 2010.


The additional fighter and ground attack aircraft are needed to build a credible air defense against the most likely threats.  The Iraqi Air Force Chief of Staff has stated he wants an air force comparable to Iran or Turkey.


In addition to the Iraqi Air Force, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MoI) has been shopping for aircraft.  In August 2008, Ministry of Interior officials were reported reviewing helicopters.  The types of helicopters they were reviewing were the same types used by the US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.  This indicates the helicopters were meant to be support for the Emergency Response Brigade.   The Emergency Response Brigade is expanding and expected to become an eight brigade force.  That means that eight special operations squadrons would be required to support those brigades.


Additional helicopter squadrons might be desired for MoI's Federal Police.  At least one battalion in each Federal Police division has had air assault training.  Half of the 1st Federal Police Division's battalions have had air assault training and experience.  An additional aviation brigade to support the Federal Police is very likely planned.


MoI's Department of Border Enforcement and the Ministry of Oil's Oil Police Directorate already receive reconnaissance support from the coalition and Iraqi Air Force.  Given the low priority for funding for those forces, the Iraqi Air Force will probably remain their primary support.

The Facilities Protection Force (FPS) was formed as a minimally-trained guard force.  Originally it was to be less than 10,000 personnel.  It became a monstrosity.  At its peak in 2007, the FPS claimed 150,000 personnel spread over 27 ministries and four autonomous departments. 


In January 2008, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) started taking over the FPS administration.  By April 2008, four months later,  the FPS payroll had been reduced to 98,000.  The other 52,000 either was transferred, arrested, fired, or had never existed.  The housecleaning of the FPS continues. 


The current plan is to organize the FPS into six divisions with 108,000 personnel.  This plan includes retraining and vetting.  Other than the Oil Police component, very little detail is known about the FPS. 


The Power Ministries are the Ministry of Oil and the Ministry of Electricity.  Both organizations have security elements.  Little detail is publically known about the Ministry of Electricity forces but, the Ministry of Oil’s Oil Police Directorate has been an ongoing rework-in-progress. 


The current Oil Police Directorate is not the first attempt to form a dependable oil facilities protection force.  There have been five since 2003:

  • The Oil Police started as just another element of the Facilities Protection Service.  Not particularly effective.  Minimal training.
  • In 2005, to improve oil security, the Strategic Infrastructure Battalions (SIBs) were formed in the Ministry of Defense to replace the Oil Police.  Initially they were a promising improvement.  They never fully replaced the Oil Police.
  • The SIBs were transferred to the Ministry of Oil and became part of the Oil Police in 2006.  Lack of follow-on training and partnering caused a rapid deterioration in their effectiveness.
  • In 2007, the decision was made to return the SIBs to the Ministry of Defense and put them through retraining and re-vetting.  The surviving elements were to be formed into the Iraqi Army’s 12th Infrastructure Division.  The Iraqi Army’s 12th Infantry Division officially commissioned in November 2008.  The fourth maneuver brigade of the 12th Infantry Division (49th Brigade) has not been organized and commissioned as yet, since it’s battalions are still in retraining.
  • In 2008, it was announced that the remaining Oil Police were to be retrained and expanded to three divisions with a total of 25 battalions.  The training is ongoing with 10 battalions operational, two battalions forming, seven battalions to be formed in 2009/2010, and six more battalions to form by 2012.  Training is conducted at K1 in Kirkuk with the assistance of the Iraqi Army.  This force is to take over the Iraqi Army' 12th Infantry Division's oil security duties by 2012.

The three oil police divisions are being formed for the north, central, and southern regions.  This is a direct mirror of the planned three FPS divisions.  The total number of battalions indicates only eight battalions per oil division.  Normal division structure in Iraq is twelve line battalions. 


Since the Power Ministries coordinate operations, it is probable that the Ministry of Electricity security forces will be organized into the Oil Police divisions, providing the missing battalions and bringing the divisions to strength. 


With the Power Police separated out into three regional divisions and the remaining FPS organizing into three more divisions, the FPS is becoming a six security division internal security force.  Half of the FPS divisions will be security for the Power Ministries. 


Very little data is known about the Facilities Protection Service.  The FPS has a poor reputation as a militia infiltrated group of private armies.  Very little has been reported concerning this grouping of forces or its cleanup, retraining, and reorganization.  This is a work-in-progress and the minimal reporting indicates most of the FPS is still a problem area.   Problems are not advertized. 


What little has been reported about the FPS tends to be about the Oil Police.  This indicates the OPD is in better condition and further along in reformation than the rest of the FPS. 


The known components of the OPD is listed in the Iraq Order of Battle on page 14.  If and when the remaining components become known, they will be added.


(Click on map for full size.) 


Most of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MoI) is focused on internal security.  Most MoI components have a secondary role against external forces.  Only one Ministry of Interior Service is completely focused on external security:  The Department of Border Enforcement. 


This difference in MoI service roles tends to give the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) a lower priority in the MoI.  MoI tends to be focused on the counter-insurgency fight.  There is at least one case of a DBE battalion being transferred to the Iraqi National Police.  Also, two of the DBE’s schools were used to train Iraqi National Police for 18 months, despite the DBE having its own significant backlog of recruits waiting to attend school.  Despite this lower priority, the DBE has steadily grown. 


The DBE is currently organized into five regions, 13 border brigades, and 52 battalions.  Additionally, the 26 Customs Police battalions have been added to the DBE structure and appear to be being organized into five Regional Customs Brigades.  Looking at the regional structure of the DBE, it is apparent that the DBE is still expanding and reorganizing.


The five Regions are divisions in all but name.  Regions III and V are short one border brigade and probably will expand their area by taking over parts of Regions II and IV when they gain their missing brigades.  At this time, 13 of the 15 total planned Border Brigades are operational. 


The DBE has only seven “commando” battalions and these are primarily in Regions II and III (3 each) with one in Region IV.  These are the motorized quick reaction force battalions.  Each of the 15 border brigades are planned to get one, and in some cases two of these motorized infantry battalions. 


The other 45 existing border battalions are static fort-based security formations.  They are based in platoon and company sized forts along the border.   


The addition of the Customs Police brigades is an ongoing reorganization.  It is part of the consolidation of the Customs Police with the Border Police.  Region I has the first of the customs brigades.  The rest of the regions are still reorganizing.  These brigades will vary in size based on the number of ports of entries.  


The planned standard structure of each of the five regions is:  

  • Regional headquarters including training battalion and logistics elements.
  • Three Border Brigades with three to five battalions each.  One or two “commando” battalions in each brigade.
  • Customs Brigade of three to six customs battalions.  This varies with the regions since some regions have more Port of Entries than others.  Region I is the only region reported to have formed a customs brigade so far.  Region IV probably will have two Customs Brigades due to the concentrated number of ports, airports, and border crossings in Basrah.
  • Region IV also has the Maritime Border Guard.  This is a battalion sized formation of four small patrol boat companies.


Aviation support for the Department of Border Enforcement is primarily provided by Iraqi Air Force reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters.  The DBE is reported to be operating UAVs.  It is possible that the Ministry of Interior will acquire its own aircraft.  With the DBE’s low priority, they are unlikely to get MoI aviation support until after the Emergency Response Force and the Federal Police are equipped.  


Unlike the rest of the Ministry of Interior, the Department of Border Enforcement’s one and only role is external security, guarding the borders.  This has caused them to be under-funded and low-priority.  Despite this, the DBE is progressing and growing in capabilities.


Current DBE force structure is included in the Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle.

According to RIA Novosti, approximately 320,000 are to be drafted this fall.  This compares to 133,000 in the spring and 219,000 last fall.  The draft is increasing, yet the Russian Army is reducing from 1.34 million to one million by 2012.


According to the article:  [QUOTE:

  • The general said the higher number of conscripts was due to the reduction of officer ranks, the scrapping the rank of warrant officers and cuts to contract personnel.   
  • As of January 1, 2009, the Russian Armed Forces numbered 355,000 officers and 140,000 warrant officers. 
  • "By the end of 2009, we will have 150,000 officers, all warrant officers will have been discharged or absorbed into other ranks, and we will have less contracted personnel,"
  • Smirnov said. "Therefore, we will have to draft over 300,000 people," he said. UNQUOTE]


Warrant officers in the Russian Army are all contracted personnel and fill the role of senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and techs.  Russian Warrants were established when the Soviet Army decided to convert to a professional army and needed to establish a professional senior enlisted cadre.   


The two decade-old goal of a professional Red Army is done.  These actions mean the Red Army is abandoning its conversion from a draftee force to a professional army.  Russia will have to depend on 18 month draftees for its army. 


It takes one-to-two years to properly train enlisted personnel, which is why US active-duty enlistments are normally four-years (eight year obligation).  By the time the Russian draftee knows what to do, they are done with their obligated service...

INP projected

The Iraqi National Police (INP) have been renamed the Federal Police. This renaming is probably part of a consolidation and/or reorganization of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior paramilitary police forces. 


Details beyond that the Iraqi National Police is part of the newly designated Federal Police have not been made public.  However, previous activity and reorganizations of Iraqi Police forces provide insights as to what is probably occurring.  What follows is speculation based on those insights.


The Iraqi National Police announced plans to expand to a minimum of a brigade in each province approximately two years ago.  However, there is insufficient funding for, or qualified personnel available for this expansion.  These factors indicated that existing police elements would need to be transferred and retrained as Iraqi National Police.


Since December of 2008, the Iraqi Police in the provincial commands have been being reorganized.  The fully trained Iraqi Police personnel have been assigned traditional police duties.  Some of the backlogs of untrained personnel have been trained and assigned traditional police duties.


The former military augmenters, tribal levees, and remaining untrained police personnel have been organized into paramilitary battalions.  These provincial paramilitary units are called the Emergency Police.


The Emergency Police are currently organized into three publically-known divisional commands, 25 known brigade commands, with (at least) 98 battalions assigned.  There were 103 known battalions but, at least five have been previously "Nationalized" and, joined with the Iraqi National Police's Emergency Response Unit (Battalion) to form the Ministry of Interior's Emergency Response Brigade.  This retraining and "Nationalization" started in the summer of 2008 and continues. 


This count of paramilitary forces does not include Kurdish Regional Guard forces filling similar roles in the autonomous region.


These provincial paramilitary police battalions are in two categories:

  1. The best and most trained are in the 41 publically known provincial Emergency Response Units (ERUs).  These are battalions that include at least one company's worth of SWAT trained personnel and provide the mobile provincial police paramilitary quick response forces. 
  2. The tribal levees and untrained police are primarily in the 57 Provincial Emergency Battalions (EBs).  The Emergency Battalions have a basic cadre of trained police and perform most of the guard and checkpoint functions.

There were 46 provincial ERUs but, five were retrained, re-equipped, and re-designated as the 2nd though 6th Emergency Response Battalions of the Ministry of Interior's Emergency Response Brigade (ERB).  There are unconfirmed indications of a "7th Emergency Response Battalion converting to the ERB.  Given the locations of the existing ERB forces, additional provincial ERUs are going to be transferred to the National Emergency Response Force to fill those gaps in coverage.


There is a reported 50 percent failure rate of personnel in the training course for the national level ERB.  This means only approximately half of the provincial ERU personnel will probably transfer over time, expanding the Emergency Response Brigade to a two division-equivalent size SWAT force under the direct command of the commander-in-chief (Prime Minister).  It is unlikely that the Emergency Response Force will rejoin the Federal Police. However, they could become the police component of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau. 


Those provincial SWAT trained personnel that do not go to the ERB (23 battalions worth), the 57 Emergency Battalions, and (at least) the Kurdish Regional Guards Special Police Division, plus the renamed Iraqi National Police, are probably are the forces combined or combining to form the Iraqi Federal Police.  This will convert the four division National Police into an 11 or 12 division-sized Federal Police.  The probable distribution of the Federal Police divisions is illustrated here



Effectively, this action will remove the existing paramilitary units from the authority of the provincial governors and Provincial Directors of Police (PDOPs) and place them under national command.  The governors and PDOPs will not be in a position to reward these paramilitary commands with promotions, etc.  These forces will still be available to assist the PDOPs as needed and on request but, they will no longer be in the position of providing private armies to the provincial governments and police chiefs. 


The Provincial Directors of Police will retain the trained Iraqi Police and will function as a conventional police force without the paramilitary elements.  This also removes most of the police training backlog from the PDOPs and consolidates that backlog onto the new Federal Police Service.


This probable course of action has been expected for two years.  It has been expected since the Iraqi National Police started talking about having at least a brigade in every province.  In order to build such a force, the consolidation of the paramilitary internal security forces has been a predicable course of action.  The probable reason it has taken so long and the largest problems that will go with this move are:
  1. The political resistance by the provincial and regional governments to reducing their power and authority by transferring these provincial forces from their command,
  2. The limited training levels of these provincial paramilitary forces, and
  3. The need to train and purge the existing INP so as to convert them into cadre prior to adding these undertrained provincial forces.


The primary advantage of this reorganization is a consolidated supply and command chain for the primary internal security paramilitary force.  


The Federal Police and Department of Border Enforcement acts as the reserve forces to the Iraqi Army in wartime.  The Federal Police is probably going to be organized into the equivalent of (at least) 11 to 12 Divisions.  Those divisions will probably be eight or nine motorized light infantry divisions and three light mechanized quick reaction force divisions. 


One unusual aspect is the 1st INP (now IFP) Division's battalions have been receiving as much airmobile training as all the rest of the INP combined.  Either the 1st Division is going to be used for cadre in this reorganization or the division may be employed as an airmobile quick reaction force vice motorized light infantry. 


The Federal Police will become the second largest Iraqi ground force service with this reorganization.


When the Federal Police is expanded and trained, it will replace the Iraqi Army as the primary internal security force in Iraq.  That will allow the Iraqi Army to focus on retraining and equipping for dealing with external enemies.


If this Ministry of Interior reorganization is occurring now, then the Federal Police is one, possibly two years from relieving the Iraqi Army of its current internal security duties.  If not, then the timeline for Iraqi Security Force improvements is further in the future.


[This is a modified version of the report on the Iraqi National Police and the Emergency Police that was to release on 17 July 2009.  The primary change is the indications and speculation that the expected reorganization/expansion/combining is already occuring.  I have not received a RFI response from GoI NMC, MoI, INP, or MNSTC-I.  And the MNF-I Press Desk is unwilling to provide details when asked about the reorganization/renaming of the Iraqi Federal Police.  They are referring me to the Iraqis...]

I was going to publish an article on the current Iraqi National Police this weekend.  It is now on hold. 


The Iraqi National Police has been renamed to the Iraqi Federal Police.


The last time the Ministry of Interior renamed the Mechanized Police Brigade, Public Order Police Division and the Special Police Commando Division into the Iraqi National Police, there was more to it than a renaming.


It was part of a reorganization and consolidation of those two divisions and the Mechanized Police into the Iraqi National Police.


This new name probably means the Ministry of Interior is reorganizing its paramilitary police forces.


Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Infantry Division and Kurdish Peshmurga soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 34th Brigade take a break during a clearing operation in the village of Kala Hussein, Iraq, on May 10. [Photo from DVIDS] 



 The Kurdish Regional Guards are the official and legal security force for the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq.  They are commonly called the Peshmurga and they are the third largest army in Iraq.  The Iraqi Army and (for now) the United States Forces in Iraq (AKA MNF-I) are the only two larger armies in Iraq. 


The Peshmurga also has the tightest operational security in Iraq.  This tight operational security is why little data is available about the Peshmerga organization.  That lack of data is why the Kurdish Regional Guards are not listed in the Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle 


The majority of the verifiable public details about the Kurdish Regional Guards have come from leaks during political negotiations between the Kurdish Regional Government and the Iraqi Government.  There are only five verifiable items about the current organization and size of the Peshmerga forces:

  1. The Kurdish Regional Guards are funded by the Iraqi government for a strength of 100,000 total personnel.  An additional 90,000 pensions were also negotiated and funded for the peshmurga 
  2. Of those 100,000 active personnel, two divisions (30,000) are to be transferred to the Iraqi Army.  They are the future 15th Mountain Division and 16th Mountain Division.  Despite this part of the agreement being settled in 2008, both divisions have not been officially commissioned as yet.
  3. There have been negotiations to transfer the Kurdish Regional Guards Special Police Division (~12,000) into the Iraqi National Police.  Public reporting indicates the negotiations have been inconclusive so far.
  4. The 34th Peshmerga Brigade has been partnered at company and battalion level with the Iraqi Army 4/1 Brigade in northern Diyala Province since at least April 2009.  The 34th Peshmerga Brigade is planned to be part of the 15th Mountain Division when transferred.  The 34th Peshmerga Brigade was the Kurdish brigade that was involved in the old Khaniqin incident that the press continues to cite when writing about Kurdish-Iraqi problems. Whatever problem the 34th KRG Brigade had with the Iraqi Army appears to have been settled some time ago.
  5. The Kurdish Regional Guards does have some armor.  When the old Iraqi 1st Mechanized Division and 5th Mechanized Division surrendered in 2003, the surviving armor was seized by the Peshmerga.  How much of that armor is operational or salvageable is not publically known.  


There are some additional general details that can be estimated from these known facts.  

  • Projecting the local police component for the three Kurdish provinces at 15,000 to 30,000 personnel, there are an additional five-to-six military/paramilitary division equivalents in the Kurdish Regional Guards. 
  • Since two divisions (30,000) are transferring to the Iraqi Army and one division (~12,000) has been under negotiations for transfer to the Iraqi National Police, there are at least two more division equivalents that will eventually shift to the Iraqi Army, and possibly one more to the Iraqi National Police.  This means the future Peshmerga force contribution to the Iraqi services are 15,000-30,000 Police, one-to-two INP divisions (12,000-24,000) and four IA divisions (60,000). 
  • Each of those Kurdish divisions will probably have (at least) a battalion's worth of salvaged armor.


At least 40,000 Kurds are already serving in the Iraqi Army and the existing Department of Border Enforcement Region 1 is a Kurdish division in all but name.  Eventually, the remaining 100,000 Peshmerga is planned to be absorbed by the Iraqi Security Forces.  The long-term existence of a second army in Iraq is just not politically acceptable...

Iraq is still in the early days of training on M1A1 Abrams tanks. All of the tanks received so far are still assigned to the Iraqi Army's Armor School at Besmaya. The first Iraqi company of M1A1 tanks has been mentioned in Warrior Training with an Iraqi Battalion in June. However, the identity of the battalion has not been released to the public. 


There are two probable options for the initial distribution of Iraqi M1A1 tanks:

  1. The political option: The first three battalions go to Baghdad, Basrah, and Mosul. The Government of Iraq is going to want to publically display their army's growing strength. These new M1A1 tanks are a political symbol.
  2. The military training option: There are five BMP1 equipped "Tank" Battalions in the Iraqi Army. They are the 1-29/7, 2-29/7, 3-44/11, 2-35/9, and 2-36/9 Battalions. These battalions are probably planned to upgrade and receive tanks to replace most of their BMP1s. The two battalions in 9th Division are planned to get T-72s donated from Slovakia when they finally arrive. The battalion in the 11th Division (Baghdad) and the two in 7th Division (Anbar) are candidates for upgrade to M1A1s.


These two options for the early upgrades are not mutually exclusive.


The Iraqi Army could be going to upgrade the BMP1 equipped "Tank" Battalions and then the two battalions from 7th Division could be deployed to Mosul and Basrah. 7th Division is part of the Iraqi Army's Quick Intervention Corps. Elements of the 7th Division have previously been deployed to Mosul and Basrah. 


Watch the BMP1 equipped "Tank" Battalions for upgrade by August 2010.

Big Lie Propaganda

The Big Lie Propaganda approach is:  If you state a big enough lie often enough, people will believe it.


This concept took off when the National SOCIALIST German Workers Party (Hitler) used it in the 1930s and 1940s and the Communist (Stalin) adopted it from them.


In this article, Murdoc askes "Spot Anything Questionable?":

"Early in the Iran-Iraq War, an AK-47-toting Iranian soldier watches smoke rising from burning oil refineries near the Iranian city of Abadan. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, armed and supported by the United States, used mostly M16s. Photo: Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis"  From Wired


What is being furthered in the caption is the big lie that the United States armed Saddam.


Iraq after the overthrow of the monarchy was a SOVIET client state.  The three largest providers of arms to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War were, in order of priority:  The USSR, China, and France.  Iraq used AK47s and still does predominatly use AK47s.


Iran was the predominate user of US weapons, purchased during the rule of the Shah.  After 1979, the USSR tried to bring Iran into its orbit and provided weapons to Iran from 1980 to 1983.  The three predominate arms suppliers to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War were the USSR, China, and North Korea.  Since 1983, AK47s are also the rifle used by the Iranian forces.


Neither side in the Iran-Iraq War used M16s.


Most of the world still considered the M16 to be a mickey-mouse piece of junk at that time (being polite here).


The closest the US came to providing weapons to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War was when the US Department of Agriculture built a pesticides plant in Iraq in 1980.  When it became known that Iraq had converted that plant to a chemical weapons plant, the program was terminated.


On the other hand, the US did provide weapons to Iran during 1986 (Iran-Contra).


The Big Lie that the US armed Saddam is just that, A LIE. 


On the other hand Russian, Ukrainian, and French munitions less than a year old were recovered in bunkers in Iraq during the invasion in 2003.  Despite those imports being a violation of UN sanctions and the manufactures being government owned.


I spent much of my time during the Iran-Iraq War supporting or deployed to the Mid-East.  We looked at the Iran-Iraq War as a RED-on-RED situation.  Both parties were hostile to US interests. 


The only US or UK weapons on the Iraqi side were captured from Iran (and later from Kuwait).  To this day, the predominate rifle in service used by Iran or Iraq is the AK47.  The first purchases of M16s by Iraq were when the Iraqi Ministry of Defense started purchasing them in 2006 for the new Iraqi Army.  Saddam was done by then...


(Of course, the most common current "big lie" is global warming.  Even the scientists that came up with it have stated their climate model was wrong.  But that is a different topic.)


Update:  As I have seen pointed out elsewhere.  Iranian Army used the H&K G3 assault rifle.  The IRGC and Iraq used AKs.

This Iraqi Security Force Update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during May and June 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle as of 30 June 2009 is published at Montrose Toast.   Previous updates were published at The Long War Journal. 


A May 22 report in the Christian Science Monitor stated:  "An Iraqi government plan aimed at transforming a counterinsurgency force geared at internal security to a larger, better-equipped Army that could defend Iraq's borders by 2020 has been scrapped." The report also stated that:  "The goal of a 300,000-strong counterinsurgency force by 2016 has also been derailed."  The article explains that the lowered government revenues are forcing a delay in developing and equipping the ISF.


The three phase plan for developing the Iraqi Security Force was:

  • Phase 1 (2006-2010):  Tactical independence.  The intention was for the ISF to be able to provide internal security at the end of this phase. 
  • Phase 2 (2011-2015):  Operational independence.  The intention was for the ISF to be able to provide internal security and the ground component for external security by 2016.  This is not going to schedule according to the report.
  • Phase 3 (2016-2020):  Strategic independence.  The intention was for the ISF to be able to independently defend Iraq against all threats by 2020.  This is not going to schedule according to the report. 


If the CSM press report is correct, then Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the ISF development plan will be delayed and the Iraqi Security Forces will be dependent on outside assistance to guarantee their independence into the 2020s. 


Iraqi Army  


Whenever a report about Kurdish-Iraqi relations mentions the old Khaniqin incident, it should be put in to perspective.  The Kurdish Brigade involved in that old incident is the 34th Peshmerga Brigade.  The 34th Peshmerga Brigade is partnered with the 4/1 Iraqi Army Brigade in operations in northern Diyala.  The 34th Peshmerga Brigade is also planned to be part of the future 15th Mountain Division. 


In May, the 35/9 Iraqi Army Brigade conducted a combined-arms live-fire exercise at Lutifiyah.  This is the second Iraqi Army brigade-sized CALFEX reported.   This exercise included a display of tanks, armored personnel carriers, Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles, and a M109 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer with Iraqi Markings.  The M109 was probably for display purposes only.   


Training of Divisional “Commando” Battalions continues.    "After an intense eight weeks of training, 65 Iraqi Soldiers from the Commando Battalion, 10th Iraqi Army Division marched across the Camp Dhi Qar parade field, near the operating base here during their graduation ceremony May 2."  Since the Iraqi Advisory Group was disestablished at the start of June, three of these Divisional “Commando” Battalions have been referred to as Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Battalions. 


The 12th Iraqi Army Division has started operating its divisional reconnaissance element. 


Other Iraqi Army training in May and June includes:

  • On June 27, the first public report of a 4th Battalion in the 20/5 Iraqi Army Brigade was noted.  It is unknown when the battalion was formed.  
  • The first report of airmobile training for the Iraqi Army 29/7 Brigade was noted in May.   This is probably training for the 29/7 Brigade’s scout/recon elements and/or the 3-29/7 Battalion.   
  • The training of the divisional Signal Tactical Operation Centers has started.  The program is following the tried-and-true “Train the Trainer” program.  
  • The first Iraqi Army M1A1 Abrams Tank class trained by Iraqis, graduated May 24, 2009 at the Besmaya Range, Iraq.  
  • After graduation, the first company of M1A1s participated in Warrior Training during June with an unidentified Iraqi Army battalion at Besmaya.  Warrior Training is a battalion refresure training program that has also been called “commando” training. 


Iraqi is still ordering more armor, but at a slower rate than originally planned.  According to Foreign Material Sales slides dated 5 Feb 2009, Iraq has ordered 140 M1A1 and has a current option for 140 more.  281 M1126 Strykers have been ordered and a current option for 119 more exists.  The significance of those numbers has already been addressed Iraqi Armor Developments.   


According to a request for information response by Major Ülo Isberg, Estonian Army, Public Affairs Officer, NATO Headquarters on May20:  "As per your inquiry, I have been told that the Iraqi government is discussing transportation and refurbishment costs involved with the Slovakian T72s.  No timeline has been given. Should I become aware of any changes I will advise you."  Apparently the two battalions worth of T72s are still hung up in billing and transportation. 


The Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle (ILAV Badger) Maintenance Facility at Taji has been turned over to the Iraqi Army.   


On June 4, an erroneous report was published concerning the 5/2 Iraqi Army Brigade.  The 5/2 Brigade is not new.  The 5/2 Brigade was getting new built facilities. 


Iraqi Air Force, Navy, and Iraqi Special Operations Force


The Iraqi Air Force continues to focus on developing its reconnaissance, attack and transport elements.  The new 87th Reconnaissance Squadron is planned to be fully mission capable in early 2010.   According to the 5 February 2009 Foreign Material Sales slide, Iraqi has ordered 27 armed Bell 407 helicopters and has an option for 26 more, plus Iraq has ordered 22 Mi-17 SOF helicopters.


On May 15, the Iraqi Patrol Ship “Fatah” (PS701) commissioned.  After a shakedown cruise and transit, the “Fatah” arrived at Umm Qasr on June 22.   The article on the Iraqi Special Operations Force already addressed the changes in ISOF in May and June.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior


The Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigade continues to expand by “nationalizing” provincial Emergency Response Units.  "The 6th Battalion, Emergency Readiness Brigade, with Coalition forces advisors, arrested 3 suspected terrorists in an early morning mission in Baqubah June 14. It was the first mission for the 6th Battalion since becoming a nationalized force."  Likewise, Hillah SWAT has been confirmed as the 3rd Battalion of the ERB.  The probable expansion plans for the ERB were also addressed separately.


Phase III Carabinarie training continues for the Iraqi National Police.  "The Iraqi National Police held a graduation ceremony April 30 at Camp Dublin to commemorate the completion of advanced unit training for members of both the 3rd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division and the 2nd Battalion, Al Askarian Brigade, 3rd Division."  The next course, which will be the ninth iteration, is scheduled to load two battalions which will be 900 personnel. These will be the 2nd Battalion, Al Basrah Brigade, 4th Division and the 4th Battalion, Al Askarian Brigade, 3rd Division."  This is also the first report of the 4-1/3 INP Battalion.


Elements of the 3/1 INP Brigade have been receiving air assault training and experience.  More elements of the 1st National Police Division have received airmobile training than the rest of the National Police combined.  This could mean that they are to be the airmobile INP response division.


The provincial Emergency Police continues to be expanded, reorganized and units are being redesignated.   


The Provincial Emergency Police Emergency Response Units are already transferring to the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigade.  The Emergency Battalions and those ERUs that do not transfer to the MoI’s ERB will probably retrain and transfer to the National Police or Department of Border Enforcement.


Since when is the enforcement of a nation's law called a "military coup".  The Honduran President was removed at the orders of the Honduran Supreme Court and the Legislature.  That is not a coup, that is a legal firing.  It is known as impeachment in the US.


Even the Archbishop doesn't want the aspiring "el Presidente for Life" back.


The only thing the Honduran Army did wrong was in not jailing him for trial and executing him for treason.  They showed mercy and escorted him out of the country instead.  Probably figured the incompetant lightweight Chavez puppet was not worth the cost of a trial.


And the US agreeing with Chavez and Castro?  Their entire foreign policy is:  Eliminate the US.


God save US all from fools and politicians.  But then, I am being redundant...


The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle Page is now complete.

Please advise if you see errors. 

The program that I built the pages on is not what I am used to...

A summary of the changes since 30 April will be published in the next week.


For now, have a happy 4th of July weekend. 

DJ Elliott

There are some common misperceptions concerning the use of the term "commando" with regards to the Iraqi Security Forces. These misperceptions are furthered by the traditional, political, and exaggerated uses in reporting and press releases. Over 100,000 Iraqi Security Force personnel, one-sixth of the forces. are commonly referred to as "commandos" by reporters, US military public affairs, and the Iraq forces. Fewer than 9,000 are "commandos" in the western sense of the term."

The western usage of the term "commando" is for highly trained, highly capable shock troops used primarily in small unit raiding. In Iraq, to quote Major Jason Bender, Executive Officer 10th Iraqi Army Division Military Training Team: "'s a status symbol over here to call a unit commando. Iraqis will name all their units "commando" if they can in print, it makes them look special."

US Military Public Affairs Officers (PAO) also facilitate this exaggerated use of the term "commando" by mis-using it in their releases when reporting on the activities and training of Iraqi Army line battalions. Thus the PAOs further promulgate an exaggeration of the capabilities of many Iraqi units.

Exaggerating your side's strength and capabilities, especially when talking to press, is normal throughout the world. In Bolivia, brigade and even battalion sized units are listed as divisions. In the Middle East, this exaggeration is even greater, it is an art form. Unfortunately, most western reports and reporters do not recognize or filter for these exaggerations in their reports.

In the old Iraqi Army, the units designated as "commando" filled the role that cavalry, scouts, reconnaissance, and designated quick reaction force units fill in the conventional US military. This is still mostly true in the current Iraqi Security Forces.

Iraqi Ministry of Interior

In all of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MoI) Forces, there is only a small number of Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) battalions actually designated "commando". These are the motorized DBE battalions used as quick reaction forces. Most of the DBE is static based in small forts and not motorized. Other than being more mobile, these "commando" battalions are no more capable than the rest of the DBE battalions.

The western press still mistakenly refers to the Iraqi National Police as "commandos." The Iraqi National Police was formed when the Special Police Commandos and the Public Order Police were merged in May 2005. Even then, those forces were not "commandos" except in name. The Iraqi National Police has not had a legally designated "commando" formation since 2005.

The only formation in the Ministry of Interior that could be called commando in the western sense of the word is not called “commando”. The Emergency Response Brigade is the Ministry of Interior's high-end special operations force. But they are not called "commandos." They do not require that status symbol. They are just the ERB.

Ministry of Defense

There are three services in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense that use the term "commando" to designate units. In each case the definition of "commando" is different. Only one of those services has commandos in the western sense of the word.

In the Iraqi Marines, the term "commando" is used to identify the boarding party and platform security trained 1st Marine Commando Battalion. The 2nd Marine Battalion is responsible for port security and is not currently trained in waterborne boarding operations.

In the Iraqi Army, the common use of the term commando is the same as the old Iraqi Army. It is primarily the term used for what the US military calls the scouts, cavalry, reconnaissance, and quick response battalions. In most cases, the only common advanced training is in helicopter-borne operations. Airmobile operations are part of the “Warfighter” refresher training program that is eventually being given to all Iraqi Army battalions.

Some Iraqi Army units are wearing "commando" markings only because their commander is politically connected and sent his troops to school to get the shoulder flash. The 17th Iraqi Army Division is somewhat of an exception to that rule. One of only two official Commando schools is co-located with the 17th Division headquarters. Until the summer of 2008, the Iraqi Army 4-6 Brigade (now the 17th Division) was the recruiting source for commandos in the Iraqi Special Operations Force. However, the 17th Division is more like the equivalent of airborne/air assault troops, not commandos.

The Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is the only Ministry of Defense commando force in the western sense of the term. They are small unit raid forces originally trained by US Special Operations Forces. They still work with US Special Operations Forces in Iraq.

Until 2008, ISOF normally got their recruits from the Iraqi Army 4-6 Brigade. In the fall of 2007, only 36 out of 1,200 students graduated the three-month training program. Those 36 went to the 2nd Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force Battalion. The top 10 percent of the failures went to the ISOF regional commando battalions being formed. The remainder returned to the 4-6 Brigade. The practice at that time was to run four classes per year.

The new recruiting and training program receives nominees from the civilian community. They go through the Selection Course at the Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School (ISWCS). The top 10 percent of the selection course go on to the Operator Training Course, those in the 70-90 percentile go on to the ISWCS Commando Course, and those in the 50-70 percentile go to ISOF support units. The bottom 50 percent go home. The Operator Training Course (OTC) has a high fail rate and graduation is mandatory to get into 2nd Battalion. Those that fail OTC get a chance at Commando School which still has a fairly high fail rate. Those that fail the Commando School, go to support units or go home.

When reading of "commandos" in the Middle East, readers should be aware of these details.  Most commandos in the region are just infantry by western standards...

Iraq has decided to purchase M1126 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers for the APC component of their armor and mech forces.  The Strykers will probably be used with the M1A1 Abrams tanks also purchased and being purchased.

As of May 2009, Iraq has ordered 140 M1A1 tanks and has an option for 140 more.  The recently announced purchase of 271 M1126 Stryker APCs includes an option for 129 more.  The first order of M1A1s started arriving in March 2009 and all 140 are to be delivered by September 2010.  The first operational company of M1A1 crews graduated May 24. 2009

This mix of tanks and APCs provides indications as to how they are going to be fielded.

The initial orders of 140 M1A1s and 271 Strykers fit the numbers needed for:

  • Three Mech Brigades of one Tank Battalion and two Stryker Battalions each.
  • Plus two Training Battalions (one of each type).
The three Mech Brigades will probably be stationed in Baghdad, Mosul, and Basrah for political reasons.  The Iraqi government is going to want to show off its growing strength and independence.   Those cities are not just hot spots, they are the three largest cities in Iraq.  Likely forces to get these Mech upgrades are:
  • Baghdad:  Either 11th Division or one of the "Preatorian" Brigades (President Brigade or Baghdad Brigade).
  • Mosul:  Probably the 3rd Division.
  • Basrah:  14th Division.
The options of another 140 M1A1s and 129 Strykers fit the numbers needed for:
  • Two Armor Brigades of two Tank Battalions and one Stryker Battalion each.
  • Plus one additional Stryker Battalion to round out the training elements and form a Mech Training Brigade.
These additional brigades are also likely to be split up among Iraqi Army divisions in key areas primarily with the Quick Intervention Corps (QIC).  Candidate divisions are (in order of probability):
  • 7th Division/QIC in Western Anbar.
  • 1st Division/QIC in Eastern Anbar.
  • 5th Division in Diyala (Iranian border).
  • 18th Division forming in Maysan (Iranian border).
  • New Division planned for Wassit (Iranian border).
This provides a total of two Tank Brigades and four Mech Brigades, or the equivalent of the tank and APC components for two mechanized divisions.  However, these forces are just the initial orders.  By spliting the first six brigades up among several divisons and a training brigade, they provide training cadre for those divisions' continued upgrade, provide heavy quick reaction forces in key areas, and provide a political show of force.

Iraq had planned to have nine or ten heavy divisions by 2020.  This plan is being revised due to the budget impact of the reduced price of oil.  However, armor and helicopter purchases appear to the the priorities with other component equipment being delayed. 

The press has a habit of reporting from a position of ignorance. An example is in the recent reporting that the Iraqi Special Operations Force is now 10,000 strong.

The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau is the unlegislated Iraqi equivalent to the US Department of Homeland Security and is currently 10,000 personnel according to its current boss. There is legislation pending in Parliment (for over a year now) to legally establish the CTB as a separate ministry. For now, the CTB is funded from the Prime Minister's contingency funds. The CTB answers directly to Iraqi Commander-in-Chief, the Prime Minister. That is what press is basing the claim that the Iraqi Special Operations Force is now 10,000 personnel. The reporters are confusing different elements of the Iraqi Security Forces.

The Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is officially the Iraqi Army Counter Terrorism Command. It is a 4,500 man force that is recruited equally from Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish elements. It is the Iraqi equivalent to the US Military's Special Operations Command and is funded by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. This is the subordinate "teeth" component that is currently under the operational command of the Counter Terrorism Bureau, but it also has a role supporting the Iraqi Army against external threats. There are two brigades in ISOF:

1st Special Operations Brigade is based at Baghdad and includes:

  • 1st Commando Battalion
  • 2nd Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force Battalion
  • 5th Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 3rd ISOF Brigade Support Battalion
  • 4th ISOF Training Battalion (otherwise called the Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School)
  • 15th Special Operations Squadron based at Taji and providing air detachments throughout Iraq.
2nd Special Operations Brigade commissioned June 1, 2009, is responsible for the Regional Commando Battalions (RCB):
  • 6th Regional Commando Battalion is based at Basrah
  • 7th Regional Commando Battalion is based at Mosul
  • 8th Regional Commando Battalion is based at Baqubah
  • 9th Regional Commando Battalion is based at Al Asad
  • ISOF Garrison Support Unit (Battalion) is based at Baghdad and has support detachments with each of the RCBs.
The Commando Battalions are the Iraqi equivalent to the US Rangers or UK Paras. The 2nd ICTF Battalion is the Iraqi equivalent to the US Delta Force or UK Special Air Service. US and UK Special Operations troops have worked with these forces since 2003. They were trained by US and UK Special Operations troops until their own training elements formed in 2006.

Since 2008, the recruiting for ISOF has been equally from personnel nominated by Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish tribal sheiks. From nomination they go to the Selection Course. Only half pass this course and go on to further training and service with ISOF. The bottom 50 percent are sent home.

The top 10 percent of the Selection Course go to the Operator Training Course. A little over half pass OTC. Graduation of OTC is required to join the 2nd ICTF Battalion.

The next 20 percent of the Selection Course and those that fail OTC go to the Commando Course. About 70 percent pass and go on to duty with a command battalion.

The remaining 20 percent and those that fail the Commando Course are assigned to the supporting logistics forces.

The disposition of the RCBs makes little geographic sense unless you consider the primary role of the Ministry of Defense. This is especially true when you note that there are no ISOF bases between Baghdad and Basrah.

The Ministry of Defense's primary duty is to protect against external threats. Internal security is its secondary duty. The Ministry of Interior is the primary internal security force. Like the UK's Special Air Service, the Iraqi Special Operations Force is available for internal security, but it retains a wartime special operations role with the Iraqi Army. It is organized and based for that wartime function.

The Iraqi Army plans to have four corps in its structure. The 1st Special Operations Brigade would be part of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command's reserve forces. Each of the RCBs in 2nd Special Operations Brigade are probably going to grow into separate brigades over the next five-to-ten years. They are based for special operations support of the four future Iraqi Army corps in a war with an external enemy:
  • 6th Commando Battalion: wartime support to the southern Corps.
  • 7th Commando Battalion: wartime support to the northern Corps.
  • 8th Commando Battalion: wartime support to the central Corps.
  • 9th Commando Battalion: wartime support to the Quick Intervention Corps.
Press reporting about the Iraqi Special Operations Force has been and continues to be wildly inaccurate. Most reporters do not have the basic knowledge of Iraqi Security Forces organization or even the basic military knowledge to accurately write about the Iraqi Security Forces.

A common misperception is that the Iraqi Army's duty is primarily for internal security in Iraq. Internal security is a secondary role for Iraqi military forces. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior owns the Iraqi Police forces and the police forces are the primary internal security element in Iraq. As the Ministry of Interior forces become capable, the Iraqi Army shifts to training and equipping for its primary role of defending against external threats.

Of note, external security is an Iraqi Ministry of Interior secondary role. The Ministry of Interior provides the wartime reserve forces for mobilization since the Iraqi Army does not have a reserve component. This is part of the reason why many of the Ministry of Interior forces have a distinctly paramilitary structure.

Since mid-2008, the local Iraqi Police have been separating the trained police, paramilitary police, and untrained police. The trained Iraqi Police are to be retained by the Provincial Directors of Police. The paramilitary police are being absorbed by MoI's national police forces. The untrained are being trained and assigned as needed to both.

The high-end Iraqi Police paramilitary special operations force is the Ministry of Interior's Emergency Response Brigade.

In the Summer of 2008, the Iraqi National Police Emergency Response Unit quietly became the Ministry of Interior's Emergency Response Brigade. This was done by "nationalizing" four provincial Emergency Response Units (ERUs), retraining them, and combining them with the Iraqi National Police's (INP) Emergency Response Unit. The new Brigade was removed from provincial and INP command and placed under the direct control of the Iraqi Commander-in-Chief, the Prime Minister.

This retraining, re-subordination, and re-designation continues with the addition of a 6th Battalion to the ERB in May/June 2009. The Baqubah ERU was "nationalized" and re-designated the 6th Battalion, ERB.

Emergency Response Units are the SWAT Battalions in the Iraqi Police. While the provincial ERUs are normally not all SWAT trained, at least a company's worth of personnel is SWAT trained in each provincial ERU. There are 42 more publically known provincial Emergency Response Units (Battalions) in the Iraqi provincial police forces.

How many of these 42 paramilitary police battalions will be "nationalized" is not known. Many will probably be absorbed by the Iraqi National Police and the Department of Border Enforcement. If half of the existing provincial ERUs are transferred to the ERB, then it will grow to a two-division equivalent sized force. If all ERUs are transfered, then the ERB will grow to a four-division sized force.

There are also at least 56 publically known provincial Emergency Battalions. Most of these formations are minimally trained tribal levees. These lesser capable formations will probably be retrained and absorbed by the INP and DBE over time.

It appears that the plan for the Emergency Response Brigade is a mirror of the Iraqi National Police plan to put at least one brigade in each province. The Emergency Response Force is apparently establishing a battalion per province, starting with the problem areas. The current structure of the ERB is:

MoI Emergency Response Brigade headquarters is in Baghdad

  • 1st Battalion is based in Baghdad, it is the former INP ERU. Re-designated in Summer 2008.
  • 2nd Battalion is based in Kut, it is the former Kut (SWAT) ERU. Re-designated in Summer 2008.
  • 3rd Battalion is based in Hillah, it is the former Hillah (SWAT) ERU. Re-designated in Summer 2008.
  • 4th Battalion is based in Tikrit, it is the former Tikrit (SWAT) ERU. Re-designated in Summer 2008.
  • 5th Battalion is based in Mosul, it is the former Mosul (SWAT) ERU. Re-designated in Summer 2008.
  • 6th Battalion is based in Baqubah, it is the former Baqubah (SWAT) ERU. Re-designated in May/June 2009.
  • ERB Training Battalion is based in Baghdad.
The Iraqi Security Force is still improving and restructuring. The current provincial paramilitary Iraqi Police forces are being absorbed into the national level Iraqi Police forces like the ERB, INP and DBE. The Emergency Response Brigade (Force) is getting the cream of the crop of those paramilitary police forces.

DJ Elliott