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At this point, it is impossible for the Iraqi Air Force to field a credible air defense prior to 2018-2020.  Any delays in delivery or training, reductions in funding, or failures to develop the base infrastructure will make the eventual achievement of a credible air defense even later. 


The combined forces of the Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi Army Air Corps are only recon, transport, training and support groups [wings].  It is one of the weakest air forces in the Middle-East – on par with Lebanon’s Air Force. Until ~2016, when they might reach parity with Kuwait’s small Air Force, Iraqi aviation services will only be a speed bump to any aggressive neighbor.


Iraqi Air Force [IqAF]


The target strength of the IqAF is 21-23 squadrons of which 7 are formed but, are under strength.  None of these existing squadrons are jet-equipped so far; however, Iraq has decided on new Block 52 F16s and used Mirage 2000s for its initial fighter force.  The first fighter squadron’s aircraft [18 used Mirage 2000s] are to arrive in 2012 [first 6 new F16s in 2013].  If the pilots train in France prior to delivery, then squadron level coordinated ops training can begin then and provide the IqAF with 1 operational combat capable fighter squadron by 2014.


Iraq needs a minimum of 5 fighter squadrons to provide a credible basic air defense capability.


The Iraqi Government does not buy more than a year’s budget’s worth of capital equipment at a time. This order of 18 used Mirage 2000s and 6 new F16s should be looked at as just the first annual order of fighters.


Based on existing, ordered, and required aircraft, the IqAF is to be organized into 7 wings:

  • 4 Fighter Wings of 3 Squadrons each [16-18 fighters per squadron].  Aircraft to be purchased are a mix of F16/Block 52 and Mirage 2000s.  At 6 annual purchases of 18 used Mirage 2000s/6 new F16s each and 4 additional annual purchases of 18 new F16s each, the last of this planned fighter force will be purchased in 2019 and operational by 2023.  This is a 12 squadron planned force.  The 6 squadrons of used Mirage 2000s will probably reach the end of their service life in 2025, which means low rate purchases [of Rafale?] to replace these used fighters will probably begin after the last of the initial 10 annual purchases in 2020.
  • 1 Reconnaissance Wing of 3-4 Squadrons.  3 of these squadrons are formed but under strength.  The 3rd Squadron is equipped with a mix of 5 Cessna 208 Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance [ISR], 3 armed ISR, and 5 Light Transport Aircraft [LTA].  The 87th Squadron is equipped with a mix of 10 King Air 350 ISR and 14 LTA.  The 70th Squadron is equipped with 16 CH2000 and 2 Seeker ISR aircraft.  All of these prop and turboprop recon and light transport aircraft can only function in a permissive air environment – they are dead in any air-to-air/surface-to-air threat environment.  An additional squadron equipped with more combat survivable jet reconnaissance aircraft is probably planned.  The Reconnaissance Wing is dispersed between Kirkuk, New Al Muthanna, and Tallil with a fourth squadron probably planned for Al Asad.
  • 1 Transport Wing of 2-3 Squadrons.  Only the 23rd Squadron is formed but under strength with only 3 C-130E and 6 more C-130J on order.  Another squadron equipped with AN-32s is starting to form – 10 AN-32s have been ordered with 3 delivered and 3 per year delivering in 2011-2013.  A third transport squadron is probably planned.  The Transport Wing is based at New Al Muthanna. 
  • 1 Training Wing of 4 Squadrons.  3 training squadrons are formed and equipped with 12 Cessna 172s [basic flight], 10-20 Lasta 95s [intermediate], and 15 T-6A [advanced].  The 24-25 aircraft for a fourth [Jet] training squadron are to be purchased.  The competition has been between the Korean T-50, British Hawk, or Italian Maki 346 trainers.  However, recent reporting indicates the Iraqis are considering buying used Czech L159 instead, which indicates a budget issue.  The Flight Training Wing is based at Tikrit with the new Air Academy. 


The IqAF basing is fairly clear except for a limited number of bases in southern and western Iraq.  The IqAF needs additional basing between Baghdad and Tallil [Ali Base at Nasiriyah] plus a base in western Anbar.  They will probably use the existing international air ports as forward operating bases.


The only confirmed planned fighter base is Qayyarah West.  Its new assigned commander stated that they will eventually get 3 F16 squadrons and an AAC helicopter squadron.  Tallil and New Al Muthanna [Baghdad International] are also likely fighter bases.  Where the fourth fighter wing will be based is not clear.


Iraqi Army Air Corps [AAC] 


The target strength of the AAC is 17 squadrons of which 4 are formed and 4 are forming.  Basing is still being developed and will be shared with the IqAF.  Based on existing, ordered, and required aircraft, the AAC is to be organized into 4 Aviation Brigades with 4 squadrons each plus a training squadron.

  • The 4 Squadrons formed are the 2nd Scout [UH-1], 4th Transport [Mi-17], 12th Helicopter Training [Bell 206/OH-58], and 15th Transport/Air Assault [Mi-17] Squadrons.
  • The 4 Squadrons forming are the 21st Scout [Bell 407], 88th Scout [SA-342], ? Scout [EC-635], and ? Transport [Mi-17] Squadrons. 
  • The 9 additional Squadrons planned are 3 Scout [Options for additional Bell 407, SA-342, and EC-635 Squadrons.], 2 Transport [Crews already trained for 2 Mi-17 Squadrons], and 4 probable Attack Squadrons [Reportedly they want AH-64s.]. Each Border Province with Syria/Iran requires a base - at least a contingency base.  Those are wartime Corps Sectors.  The reported planned basing does not properly cover Maysan, Diyala, and Anbar.


The 12th Helicopter Training Squadron is relocating to Habbeniyah to be co-located with the new Army Air Corps College.


[While there are currently no indications of this, it is possible that additional squadrons will be formed by reducing the number of helicopters per squadron from 24 to 16.  This would increase the probable planned aviation brigades to 5-6 with a total of 21-25 squadrons, but would not increase the number of aircraft.]


Iraqi Air Defense Force


So far there are 4 Sector Operations Centers formed or forming.  These are at Kirkuk, Al Asad, Taji, and Tallil.  Their ground radar coverage leaves major tracking gaps in low altitude coverage.  Even with the planned IqAF, AAC, and civil air port radar coverage networked - there are still major low altitude gaps in Maysan, Diyala, and Anbar.  No surface-air missile or gun purchases have been reported.  There are also no reports of airborne radar systems to fill the low-altitude gaps.


Iraqi Navy and Marine support


The Iraqi maritime forces require at least 1 squadron of helicopters for support.  Previous reporting had mentioned the purchase of French helicopters for this role.  Reporting has since dried up.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior [MoI] Air Corps


This element is planned but not formed yet.  The MoI plans to purchase utility and scout helicopters to support the Department of Border Enforcement and the MoI Emergency Response Force.  At least 5 helicopter squadrons are required – possibly organized into an eventual 3-5 aviation brigades.




The Kurdish Regional Guards are reported to have a helicopter Observation Squadron and desires to purchase more helicopters.  Probably plans to organize its own aviation brigade.




The Iraqi Aviation forces are developing but, will not be able to effectively defend their air space until 2018-2020 at the earliest.  Any further delays push this eventual capability into the 2020s.  Until then, Iraqi Aviation is an army-centric support, transport, and training force.


[I hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.]



Link to larger map. 


[Disclaimer:  This is a speculation piece.  If 60 percent of this turns out correct, I will consider it good.  Until (if) the Counter-terrorism Law is passed and a legal structure authorized, this force is limited to what the Prime Minister’s Emergency Fund can support.]


Unity of command is stressed by militaries because; divided command structures have cost battles and wars throughout history. So why are militaries, especially ground forces, not unified?


There is a rarely discussed factor about military organization and why it is almost always divided. "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Concentration of military power in one organization, especially ground forces, invites military coups and dictatorships. Even splitting the forces [power] between 2 ministries just means that the more powerful ministry gets to choose the dictator.


The catch is that overly divided militaries leave a country’s armed forces weak and dysfunctional in the face of foreign attack. 

The ground forces and communications are the key elements for military coups. The most common compromise made to reduce the possibility of a coup while reducing the disruption of a divided command is to divide the ground forces into three separate components with the better-trained components being smaller to balance them. The smallest and most elite of these component ground forces is usually given the honor of guarding the government [praetorians]. This forces any potential dictator to gain control at least two of the three ground forces to secure power or to perform a coup. Rivalry between these forces is usually encouraged, as they may be called on to shoot at each other in event of an attempted coup.


This is true of all types of governments, whether they be dictatorships, republics, or democracies.  In the US, the Troika was established by President Washington after the Continental Army offered him the Kingdom at least 3 times.  He established the division of US ground forces into the State Militias [National Guard], the Continental Army [US Army], and the US Marine Corps.  The USMC, as the smallest and most elite force, received the honor of guarding the White House and the US Embassies. With the exception of the civil-war, when both the Army and the States Militias split on regional lines, this has been an effective deterrent to military rule in the US.


In Iraq, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) controls the largest ground forces in personnel size. The Iraqi MoI currently includes the Iraqi Police, Federal Police (FP), Emergency Response Force (ERF), Department of Border Enforcement (DBE), Customs Police, Oil Police Directorate, and Facilities Protection Service. Three of those services [FP, ERF, and DBE] have a secondary role augmenting the Iraqi Army in event of a mobilization against a foreign threat.


The Iraqi MoI has more than twice as many personnel as the Ministry of Defense (MoD). However, the MoI forces are dispersed and relatively lightly armed compared to the MoD forces.  The MoD currently includes the Iraqi Army (IA), Air Force, Navy, and Marines.


Then there is the delayed but slowly evolving third leg of this troika: The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), which operates as a de facto third ground force but, has not been legally authorized by the Iraqi Parliament in the 3 years since the Office of the Commander-in-Chief [Prime Minister] established it.

Counter Terrorism Service


The Counter Terrorism Bureau was first proposed over 3 years ago.  The Prime Minister apparently thought that the Counter Terrorism Law authorizing this new ministry would pass in short order, since the operational command of the IA’s Iraqi Special Operations Force was shifted to the CTB.  The Iraqi Parliament did not agree.


There has been a resistance to any organization that appears to be a new Republican Guard.  This has hamstrung development of this service and left the Ministries of Interior and Defense officially splitting power of the armed services.  However, there are major elements of the MoD/MoI that are not under their ministry’s control – just as ISOF has not been under the IA’s operational control since it was assigned to the CTB [Since renamed the Counter Terrorism Service.].  Those potential additions to the CTS, if and when the Counter Terrorism Law is passed, are described below:


Ministry of Defense elements


While there are signs of additional divisions forming in the Iraqi Army, the Minister of Defense is talking about a reduction in the size of the Iraqi Army.  His comments do not make sense until you realize that:

  1. There are 3 division-equivalents of personnel that are probably transferring to the CTS from the IA. 
  2. Most of the elements for the planned additional 4 IA divisions are already built – all but 1 IA division has more than the standard numbers of line battalions.  The IA is at least 29 battalions over standard strength for the current 14 commissioned Divisions [35 by my count].  That accounts for 2 of the 4 planned additional divisions.  The 2 planned mountain divisions already have manning from the KRG under IA training.


Iraqi Special Operations Force: 

ISOF is the only combat force assigned to the CTS at this point.  The planned size of this element is 5 brigades.  Based on the 1st ISOF Brigade structure and reported BTR80 training, these 5 brigades are to include a HQ Battalion, Support Battalion, and 3 combat battalions.  The combat battalions are to be an air mobile battalion trained in close-quarters assault, a light mechanized commando battalion for perimeter security, and intelligence/reconnaissance battalion.


The delay in authorizing the CTS has also delayed the expansion of ISOF.  The IA is only providing minimal support to this nominal subordinate since they expect to lose it.  This has hindered development of the best force in the ISF.  While ISOF has its own recruiting and training program separate from the IA, the IA is supposed to eventually transfer 1,800 personnel to ISOF.  This transfer has been delayed for over a year now.


Presidential Brigades: 

The 2 Presidential Brigades are officially IA but, are under the control of the National Operations Center and responsible for protection of the President, Vice-Presidents, and Prime Minister.  Their assigned role does not fit with the duties of the IA.  Personal security of governmental officials is more in line with the duties of the CTS.


Independent Protection Battalions: 

The 14 Independent Protection Battalions are officially IA but, are under the control of the National Operations Center and responsible for protection of members of the Council of Ministers and the Council of Representatives.  Their assigned role does not fit with the duties of the IA.  Personal security of governmental officials is more in line with the duties of the CTS.


56th IA Mechanized Brigade: 

The 56th Brigade is administratively part of the IA 6th Division but, is under the control of the National Operations Center and responsible for perimeter security of the International Zone.  Their assigned role does not fit with the duties of the IA.  Personal security of governmental facilities is more in line with the duties of the CTS.


37th IA Light Mechanized Brigade elements: 

ISOF has had personnel trained in maintaining BTR80s for over a year now but, ISOF does not have BTR80s.  The only ISF BTR80s are in the IA’s 1-37, 2-37, and 3-37 Battalions plus the 4-1 FP Mechanized Battalion [BTR94 variant].  The 37th has already started to receive tanks to replace their BTRs but, in separate battalions.  This could mean some or all of the BTR80 and EE9 personnel in 37th Brigade are transferring to CTS/ISOF with their armor.  The IA has been reportedly postponing transferring 1,800 IA personnel to ISOF for over a year now.  1,800 personnel fit for the transfer of those 4 Lt Mechanized/Lt Armored Recon Battalions from the 37th to ISOF.


Ministry of Interior elements


Like the MoD, there are elements of the MoI that are more in line with the CTS roles/missions.  There are 3-4 division-equivalents of ERF [MoI SOF] and 1 security division-equivalent of FP that are likely candidates for transfer to the CTS.


Emergency Response Force: 

The ERF is officially part of MoI but, like the IA’s 14 Protection Battalions, 2 Presidential Brigades, and the 56th Brigade, the ERF is under the direct command of the National Operation Center.  The ERF’s role is the same as ISOF’s except they operate as the local response forces.  At least 6 brigades of the ERF are formed and this force is continuing to expand by absorbing, retraining, and reorganizing the better 50 percent of the local SWAT trained Emergency Response Unit Battalions.  Eventual ERF strength is expected to be 12-15 brigades.


Federal Police Security Brigades:

There are 3 security force brigades under the FP that are more in keeping with the CTS duties.  The Ruins and Antiquities Security Force is responsible for protecting artifacts that can be stole to provide funding for terrorism.  The Central Bank Security Force guards the bank – again a source/target for funding terrorism.  The Embassy Security Force guards foreign embassies in the International Zone – a favorite target for terrorism.


4-1 FP Mechanized Battalion:

ISOF has had personnel trained in maintaining BTR80s but, ISOF does not have BTR80s.  The only ISF BTR80s are in the IA’s 1-37, 2-37, and 3-37 Battalions plus the 4-1 FP Mechanized Battalion [BTR94 variant].  This could mean some or all of the BTR94s are transferring to CTS/ISOF.


Wartime and Peacetime roles/organization of the CTS


The peacetime role of the CTS is high end counter-terrorism - internal security.  They are also the de facto praetorian force to prevent military coups.  To perform these roles, they require legislation authorizing them and transfers of MoD/MoI formations currently filling these roles.


CTS is unlikely to organize most of its commando forces into divisions since, in wartime mobilization, they provide 2 commando brigades of ISOF/ERF to each of the frontal corps.  The Baghdad based Brigades may be organized into a Special Operations Division composed of 56th Mechanized Brigade, 1st ISOF Brigade, and 2 ERF Brigades as part of the central reserve.  The security/protection forces are unlikely to change roles in wartime – only the ISOF, ERF, and 56th Mechanized Brigades would have a wartime front-line combat role.


If all of the above elements are incorporated into the CTS then the force would probably become an 8 division-equivalent sized service composed of [probable is 65 and possible is 35 percent]:

  • 5 ISOF Commando Brigades [already happening – 1 division-equivalent].
  • 12-15 ERF Commando Brigades [probable – 3-4 division-equivalents].
  • 1 Mechanized Brigade – 56th [probable].
  • 2 Personal Security Divisions or division-equivalents - Presidential and Council [possible].
  • 1 Facilities Security Division – Bank, Embassy, and Antiquities [possible]


If the commando elements are organized into regional divisions, then the 5 ISOF Brigades are likely to be the regional/divisional quick reactions force while the 12-15 ERF Brigades operate as local QRFs.


The CTS is not a legal service yet but, if and when it is authorized, it will grow rapidly to a 5-8 division-equivalent force – the elite third ground force to balance the MoD’s and MoI’s combat forces.



Brigade OOB as of 30 November 2010


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during November 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 November 2010.   The Table of Organization and Equipment [Appendix B] has been reorganized for readability.   The articles “Iraqi Armor Update November 2010” and “ISF Total Force Mobilization Update November 2010” were addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • Most M113s going to 9th Division; No Bradleys planned for IA at this time; M1A1 training ammunition to be ordered; Iraqi Air Force may be getting used L159 Jet Trainers vice new aircraft; MoD is considering used French and US Fighters; Last 4 T-6A trainers delivered; Naval C4ISR system to be bought.
  • Training of Peshmerga forces to integrate them into the ISF continues to progress.
  • 2 Protection Battalions to protect Allawi; Surge of 5,000 new IA recruits; M1A1 training continues; Howitzers in 17th Division?; Strategic Bridging Company in training.
  • 70th Squadron moves and may be reconfiguring; 12 Squadron may be moving; AAC College being established at Habbeniyah; Mi-17 weapons training.
  • 6th ERF Brigade identified in Mosul.


Arms Purchases and Deliveries


During a Blogger-roundtable on 4 November, Brigadier General Buchanan said that the Iraqi Army now had 43 of the 140 ordered M1A1 tanks.  The 24 M109A5 Self-Propelled Howitzers being provided are to go to a 9th Division Field Artillery Regiment. He could not provide a break-down on the 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles but, he did say that some are already in-country, with the rest delivering over the next year. The majority of the M113 variants are going to 9th Division [showpiece].  This indicates a greater concentration of M113s in the 9th Division than previously estimated.  [Hence the armor update.]


In response to a follow-up request for information Captain Leslie Waddle, Press Desk Officer, Media Operations Center US Embassy-Baghdad stated:   “In reference to your question below, this is the breakdown of what variants they are. We can't provide the numbers, we recommend you contact Government of Iraq for their breakdown.  The following is a list of the different variants of M113s being supplied to the GoI:  M113A2--Armored Personnel Carriers, M113A2--Ambulance, M548A1--Cargo Carrier, M1064--Mortar Carrier, M577A2--Command Post Carrier, M577A2--Emergency Medical Treatment Vehicle.”


As usual, GoI/IMoD is not answering inquiries but, previously reported FMS notices indicate at least 440 of the 1,026 are M113A2 APCs.  The probable range of M1064 120mm Mortar Carriers in this mix is 250-300 with the remaining 4 variants splitting the remaining 250-300.


Despite inaccurate press reporting to the contrary, USF-I Press Desk says that Bradley Fighting Vehicles are not being provided or sold to the ISF at this time.  It is probable that the erroneous press reporting was confusion over the actual M113 APC deal.


A 30 November FMS Notice of a possible sale of M1A1 ammunition was also hyped without the press reporting noting that over 90 percent of the ammunition is practice rounds.  The notice was for:14,010 TP-T M831A1 120mm Cartridges, 16,110 TPCSDS-T M865 120mm Cartridges, and 3,510 HEAT-MP-T M830A1 120mm Cartridges.


To put this into perspective, Iraq is taking delivery of a total of only 140 M1A1 tanks over the next year.  Each of those tanks carries 40 120mm main-gun rounds.  To fill those tanks with war-shots would take 5,600 rounds vice the 3,510 HEAT rounds in the order.  The above order is for 215 training rounds and 25 HEAT rounds per tank.  Considering that Iraq has an option for another 140 M1A1s to be delivered within 2 years, this is just initial training ammo.


There is reporting that the Czech Republic might sell up to 25 used Aero L-159 to Iraq.  Iraq has been holding a competition for 24 jet trainers between Korea’s T-50, the UK’s Hawk, and Italy’s Maki 346.  It is probable that the price of new aircraft proved prohibitive and that Iraq is now looking at buying cheaper used jet trainer aircraft.


The Ministry of Defense “is studying the possibility of buying used French and U.S. planes, until being able to get new ones. The Minister, also, denied that Iraq has (F16) aircrafts, but is in the process of contracting to buy them; adding that, at present, Iraq has no aircrafts capable to repulse any aerial aggression, and that the U.S. Air Force is, now, protecting the Iraqi air-space. He, then, pointed that the coming government and parliament will have to decide whether accepting the building of U.S. Air Bases in Iraq or finding an alternative."  Of note, there has been a further delay of the initial F16 purchase caused by the lack of a budget for 2011 but, that is in the process of being resolved.


The last 4 of 15 ordered T-6A trainers departed Wichita Beech for Iraq on 4 November, according to Marco Dijkshoorn of the Dutch Aviation Society. 


A 30 November FMS notice of a possible sale to Iraq of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system for monitoring Iraq’s coastline has also been released.  This system is to “ensure that the Iraqi Naval Force (INF) is better able to efficiently use its vessels and manpower to police Iraqi territorial waters and protect its strategic maritime assets."   




"Four-hundred-nine Regional Guard Brigade Soldiers successfully completed Basic Combat Training in Beneslawa Nov. 3.  These RGB Soldiers, all from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Regional Guard Brigade, represent the second class of RGB Soldiers to complete this BCT course.  Conducted at the Beneslawa Zeravani Training Center, the course was modeled on the Iraqi Army's training program and was conducted by RGB officers and noncommissioned officers. These soldiers were trained in the latest basic infantry skills to prepare them for future service with the Iraqi Army."  2nd RGB is a component previously identified as a probable part of the planned IA 16th Mountain Division.


"Thirty-seven Regional Guard Brigade Soldiers successfully completed the Iraqi Army Intelligence School at Camp Taji Nov. 15.   The 37 RGB Soldiers accompanied 268 additional Iraqi Army Soldiers in graduation ceremonies capping off the first-ever class to jointly integrate RGB Soldiers jointly into intelligence training in the school’s specialty courses.  “The purpose of the joint Regional Guard Brigade and Iraqi Army Intelligence training is to ensure that Regional Guard Brigade intelligence capabilities are interoperable with Iraqi Army Division Intelligence capabilities,” said Peter Fischer, director, Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Intelligence, who oversees the school’s training under the United States Forces-Iraq’s joint partnership with the Iraqi Military.”  This is part of establishing a divisional intelligence component and tying it into the IA Intelligence network.


“Thirty-One Regional Guard Brigade soldiers from the Sulaymaniyah, Arbil and Dahuk provinces completed the Basic Combat Instructor Course at the Zeravani Training Center in Beneslawa, Oct. 28.  As qualified instructors, these soldiers will report to the new Bapshtian Training Center to begin training solders in a Basic Combat Training Course that is scheduled to begin Nov. 20.”  This new training center for KRG forces is the second divisional training center being established to train Kurdish forces on IA lines indicating both 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions are being assembled.


The US 2-7 Cavalry Battalion, 4th “Advise and Assist” Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division is reported training the 9/3 IA Brigade and 15th Regional Guards Brigade in Wanah.  This is the first mention of 15th RGB.  Six Kurdish Brigades have been identified receiving IA style training.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd RGBs in the planned 16th Mountain Division area and the 12th, 15th, and 43rd RGBs in the planned 15th Mountain Division area.


Iraqi Army


A pair of protection battalions may be employed protecting Allawi.  "Allawi, who was the target of more than 13 assassination attempts, will have protection made up of two regiments from the Iraqi forces..."  There are 14 Independent Protection Battalions and 6 more Protection Battalions in the 2 Presidential Brigades.


The IA continues to expand.  "As part of a country-wide surge of 5,000 new Iraqi Army recruits, Iraqi Army Engineer School cadre are leading a 60-day Basic Combat Training course that began Oct. 6 at Camp Taji." If the IA Engineer School is being used to train new recruits, then the training system is filled to current capacity and this indicates an expansion of the IA.


Training on M1A1 tanks continues.  "Forty-two Soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 9th Armored Division graduated from the M1A1 Familiarization Course at the Besmaya Combat Training Center Nov. 2  This latest class, which was conducted with the assistance of Iraqi Armor School cadre, brings the total number of Iraqi Army Soldiers who have completed this course to 504."


Salvaged D30 howitzers reported in Iraqi TV news employed in 29 November live-fire exercise of 17th Division in south Baghdad.  The only D30s known in the IA are in 9th Division.  This indicates either a transfer of the artillery to 17th Division or a 9th Division augment for the exercise.  There is some question as to the functionality of the D30s.


The new Strategic Bridging Company has been reported in training.  This is a first report of the unit which is to be equipped with excess US equipment.


On 30 November 2010, Major Adrian Henegan, formerly with MNSTC-I working the IA mortar and M1A1 tank programs, provided comments concerning the developments of those programs during his tour in 2008-2009.  Appendix F [Oct13 and Nov24], Appendix G [Feb19, Feb20, Mar01, Mar28, Mar31, Apr02, Apr03, Apr9, Apr25, Apr28, and Jun19], and Appendix H [Nov30] have been updated with these corrections, clarifications, and addendums.

Iraqi Aviation


The Iraqi Air Force 70th Reconnaissance Squadron finally relocated to Tallil in November.  "The new unit proudly displayed its new aircraft, a group of CH 2000 reconnaissance planes, an AC-208 and an Iraqi C-130 cargo plane, similar to the U.S. version.”  The C130 is probably just visiting but, the addition of an AC-208 indicates an upgrade to the squadron.


The Iraqi Army Air Corps 12th Training Squadron is probably moving to Habbeniyah.  Habbeniyah is becoming the AAC training Base according to the Commander of the AAC on Al Hurrah 14 November.  The Iraqi Army Air Corps College is being established at Habbeniyah.  Taji is becoming crowded and this move helps alleviate this problem.


Weapons’ training continues for Iraqi helicopter pilots.  "Three Iraq Army Aviation Directorate instructor pilots completed the flying portion of Mi-17 weapons re-qualification training Oct. 27.  Assisted by representatives of United States Forces-Iraq’s Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force, the instructor pilots were required to plan the mission and then execute firing operations for 80mm rockets at targets."


On 11 November, 7th Division troops were training on embarking and debarking from Iraqi Hueys and US Blackhawk helicopters.  While the division has had elements training on air assault befor, this is the first reported employment of Iraqi UH-1 Hueys in this role.  The only Hueys in the Iraqi AAC are in 2nd Squadron, last reported based at Taji.


Ministry of Interior


A US Division – North press release on 17 November mentioned the 6th Emergency Response Brigade operating in Mosul.  This indicates that the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Force has expanded to 6, possibly 7 brigades.  Only the 1st, 3rd, and now the 6th ERBs have been located.  Baghdad, Baqubah, Basrah, and the Kurdish Region have all shown signs of ERF training/formation and are the probable locations for the un-located brigades.


The ERF is expanding by taking provincial police SWAT personnel through a training program and then reorganizing/re-equipping the 50 percent that pass into centrally controlled ERF battalions/brigades.  Those that do not pass the selection course revert to the province police and will eventually be absorbed by the expanding Federal Police.  The ERF is expected to grow to 12-15 brigades by 2015.

This is one of the few lawyers that I agree with.  Take the time to watch.  He starts at 4:45. 


The irony not mentioned is that most of those elite schools were founded and were originally funded by the US Federal Government to provide officers for the military…


Link to large sized map.


There are all sorts of people speculating as to what the Iraqi Security Force should or should not do and what the ISF defense concept should be.  The concepts range from conventional forward defense to people who are confusing delaying tactics for defense.  Most are unaffordable.  Many are unsuitable due to Iraq’s limited strategic depth.  Basrah is in artillery range with a 4 mile advance into Iraq.  Baghdad is less than 3 hours drive for a tank division coming from the Iranian border unopposed.  Iranian tanks would not even need to refuel on the way if unopposed.


Only in the Anbar, Najaf, and Muthanna border areas opposite Jordan and Saudi does Iraq have the strategic depth necessary for a mobile defense concept.  Everywhere else, forward defense is the only real option.  That major detail has not stopped some amateur proposals from talking using a mobile defense concept supported by aircraft.  However, such a defense requires a minimum of 100 kilometers depth of maneuvering room, minimized lines of communication in that zone, and an unaffordable large air force.


This is why Saudi Arabia is not developed for 100-150km depth along most of its borders.  That is the military combat zone with its limited roads to channelize an enemy’s advance.  Saudi’s concept of operations is to delay an invader in that zone with air strikes and small well armed blocking forces until an ally [US] arrives in strength to intervene.  The exception to this rule is the Kuwait border which was developed for the oil – which is why invading Kuwait is a tripwire for US intervention into Saudi.  Iraq does not have this defensive depth.


Saudi did not invent this concept of operations and it has several major flaws.  The biggest flaw is it is not a stand-alone defense – it is a delaying tactic - it requires intervention by an outside force.   This delaying tactic did not work so well on the eastern front for the Wehrmacht in 1943-45 when the miracle split in the allies never happened.  The German’s employed this same concept and they had considerably more room to work with on the eastern front.  All it did was delay the fall while they prayed for a miracle that never happened.  Iraq does not have any mutual defense treaties to guarantee the miracle intervention.


If Iraq were to employ such an operational concept on any border except the Saudi/Jordanian border – E.G. Iran: It would hand every major city in Iraq to Iran in less than 2 weeks of combat operations.  Too many strategic cities and oil facilities are just too close to the border.  Iraq also is too built up in those regions with a road network that facilitates multiple axis of attack.  Iraq does not have the strategic depth necessary to employ that set of mobile defensive tactics.  It could be argued that Iraq needs to be pre-emptive and attack Iran in such a situation – so as to gain the strategic depth needed but, that did not work out so well for Saddam.


Fortunately for Iraq, the Iraq Security Forces understand that they are going to have a hard time buying enough fighter aircraft and SAMs for their air defense.  The decision-makers understand that light COIN aircraft are not cost effective if the cost is the loss of the country – they need the advanced fighters first and cannot afford wasting the budget on large numbers of single role aircraft.  The Iraqi Air Force in 2020 will be lucky to have enough capable combat aircraft to provide air defense given their budget.  The Iraqi Air Force will not be wasting money on large numbers of aircraft that can be easily shot down by any fighter built since WWII – the money will be going to air defense.  The Iraqi Defense concept is forward defense and the ground forces are not expecting much air support. 


As depicted on the map, the forward defense concept planned by the Iraqi Security Forces utilizes the Total Mobilization Concept.  The DBE provides the forward screen with a mix of Iraqi Army, Iraqi Federal Police, and Kurdish Regional Guards providing the primary infantry line.  The Iraqi Army plans to add significant armor to its force so that it’s mechanized and armor divisions can operate as corps/army reserve to react to any enemy breakthrough.  Supporting those heavy divisions will be the limited Army Aviation working with the Iraqi Special Operations Force brigades and the MoI’s Emergency Response Force Brigades as part of the quick reaction forces.    However, all of these forces are not ready for external defense.  They would be only a speed-bump to the Iranian forces at this point.  To put it into perspective, the 3-phase Iraqi Ministry of Defense plan is: 


·         Tactical Independence (2006-2010) – Internal security which is effectively done. 


·         Operational Independence (2011-2015) – unlikely to meet the schedule.  IA needs to be out of internal security operations by then and it is unlikely that the FP will be ready to take over in time.  Also, the FP needs to train and equip for its secondary role as infantry in external defense.


·         Strategic Independence (2016-2020) – unlikely to meet the schedule.  This requires a functional and credible air defense, at least 6 heavy IA divisions, and the FP trained/equipped for its secondary role of external security. 


Each of the services are at differing points in the development time-line, almost none of them are really on schedule. 


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army is in early Phase 2 with the armor and artillery programs behind schedule.  Originally, the artillery program was to start in 2007 but, the addition of 4 divisions for internal security diverted resources from upgrading the existing divisions.  The Iraqi Army is just starting to re-equip and train the 9th Armored Division for that role, and this is the only division in the Iraqi army with any howitzers.


The IA has only 14 of 20 planned IA Divisions; 4 more appear to be forming – 16th, 18th, President, and Council.  Only 1 armored division exists and that is in M1A1/M113/BTR4 conversion training.


The 20 IA divisions are planned to be 4 Armored, 6 Mechanized Infantry, 6 [truck-mounted] Motorized Infantry, 2 Mountain, and 2 Security Divisions.  All except 1 division is missing their howitzers and some of their other necessary support components.  The planned armor and mechanized upgrades will not be completed by 2020.  Too much of the budget is needed for air defense to upgrade more than 6-8 divisions to mech/armor.


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force is in late-Phase 1 and will not be starting Phase 2 until it starts to field an air defense with teeth.


The separation of the helicopter assets to the Army Air Corps should facilitate re-focusing the Air Force on its primary air defense mission but, the price and delivery times make it unlikely that a credible air defense can be fielded by 2020.  The first fighters are not expected to start to deliver until 2014 at earliest.  Budget issues may delay that further.  A minimum of 5 fighter squadrons are necessary for Iraqi air defense – preferably 8-10.  Given Delivery and training time, the minimum needed 5 squadrons could be operational by 2020 – barring any further delays.  This also requires further development of the support structure.


To date, no SAM-based air defense has been ordered.  The earliest SAMs could be added is 2013-2014 and sufficient numbers/training/support would push their effective operational date to 2017-2020.


Iraqi Navy and Marines


The Iraqi Navy and Marines are in Phase 2 but, that in more a factor of their limited objectives.  The Marines still need to expand to a Division-sized force to cover the expanding Al Faw ports and the Navy needs missile boats and coastal defense missiles.  The existing force is gun armed.


Iraqi Special Operations Force/Emergency Response Force


ISOF is in Phase 2 but, the expansion to 5 brigades is slow and facing delays.  The ERF is in Phase 1 and facing similar problems to ISOF.  Screening, training and expanding by taking in the best 50 percent of the province SWAT forces is not a fast program.


The Iraqi Special Operations Force and the Emergency Response Force are a Division-equivalent in size but, mostly dispersed in battalion-sized detachments.  Both forces are expanding slowly to a probably planned 5 ISOF and 14-15 ERF Brigades.  This will be a slow expansion, probably not complete until 2018-2020.  In wartime these forces would be assigned to corps or army headquarters as airmobile quick reaction forces and reconnaissance forces.


Federal Police


The Federal Police is in early to mid-Phase 1.  The FP is in the process of forming its 5th and 6th Divisions out of the Mid-Euphrates emergency police and part of the 30,000 Kurdish Zerevani that are transferring to the Iraqi MoI.  This is less than half of the 14-16 planned Federal Police Divisions being built by retraining/re-equipping the existing provincial emergency police.  Until the FP finishes this “Nationalization” program, they will not be training or equipping for their secondary external security role [Phase 2].


4 of 14-16 planned FP Divisions exist at this time with 2 more forming.  These ~15 Divisions are planned to be 14-15 [truck] Motorized Infantry and 1 Security Division.  These new Divisions are being formed by transferring, retraining, and re-equipping existing Province Paramilitary forces.  This will probably not be done until after 2015, after which training on their secondary external defense role will commence.


Department of Border Enforcement


The DBE is also in Phase 1.  They are short 5 brigades in strength and the DBE has few mobile units – they are based on fixed border fortifications.  This makes its function as a forward screen a very short-lived one in event of an attack.  They are also missing field artillery and mortars.  The 5 existing under strength DBE Divisions are mostly static forces tied to their border “forts”.   This is the only force planned to be used in external defense with a “Maginot Line” mentality.


Ministry of Interior Aviation


Ministry of Interior Aviation is in Phase 0.  They are ordering their first aircraft.


Oil Police Directorate


OPD is in early Phase 1.  OPD is only at 1/3rd strength and slow training.  However, the Italian Carabinieri is starting a training program for the Oil Police similar to the program for the Federal Police – this could make those 4 forming security divisions much more useful in the future.  At this point the OPD is 4 badly under strength Oil Police Divisions.  For now, these are static forces; however, the Carabinieri training could convert them into a more capable mobile force.  Due to the importance of guarding the oil infrastructure – these forces are unlikely to be used in external security.  They will be rear-area security releasing the IA from securing the all-important oil infrastructure.


Facilities Protection Service


The Facilities Protection Force is at Phase 0.5 – only 10 percent has transitioned to the IP pay scale and they probably will never be more than “rent-a-cops” at best.  The 3 forming Facilities Police Divisions are low capability static security and unlikely to be used in external security.


Kurdish Regional Guards


The Kurdish Regional Guards are Phase 2 but, only recently started Iraqi Army training.  The delay in merging the Peshmerga forces from 2 de facto political militias into 1 security force has hurt training.  In addition to the 2 IA, 2 FP, and 1 DBE Division being manned or to be manned by the Peshmerga, there are 21 Regional Guards Brigades are being organized on standard IA structure.  The 21 forming Regional Guards Brigades are being formed by combining PUK and KDP smaller sized “brigades” and forming more conventionally standard sized brigades.  KRG forces are restricted to Kurdish areas unless the Kurdish Regional Government agrees to their deployment.  Total forces in the Kurdish Region are 2 corps equivalents – 1 army.


The ISF is developing but, budget issues and politics has delayed many key components.  It is unlikely to meet the planned schedules for 2015 and 2020.  Air Defense is still the major issue and the price-tag associated with air defense will impact any plans for other purchases.  Without the essential air defense, everything else is just targets…

IA Divisions

Iraqi Armor indications of upgrade


[Important item first:  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month in 1918 – Armistice.  To my fellow vets:  Have a happy Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day.]


Details concerning armor developments in the Iraqi Army are slowly being released.  However, much remains speculative.  As with all speculation pieces, I will be happy if 60 percent proves correct.  My comments and analysis in this lead section are in italics.


The first 11 BTR4 line, command, and staff variants are arriving this month.  Apparently the engine delivery problems with sub-contractor have delayed/reduced the initial delivery from 24 in October to 11 in November.  All 420 of these vehicles are to be delivered over the next 3.5 years.  Only elements of 1 battalion have been identified training in using BTR4s.


This could mean the entire 3-35/9 Battalion is upgrading with BTR4s. It could also mean that only part of the battalion is upgrading [E.G. 3-35/9 Battalion’s Scout/Commando Platoon].  The battalion personnel in training could also be transferred to another division after training.


During a DoD Blogger’s Roundtable, Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan, the Director of Strategic Effects USF-I provided some details on US armor being sold or provided to the IA.   The majority of the 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles delivering to Iraq over the next year are going to the 9th Armored Division.  All 24 of the M109 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzers are going to the 9th Armored Division’s Field Artillery Regiment.  The IA has now taken delivery of 43 of the initial order of 140 M1A1 tanks.  The tanks are also going to the 9th Armored Division.


The IA already has 283 M113A2 APCs and 44 Talha APCs [Pakistani M113 clone], with most already assigned to 9 Armored Division.  A Foreign Material Sales notice identified 440 M113A2s as being refurbished as part of the 1,026 M113 FOVs being provided to Iraq.  These numbers [767], combined with most of the M113s being assigned to 9th Armored Division, indicate that only 7-8 heavy brigades are being upgraded with M113A2s and that 4 of those heavy brigades are in the 9th Armored Division.


It also points to an additional 350 [minimum] of tank orders to fill out the mix.  Only 280 M1A1s have been ordered/optioned for so far.


This also indicates that the BTR4s, if they remain in 9th Armor Division’s mix, are being used for the battalion scout/commando platoons, brigade scout/commando companies, and the division’s commando battalion.  This would explain the abundance of command vehicles in the BTR4 purchase.  However, this does not exclude the alternate possibilities.


In response to a follow-up request for information Captain Leslie Waddle, Press Desk Officer, Media Operations Center US Embassy-Baghdad provided the following amplification to BG Buchanan’s response:


“In reference to your question below, this is the breakdown of what variants they are. We can't provide the numbers, we recommend you contact Government of Iraq for their breakdown.  The following is a list of the different variants of M113s being supplied to the GoI: 

M113A2--Armored Personnel Carriers,


M548A1--Cargo Carrier,

M1064--Mortar Carrier,

M577A2--Command Post Carrier,

M577A2--Emergency Medical Treatment Vehicle.” 


Apparently, Iraqi OPSEC applies to numbers; however, US law will require public Congressional notification of those numbers eventually.  Iraqi Ministry of Defense is operating under a news blackout and last responded to my inquires almost 3 years ago.


The APCs have been identified by DSCA as 440.  The M1064 120mm mortar carriers are probably 288 in number at 8 heavy brigades with 3 battalions each [6 per battalion plus 18 per brigade].  The remaining 4 variants probably total 298 vehicles divided into roughly equal numbers.


The Command Post Carriers combined with the 30 BTR4Ksh Staff vehicles and 80 BTR4K Command vehicles indicate either the BTR4s are going to other divisions or they are being distributed among the heavy battalions, brigades, and divisions as the scout/commando elements.


Likewise, the absence of M901 Improved TOW Vehicles supports the use of the BTR4s as filling the scout/commando and anti-tank roles in any M113 equipped battalions that do not include tanks.


The M1A1 equipped tank regiments are to have 35 tanks and require a total of 80 vehicle bays.  This indicates a combined arms battalion mix of vehicles:  2 tanks companies of 17 tanks each, 2 mechanized companies, 1 mortar battery of 6 mortar carriers, scout platoon, and supporting Headquarters Support Company.


[The remainder of this article is all my analysis and comments.  Italics discontinued.]


Suggested Heavy Brigade Structure


One of the reoccurring indications is that the BTR4s are to be used for the scout/commando and anti-tank elements of 8 planned heavy brigades while the M113s fill the armored Personnel role.  This could indicate an IA Armor Brigade structure of:


Brigade Special Troops Battalion with:

  • Scout/Commando Company with 12 BTR4s [3 BTR4K Command/9 BTR4 line vehicles].
  • Engineer Company.
  • EOD Company with ILAV Badger Engineer Combat Vehicles.
  • MP Company with HMMWVs.
2 Tank Regiments [Combined-Arms Battalions], each with:
  • 2 Tank Companies with 35 M1A1s.
  • 2 Mechanized Companies with 28-29 M113A2s.
  • Mortar Battery with 6 M1064s.
  • Scout Platoon with 4 BTR4s [1 BTR4K Command/3 BTR4 line vehicles].
Mechanized Battalion with:
  • 3 Mechanized Companies with 33-36 M113A2s.
  • Anti-Tank Company with 11 BTR4s [2 BTR4K Command/9 BTR4 line vehicles].
  • Mortar Battery with 6 M1064s.
  • Scout Platoon with 4 BTR4s [1 BTR4K Command/3 BTR4 line vehicles].
Brigade Field Artillery Battalion with:
  • 3 Mortar Batteries with 18 M1064 120mm Mortar Carriers.
  • Howitzer Battery with 6 howitzers.
  • Security Company with HMMWVs.
  • [Suspect an Air Defense Battery planned.]
Brigade Support Battalion with: 
  • Maintenance Company with M88 and BREM-4K repair and recovery vehicles.
  • Medical Company with M113A2 and BSEM-4K ambulances plus M577A2 EMTVs.
  • Security Company with HMMWVs.
  • Transport Company with M548A1 Cargo Carriers and M1070 HETs.


The remaining unaccounted for vehicles would be part of the Battalion Headquarters/Support Companies, Brigade Support Battalions, Brigade Special Troop Battalions, Division Special Troop Battalions, Division support troops, and maintenance/training float.


A possible Mechanized Brigade structure would be identical except they would have 1 Tank Regiment and 2 Mechanized Battalions.  So far, there are no formations organized or identified as organizing in this possible Mechanized Brigade structure.


Missing Tanks


The number of ordered/optioned M1A1s is only 8 Tank Regiments worth so far [140/140].  The existing T55s and T72s are only enough to fill the tank component of 6 Tank Regiments.  Only using the M113A2s in this structure [Without including the 60 MTLB APCs and the 434 BMP1 MICVs.], the IA is 2 Tank Regiments [70] short of tanks in current orders/options.


Based on this structure and including the MTLBs and the BMP1s, the IA is a minimum of 350 tanks short in its existing orders and options to go with its existing and ordered mechanized infantry elements.  While some of that will be additional US orders of M1A1s, the Ukraine is a likely source for those missing tanks to fill out the IA Armor structure.  [The only tanks I know of ordered/optioned at this time are the 280 total M1A1s and those are factored in - This means a minimum of 350 additional tanks that need to be ordered.  More are likely.]


Armor Distribution


In addition to the ongoing US upgrade of all 4 of 9th Armored Division’s brigades [34/9 thru 37/9], the following units have been identified with armor [underline indicates US armor].  There are 7 total IA brigades identified as upgrading with US armor at this time, 4 brigades are in 9th Armored Division. 


1st Division in eastern Anbar:

  • 3/1 Brigade is equipped with 3 battalions worth of refurbished mostly western wheeled APCs [Panhard/Shorland/Mohafiz]
3rd Division in western Ninawa:
  • 10/3 Brigade has 1 battalion of M113s.
  • 12/3 Brigade is receiving refurbished/redistributed T55s from 9th Armor Division.
5th Division in Diyala:
  • 20/5 Brigade has 1 battalion of M113s and 1 battalion (-) of salvaged wheeled APCs.
6th Division in northwest Baghdad:
  • 22/6 Brigade has received a battalion of BMP1s from 9th Armor Division.
  • 56/6 Brigade has received training for 2 battalions of M113 crews.
7th Division in western Anbar:
  • 29/7 Brigade has 2 battalions of BMP1s.
8th Division in the Mid-Euphraties:
  • 33/8 Brigade receiving training in maintaining BMP1s.
11th Division in eastern Baghdad
  • 42/11 Brigade has 1 battalion of MTLBs.
  • 44/11 Brigade has 1 battalion of BMP1s.


Additional IA divisions that have been regularly augmented by 9th Armored Division and are potential candidates for armor brigade upgrades include:

  • 14th Division in Basrah has had a battalion augment from 9th Armored Division [T55/BMPs] for over 2 years. Basrah is strategic and will have armor.  The question is whether the 14th Division upgrades or another division rotates in after upgrading.  There are indications of a planned IA division rotation.
  • 17th Division in south Baghdad has had 35/9 Brigade augmenting [T72/BMPs] for almost 2 years.

The publically reported support structure for maintaining armor is limited to Baghdad, Anbar and, Maysan provinces to date.  The majority of the armor upgrades are in the Baghdad area.  The facilities at Memona in Maysan indicate either the transfer of a mechanized force there or the establishing of a new division with armor based there.  Ramadi [Anbar] is already the headquarters of the 7th Division which is the parent division of the 2 BMP1 battalions in 29/7 Brigade.  There are no reports of mechanized maintenance support in Ninawa but, 6th Division in Baghdad is reportedly going to Ninawa, which could mean they are to replace 3rd Division while the 3rd is upgraded.


Despite the Iraqi Government driven increased OPSEC, details of the increasing IA armor continue to become public.  The orders of equipment point towards significant additional tank orders to go with the armored personnel carriers arriving over the next year.


[Note to my readers:  Yes, I am concentrating on IA armor as late.  The armor upgrades are 1 of the 3 largest purchasing programs in the ISF and 1 of the least transparent.  Only the Peshmerga has tighter OPSEC.  The Iraqi Air Force, Army Air Corps, Federal Police, etc., are much clearer in their development and plans.]


Brigade OOB as of 31 October 2010


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during October 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 October 2010.   The “Possible distribution of Iraqi Armor” was addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • Peshmerga training in air assault; 6 Federal Police Division announced as part of MoA between Iraqi and Kurdish MoIs.
  • Iraqi Army armor developments and redistribution; “Presidential Guard Force”.
  • Training Squadron No. 3; 2 Squadrons move in southern Iraq; New Rocket for Army Air Corps.
  • Tal Afar SWAT now a Brigade; 2nd Emergency Police Brigade reported in Salahadin; NATO Training Mission-Iraq shifting to training Oil Police.




Photos of Peshmerga receiving air assault training in Kirkuk were published by USF-I.  The uniforms are a mix of Regional Guards Brigade and Federal Police, indicating Kurdish elements of both forces are receiving this training.  Elements of the Peshmerga are being trained and added to Iraqi Army and Federal Police.


“The Iraq Ministry of Interior and the Kurdish Regional Government Ministry of Interior signed a memorandum of agreement pledging greater cooperation among the two ministries in Arbil Oct. 20.  Facilitated by United States Forces-Iraq, the signing of the document by Jawad Al Bolani, Iraq's minister of Interior, and Karim Sinjari, Kurdish minister of Interior, reflects an important step toward greater cooperation and integration of forces. Additionally, the agreement calls for the integration of the Zeravani and Bargiri-Fryakawtin forces to form the 6th Federal Police Division.  The two ministries' cooperative efforts come in the form of strengthened internal security, as the 6th Federal Police Division will be available for nation-wide deployment to conduct missions. Furthermore, the 6th Division will be formed upon Federal Police common standards in which all new recruits will be required to meet specific requirements for entry, including education, physical qualifications and background checks.”


Iraqi Army


On 14 October, a M1A1 tank rollout ceremony was held at the Iraqi Defense Ministry headquarters.  Many U.S. and Iraqi military leaders attended the event in which the Iraqi Army received 35 of 140 M1A1 tanks that Iraq is purchasing from the US.  This marked the formal delivery of the first 3 sets of tanks needed to form the first Iraqi Tank Regiment.         Facilities for Tank Regiment training at Besmaya are being built.  Each Tank Regiment is to have 35 tanks and requires 80 vehicle bays: 

“The M1A1 fielding and storage site boasts 80 fully-enclosed bays, two wash racks, maintenance bays, training buildings, headquarters buildings, warehouses, guard towers, and a motor pool workshop.  “This will provide enough tanks to establish four M1A1 tank battalions of 35 tanks each,” said John Hutchings, ITAM-Army’s M1A1 project officer.  “The facilities will, in the long term, become a part of the Combat Training Center at Besmaya,” Hutchings said. “The facilities will be handed over to the BCTC for use by battalion-size units conducting training on the Besmaya Range.” 


80 vehicle bays is a fit for the US Combined Arms Battalion [CAB] structure with 17 tanks per company vice the US standard of 14.  This probably means that Iraqi CABs [aka Tank Regiments] will have the following:

·         35 tanks [2 companies of 17 each with 1 at battalion]

·         31 APCs [2 companies of 14 each with 3 at battalion]

·         6 mortar carriers [1 battery]

·         2 command vehicles

·         2 armored ambulances

·         2-4 repair/recovery vehicles


The July SIGIR report confirmed that mortar carriers are part of the remaining 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles being provided to Iraq.  440 of those have been identified as M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers.  So far, there has been no breakdown on the remaining 586 M113 FOVs.  The majority are probably mortar carriers with the rest probably a mix of command, repair/recovery, and cargo vehicles.


Only 11 BTR4s are delivering in November.  This is the 1st delivery and apparently, the reported engine delivery problems with the sub-contractor delayed/reduced the initial delivery from 24 in October to 11 in November.  The BTR4s are expected to fit the cavalry role in a modified US heavy brigade combat team structure. 


The redistribution of former 9th Division Russian armor is progressing.  Photos of a refurbished T55 with 12/3 Brigade markings and a photo of BMP1s in Ghazaliyah in "2nd Battalion" were taken by an Iraqi soldier this year.  The 2-22/6 Battalion is the 2nd Battalion based in Ghazaliyah.  These photos indicate that this is not 9th Division armor anymore.  This transfer of armor indicates that 6th Division and 3rd Division are next in priority for upgrade.


As of 27 Sep, at least some of the BTR80s are still in 9th Division at Taji.  The BTR80s are planned to transfer to the Iraqi Special Operations Forces.


The Iraqi press is now referring to a "Presidential Guard force".   This possibly indicates the Presidential Brigades [and independent security battalions?] are being organized into divisional structure(s).


Iraqi Air Force and Army Air Corps


Apparently the training squadrons are being numbered sequentially without regard to operational squadrons’ numbering.  The "Iraqi Training Squadron No. 3" in Tikrit is using the new T-6As delivered this summer.  The operational 3rd Squadron is in Kirkuk and is a C208 ISR-equipped reconnaissance squadron. 


According to a media advisory from USD-S, the Iraqi Air Force 70th Squadron [Recon] is moving from Basrah to Tallil and the Army Air Corps 4th Squadron [Mi-17s] is moving to Basrah from Taji.


The Iraqi Army Air Corps is getting a “New European Rocket” for its helicopters.  This rocket was identified as C8K and is probably a laser-guided version of the Russian S-8KOM 80mm rocket.


Ministry of Interior


The Tal Afar SWAT is now being called the 2nd Brigade.  This indicates a progression of reorganizing the Ninawa Emergency Police into standardized brigade structures.  The provincial paramilitary Emergency Police is being retrained/re-equipped and absorbed by the Federal Police and the MoI Emergency Response Force.


A 2nd Brigade in Salah al-Din Police Emergency Forces has been reported.  The 3rd Brigade was previously nationalized into the Federal Police and a 1st Brigade has never been reported in Salah al-Din.  The 1st Brigade could be the previously reported Sharqot Emergency Brigade.


“The minister of Interior, partnering with NATO Training Mission-Iraq has started a new program to train Iraq's oil police.  These students will undergo a six-week basic course taught by Italian Carabinieri that expands upon the current NATO Training Mission-Iraq Federal Police Training Program. The top 25 graduates of this course will then attend a four-week train-the-trainer course and become certified Oil Police instructors to sustain the training for future classes of Oil Police training.    Each class will consist of 50 Shurtas, 50 noncommissioned officers and 25 officers.  Additionally, nine more courses are planned between now and December 2011.  During this time, the program is expected to develop more than 1,100 Oil Police and some 225 instructors.”


This indicates a shift in NTM-I’s focus from Federal Police to training the OPD.  The OPD is seriously under-trained, under-equipped, and under-manned.  Many of its “battalions” are only company strength.

IA Divisions

Link to larger map


What follows is a speculation piece.  It is one of several possible options for the redistribution of old armor and the distribution of the new armor during the next 5 years.


With the exception of 2 divisions, all the Iraqi Army divisions with armor or indications of receiving armor are in only 1 brigade per division.  This could indicate that only 2 divisions are planned to be heavy by 2016 [end IMoD Phase 2] and that each of the remaining truck-motorized divisions are to get a single heavy brigade quick reaction force.        

  • 1st Division:  All of the armor [Panhard/Shorland/Mohafiz] is in 3/1 Brigade.
  • 2nd Division:  No armor reported but, Mosul has been regularly augmented with armor from 9th Armor Division.
  • 3rd Division:  1 battalion in 10/3 Brigade is equipped with M113s.
  • 4th Division:  No reports of heavy armor
  • 5th Division:  2 battalions of 20/5 Brigade equipped with salvaged wheeled APCs and M113s.  Also Diyala has been regularly augmented with armor from 9th Armor Division.
  • 6th Division:  56/6 Brigade is administratively attached to this division.  56/6 personnel have been reported receiving M113 crew training.
  • 7th Division:  2 battalions in 29/7 Brigade are equipped with BMP1s.
  • 8th Division:  1 battalion of the 33/8 Brigade has been receiving training in maintaining BMP1s.
  • 9th Armor Division:  In restructuring, receiving M113s, M1A1s, and BTR4s.  All 4 line brigades are being configured has heavy brigade combat teams.
  • 10th Division:  No reports of heavy armor.
  • 11th Division:  2 battalions in 42/11 Brigade and 44/11 Brigade are equipped with MTLBs and BMP1s.
  • 12th Division:  No reports of heavy armor.
  • 14th Division:  No armor reported but, Basrah has been regularly augmented with armor from 9th Armor Division.
  • 17th Division:  No armor reported but, south Baghdad has been regularly augmented with armor from 9th Armor Division.  Also, elements of this division have been reported conducting combined-arms training with US mechanized forces.


This conversion to 2 heavy divisions while providing the motorized infantry divisions with an armor brigade each could be a Phase 2 [2011-2016] objective.  With further upgrades adding to the number of mechanized or armored divisions during Phase 3 [2016-2020].


This would require the tank buys from the Ukraine to be 600-720 and an additional order of APCs but, that is well within the price zone of the reported 2.4 billion dollar purchase.  The variance [600-720] depends on whether the 18th and 19th Divisions are equipped with heavy brigades during their formation in Phase 2 or upgraded in Phase 3.  This would make for a total of 420 M1A1s and 600-720 Ukrainian tanks by 2016 plus the existing 180-200 T55s and T72s.


The 2 Kurdish Mountain divisions planned could be equipped with refurbished salvaged armor taken from the 3 old-IA heavy divisions surrendered in 2003.  That equipment is held by the Peshmerga.  An estimated 2 mechanized brigades worth of armor is in the Kurdish Regional Guards.  The 2 security divisions forming are personnel security and would not require heavy armor.


This would mean an Iraqi Army of 20 divisions in 2016: 

  • 4 infantry corps: Each corps with 4 truck-motorized infantry divisions - each infantry division with a heavy brigade. 
  • The 2 armored divisions [9th and 11th] would be in the Iraqi Ground Force Command’s strategic reserve.
  • The 2 security divisions [Presidential and Council] would remain under the Office of the Commander-in-Chief.
  • The 3-4 Peshmerga division equivalents [21 brigades] in the Kurdish Regional Guards could form a fifth “mountain” corps in wartime.


This pattern of upgrades could be partially driven by internal security needs.  The Federal Police is not ready to take over internal security and heavy brigades are not as effective in counter-insurgency.  The most developed Federal Police forces are in Baghdad where the 9th Armor Division and the 11th Division are located.  By spreading the brigade conversions among the IA divisions in the other provinces, they reduce the impact on IA internal security operations until the Federal Police are more capable in the provinces.


While this possible distribution of armor disperses 75 percent of the Iraqi Armor among 16 infantry divisions, it is a viable intermediate stage in development that provides an armor component to each IA divisional area. During Phase 3 [2016-2020], more divisions would be upgraded to mechanized and/or armored. 



Brigade OOB as of 30 September 2010 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during September 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 September 2010.  The June 2010 quarterly report to the US Congress “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” was summarized in a separate article and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • Peshmerga graduate IA Engineer School; Zerevani Federal Police getting HMMWV maintenance training.
  • 2nd batch of M1A1s arrive; IA training on BTR4s in Ukraine; order for 440 M113A2s.
  • Iraqi AF College restarts; 18 F16s to be ordered; AN32 delivering; 3 more T-6As arrive; Russians claim negotiations on air defense equipment.
  • PB301 arrives; simulators for OSVs being purchased.
  • Carabinarie training graduation; DBE Region V restructuring?




Integration and training of Peshmerga into the ISF continues.  The Iraqi Army is training and integrating 4 Kurdish Regional Guards Brigades [1 division equivalent].  The 1st Regional Guards Brigade is being trained at Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. Zerevani Police continue to be trained by the Federal Police and NATO Training Mission-Iraq at Camp Dublin.


Thirty-three Kurdish Army Soldiers graduated from the Iraq Army Engineer School at Camp Taji on 15 September. 

“As part of an introduction to the Iraqi Army, the Peshmerga officers and enlisted soldiers became familiar with current tactics, techniques and procedures being used by Iraqi Army engineers.  The 30-day course covered the most high-profile aspects of combat engineering, including route clearance and mine identification and detection. Students learned and conducted practical exercises on mounted and dismounted route clearance, mine-detecting robots and the capabilities of the Badger, an Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle.  A number of these graduates will likely return to the Engineer School at a later date to continue training in specialized engineering tasks.” 

If the Kurdish Regional Guards are being trained to use this equipment then they are probably going to be issued it.  An IA division normally has approximately 42 ILAV Badgers in its 14 engineering route-clearance detachments.


The Zerevani Police in the Kurdish region are also getting up-armored HMMWVs.  A contract for training mechanics for the Iraqi Interior Ministry to repair HMMWVs with an estimated completion date of 15 September 2012 has been awarded. Work is to be performed in the cities of Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah in Iraq.  The Federal Police plan to form a 6th FP Division out of the Kurdish Zerevani in the near future.


Iraqi Army


The 2nd batch of M1A1s arrived at Basrah.  According to Al Sumaria News, 12 M1A1s were delivered to Umm Qasr in early September.  Similar sized monthly deliveries are expected until all 140 of the initial order are delivered.  The option to order another 140 M1A1 tanks will probably be exercised later this year.


The first batch of BTR4 armored personnel carriers are due to deliver in October 2010.  This initial batch is 24 of the 420 ordered vehicles.  The turret on the BTR4s has been identified as the Parus turret with a 30mm cannon, 40mm grenade launcher, 7.62mm light machine gun, and Barrier laser guided anti-tank missiles.  Approximately 120 Iraqi Army personnel are training in the Ukraine as commanders, gunners, drivers, and maintenance troops.  Part of that training contingent has been identified as elements of the BMP1-equipped 3-35/9 Battalion.  This battalion is upgrading to the BTR4 as part of the modernization of the 9th Division.  Iraqi BTR4s will be used in the cavalry role filled by M3 Bradley CFVs in US heavy brigades.


The FMS notice for the sale of 440 M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers, being offered as Excess Defense Articles, has been published.  This is the 1st 440 M113A2s of 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles being offered to Iraq.  These armored personnel carriers are to be used as the mechanized component of the combined arms battalions being built around the M1A1 tanks.  Based on US modular heavy brigade combat team structure, the remaining 586 M113 FOVs being offered to Iraq are probably a mix of M1063 120mm Mortar Carriers, M901 Improved TOW Vehicles, M113 Ambulances, M806 Repair and Recovery Vehicles, and M548 Cargo Carriers.   Also possible but unlikely options include the M125 81mm Mortar Carrier [The IA is probably going with all M1063s.] and M577 Command Vehicles [The excess BTR-4K Command and BTR-4Ksh Staff vehicles ordered make this doubtfull.].


Iraqi Air Force


Training at the Iraqi Air Force College has restarted.  Iraqi Air Force training split from the Iraqi Army earlier this year and with  the Iraqi Air Force’s planned expansion this is a significant event.  “The Iraqi air force has approximately 5,000 airmen [officer and enlisted] today. That number is projected to grow to nearly 12,000 by the end of 2012.” 


The FMS notice of a possible sale of 18 F-16IQ aircraft has been published.  Some of the ordinance  included in this notice was:  200 AIM-9L/M-8/9 SIDEWINDER Missiles, 150 AIM-7M-F1/H SPARROW Missiles, 50 AGM-65D/G/H/K MAVERICK Air to Ground Missiles, 200 GBU-12 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (500 pound), 50 GBU-10 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound), and 50 GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound).  That part of the notice was unusual in that the numbers are small and the delivery time for this ordinance is much sooner than for the aircraft.  This could mean that the ordinance part of this order is for live-fire training of Iraqi aircrew prior to the delivery of the aircraft.  Iraqi pilots intended for the F16 are being trained in Texas by the USAF.


The 1st Iraqi Air Force AN32 has been produced and is delivering this month.  This aircraft was photographed flying near Kiev.  3 AN32s are to be delivered by the end of 2010.  A delivery rate of 3 each year is planned with the last of the first order of 10 delivered in 2013.


A batch of 3 more T6A Texan trainers transited to Iraq arriving in Tikrit on 21 September.  4 more of these trainers are scheduled to arrive in November 2010.  Only 15 are ordered but Iraq has permissions to buy 20 total T-6A and 36 AT-6Bs.  Budget issues reduced the planned purchases.


While Iraq is reported by the Russians as negotiating with Russia for Air Defense equipment, this must be considered unconfirmed and possible false reporting.  Russian sources have repeatedly claimed major arms sales in negotiation with Iraq only to have nothing result.


Iraqi Navy


The 1st Swiftship built Iraqi patrol boat arrived at Umm Qasr.  PB301 was welcomed to the Iraqi Navy just in time for Navy Day.  Three more Swiftship PBs are scheduled to arrive in December with the remaining 11 to be delivered in 2011.


Iraq is purchasing four simulators and associated training for Iraqi Naval Forces in support of Iraq’s 60 meter offshore support vessel hull production.  These 2 ships are scheduled to be delivered in 2011 and 2012.


Ministry of Interior


NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) held a graduation ceremony for 527 Iraqi policemen and Kurdish Zerevani as they completed joint Federal Police training at Camp Dublin, Iraq on 23 September 2010.  This is the 14th batch if Federal Police (5th batch of Zerevani) to graduate from Carabinarie training.  Of note, this is only 1 battalion plus Zerevani contingent – for over a year now, these courses have been training batches of 2 battalions (over 900).  Identification of this graduating battalion and the reason for the slowdown in training are not available.


The Region V Department of Border Enforcement headquarters and training appears to have moved to Diwaniyah from Najaf.  Also, Region V appears to be short a brigade.  The 9th DBE Brigade is in training in Basrah and the 11th DBE Brigade is also reported in Region IV.  Only the 12th DBE Brigade is still reported in Region V – an area covering the Saudi border from the Kuwait tri-border to Ar’Ar.   

The unclassified version of the June 2010 quarterly report to CongressMeasuring Stability and Security in Iraq” was publicly released on 7 September.  While the report includes information on Iranian Influence, Iraqi Budget, Iraqi Unemployment, Shia Militants, and Attacks, this summary will not address those topics.


This article highlights and summarizes key items concerning the Iraqi Security Forces.  The data cutoff date for this report, unless otherwise stated, is 31 May 2010.  Italics are quotes from the report.  [ ] marks indicate added comments or amplification.  Boldface has been added to highlight key points.




Another indicator of increasing national unity this period was the progress made on Arab-Kurd issues, including the integration of additional Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) into the ISF. Prime Minister Maliki’s April 16, 2010 acknowledgement of four unified Peshmerga Regional Guards Brigades (RGBs) as part of the ISF eliminated legal constraints in training and equipping the RGBs, and cleared the way for integrated Peshmerga-ISF training and operations in the future.


USF-I initiated new discussions between the KRG and the GoI to integrate KRG Peshmerga forces into the ISF. Integrating the Peshmerga forces into the ISF will increase the security partnership between the MoD and KRG, and ultimately increase capability to secure Iraq from internal and external threats.   Actual integration of Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) into the ISF occurred when PM Maliki recognized four Peshmerga Regional Guards Brigades (RGBs) as part of the ISF in April 2010, opening the way for these units to receive training and equipping assistance from USF-I.  The unification of these RGBs may serve as a model for KSF-ISF integration in the years ahead, but lack of clarity on, or rather the loss of, command and control (C2) relationships associated with integration has made KRG put the brakes on further integration of Peshmerga for the time being.


The KRG continues to make progress in its strategic goal of clarifying the legal status of Kurdish Security Forces: Peshmerga (military), Zervani (police), Assayesh (internal security), and Parastin/Zenyari (intelligence). In 2003, under Coalition Provisional Authority 91, the PUK and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Peshmerga were both classified as militia. In 2005, Article 9 of the Iraqi Constitution outlawed independent political party militias, while a single guard force beholden to the regional government was authorized under Article 121. In 2006, the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament (IKP) approved legislation outlining a framework for Kurdish Peshmerga unification and integration into the IA, but did not identify a timeline. Following elections in June 2009, the 6th KRG was formed in October 2009, merging the final party-controlled ministries into single KRG entities. In December 2009, yet to be passed draft legislation introduced in the IKP called for, “disarming militias/unregulated forces for the building of one force.” In January 2010, the PUK and KDP command authorities were brought under the control of the new ministry.


In January, the first integrated, apolitical Peshmerga brigade was formed as a Regional Guard Brigade (RGB), with three more formed and integrated by March 2010. In April 2010, KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs, Jafar Mustafa Ali, asserted the two commands of Peshmerga were united, with a total number of 90,000 men under the ministry’s authority.  Minister Jafar also confirmed the ministry’s financial and administrative unification.  Although the four RGBs have been integrated, Kurdish intelligence forces continue to operate under political party control. In April 2010, the IKP ratified the 2010 KRG budget. Portions of the budget still allocate funds to both KDP and PUK Assayesh forces, with a note “to unify the budget of the two administrations within the next six months.” The ministerial advisory team was established in Irbil in April 2010, and on April 16, 2010, PM Maliki acknowledged the RGBs as part of the ISF. PM Maliki’s letter, recognizing the integrated RGBs as security forces of Iraq, enabled USF-I to incorporate them into the training and equipping plan, setting the course for the full integration of Peshmerga forces into ISF training and operations.


[5 RGBs have been reported on: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 12th, and 43rd.  Additional RGBs beyond this may have been added.  This is just the start.  Originally, 2 Peshmerga Divisions with 8 total brigades [almost 30,000 personnel] were to transfer to the Iraqi Army in 2008 and this may be the restart of that deal.  There are 5 to 6 Peshmerga division-equivalents in the KSF.]


On April 28, 2010, the Iraqi Minister of Defense and the Minister of Peshmerga Affairs signed an agreement committing to the establishment of liaison offices at the MoD and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.  Additionally, the MoD also agreed to several initiatives designed to enhance training opportunities for RGB officers and noncommissioned officers at IA Training Centers and Schools beginning in July 2010.


In May 2010, the Minister of Interior recognized a portion of Kurdish Zerevani forces as agents of the GoI with the responsibility for internal security in the Kurdish region. Specifically, Minister Bolani’s letter acknowledged the lawful security authority under Article 121 of the Iraqi Constitution for those KRG internal security forces in the employ of the Kurdistan Regional Ministry of the Interior and disassociated with political parties and private interests. This federal recognition of Kurdish Government forces paved the way for USF-I’s training and equipping initiatives and set the course for the full integration of Zerevani forces into Iraqi FP training and operations. Later in May 2010, the Kurdish Minister of Interior and Iraqi Minister of Interior signed a tripartite agreement with USF-I outlining steps for integrated training, operating and equipping between the FP and the Zerevani. In this agreement, the ministers clearly stated the future objective of integrating the Zerevani into the FP, unifying this force.


[30,000 Zerevani police are reported to be transferred to Iraqi MoI.  This is a 2 division-sized force.  Zerevani police have been included in Carabinarie training since 2009.]


With the formation of RGBs and the pending integration of the Zerevani forces into the FP, a unique opportunity has arisen to promote stability between the northern region and the rest of Iraq. Additional resources are required to support advising, training, assisting, and equipping efforts in support of this integration.


Iraqi Army


There are currently 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations. Although the IA continues to make steady progress toward MEC, it will not achieve a foundation for defense against external threats before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements to complete development of four modern divisions (one mechanized and three infantry). Specifically, equipping, training, and combined arms integration of the M1A1 fleet, artillery units, and key mechanized enablers will not be complete.


[The ISF OOB indicates 7 battalions more than the June report.  These are either new battalions (at least 5 known new battalions reported on in the 24th and 37th Brigades this summer) and/or re-designated/transferred battalions.]


As of May 2010, there are 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and six Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) battalions. The force generation of the COIN force enablers (Logistics, Intelligence, Communications, and Engineering) will be completed by July 2010.  The force generation goal for 2011 is to establish a foundational capability to defend against external threats, which is the MEC. A key component of this foundational capability is the development of four modern divisions (one mechanized and three infantry) in the IA.  Although the IA continues to make steady progress, these four divisions will not be complete before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements. Specifically, equipping, training, and combined arms integration of the M1A1fleet, artillery units, and key mechanized enablers will not be complete.


[The ISF OOB indicates 1 protection battalion more based on the previous 2 quarterly reports.  There were 6 battalions reported in 1st and 2nd Presidential Brigades plus 15 Independent Security Battalions.  This reduction could indicate a reorganization of this 2 division-sized security force.]


Maintenance operations continue to improve, but an inability to fund and maintain a trained workforce and a lack of long-term contracts at the national level for repair parts could detrimentally affect critical equipment readiness. Fleet rationalization – decreasing the number of total vehicle variants from 214 down to 71 – is the first in a series of steps the Iraqis have taken to optimize repair part requirements in the form of an Authorized Stockage List. Currently they are working to develop required stockage lists for their top five systems.


The IA currently has 13 infantry divisions and one partially fielded mechanized division organized under the IGFC. Ground forces include 196 IA battalions in 55 combat brigades organized into 51 infantry, three mechanized, and one tank brigade. Recent force generation focus has been on enabler units such as Logistics, Communications, Intelligence, and Engineering.


[There are signs and reporting of additional new battalions, brigades, and divisions being assembled or planned, however, they apparently did not form in the March-May period of this report.]


During the last six months, 46 enabler units have completed Unit Set Fielding. The force generation of these essential Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) units into the IA will be completed by the end of July 2010.


[What enabler units?  Other than the support commands in Maysan, there has been no reporting of additional support units during this period.  CS/CSS designation is normally a brigade-level or lower reference.  Are these components for brigade support battalions forming?  Only 9th Mechanized Division’s brigades have Brigade Support Battalions – are they adding them to the other IA brigades?  This could mean that 50 of the 55 existing IA brigades have at least partially formed BSBs.]


The school’s cadre of instructors provides all instruction on the 120mm mortar system. The 120mm fielding and training of 55 batteries is expected to conclude in June 2010.  At the end of June 2010, the 81mm mortar fielding will reach a significant milestone when all 180 mortar platoons complete training.


[All of the IA infantry/motorized battalion equipped with 81mm mortars and all of the IA brigades equipped with 120mm mortars.  Next phase:  howitzers.]


Iraqi Special Operations Force


Iraqi National Counter-Terrorism Force (INCTF).  Under PM Directive 61, signed in April 2007, the INCTF is independent of both the MoD and MoI. The CoR, however, has not ratified the CT Law that would establish the CTS as a separate ministry. The proposed CT Law (bill) was initially introduced in September 2008.  After being returned to the CoM, the bill had its first reading before the CoR in July 2009.  Under the Iraqi Constitution, once a general election has been successfully certified, the previous CoR’s tenure is expired along with any un-passed legislation. This is now the case with the expired CT Law legislation. The legislative process will now have to be restarted with a completely new bill and submitted for a first reading by the new CoR members who are expected to be seated sometime in mid-2010.  If the CT Law had passed, it would have formalized a ministerial-level position for the CTS Director and provided regular appropriations and funding. Currently, CTS’ status as an extra-constitutional agency hinders coordination as well as maintenance and sustainment support from the MoD. INCTF leaders and U.S. advisors continue to emphasize to key Iraqi leaders the need for a robust CT capacity in Iraq under the control of a constitutionally recognized body such as the MoD.


[Further political delays in organizing the 3rd ministry of the security Troika.]


INCTF is currently manned at 5,725 personnel.  The CTS is currently manned at 384 personnel, and the CTC currently has 915 personnel. The 1st ISOF Brigade has 2,793 personnel, and the 2nd ISOF Brigade has 1,633 personnel.  Recently, after being pressured by the PM, the Minister of Defense promised to transfer 700 active duty soldiers to the ISOF Brigades to help ease manpower shortages. During this reporting period, 290 of the transferees arrived to participate in the selection process at the CTC’s “Academia” organization of which 263 were selected to continue on to Commando Training to be conducted in June 2010.


[No mention of the ISOF BTR80s or the training reported on maintaining them.  This armor upgrade may have transferred later or still be pending.  It is possible that the IA BTR80 equipped battalions may transfer to ISOF as intact formations.]


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force’s (IqAF’s) December 2011 goal is the development of a capability to support ISF COIN operations and to have an initial air sovereignty capability in place. The IqAF is on the path to achieving MEC by the end of 2011 in all mission categories except airspace control and fixed-wing airlift. USF-I assesses that the IqAF will achieve MEC in C2, ISR, rotary-wing airlift, ground attack, combat support, and personnel development by December 2011. Airspace control is a subset of air sovereignty that has been identified by USFI as sufficient for IqAF MEC. Airspace control includes the ability to surveil the airspace, warn of an incursion, and the ability to respond. Due to delivery timelines of an appropriate platform, the IqAF will likely lack an ability to respond with force to airspace violations, and will lack sufficient fixed-wing airlift. With continued support from U.S. Air Force advisors and adequate resourcing from the GoI, improvements in accessions, airlift, flying and technical training, air staff effectiveness, ground attack, combat support, and C2 should demonstrably contribute to internal security while setting the stage for future growth to a full military capacity. In order to help the IqAF achieve this goal and to build an enduring strategic relationship, Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force (ITAM-AF) remains engaged across Iraq.


Based on the IqAF’s move to Habbinyah and the likelihood of pilot training operations remaining at Kirkuk and Tikrit, the 321 AEW modified its Main Operating Base/Forward Operating Base (MOB/FOB) advising strategy. The strategy now includes five MOBs (Tikrit, Taji, New Al Muthana Air Base - NAMAB, Kirkuk, and Ali Air Base), and six FOBs (Qaiyara – Q-West, Al Asad, Al Hurriya – Kirkuk, Balad, Al Kut, and Basrah).  321 AEW continues to take advantage of partnering opportunities between operational U.S. Forces and IqAF counterparts to accelerate the capabilities development of the IqAF.


In 2010, IqAF Officer Training will move from Rustimayah to Tikrit, and portions of the flying training wing are expected to move from Kirkuk Airbase to Tikrit Airbase. For the IqAF, Tikrit will become the Center of Excellence for training. The IqAF currently has 207 qualified fixed and rotary-wing pilots with another 167 in the training pipeline. Included in the 167 are 34 pilots who are attending out of country training in the U.S., the UK, Italy, and Jordan. Three of these students are enrolled in the U.S. Aviation Leadership Program (ALP). One of the ALP students is expected to graduate this summer, and the other two are expected to graduate in December 2010. Also included in the 34 out of country training student number are 13 qualified pilots undergoing initial and recurring training in the C-130E and King Air 350 in the United States. In April 2010, the first IqAF pilots began academic training in the T-6A. This first class is expected to produce the first six IqAF T-6A instructors. The pilots have now started the flying portion of their training and are expected to complete their T-6A instructor pilot training in summer 2011.


The IqAF currently has a total of 106 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The IqAF received four Gazelles this quarter with the remaining two expected in the next few months; these aircraft are armed with a 20mm cannon and will be used by the IqAF to develop ground attack pilots. The new Gazelles will be based at Taji. In May 2010, the first two Mi-17MMs arrived in country. They will undergo initial testing for the door guns and then be turned over to the GoI in mid-June 2010.  These aircraft have advanced avionics and defensive systems that will expand Iraq’s battlefield mobility capabilities. Delivery of all 22 Mi-17MMs is expected by December 2011.


Iraqi Navy


The IqN’s December 2011 goal is to be capable of providing maritime security of territorial waters and to be able to defend key infrastructure, including the Khawar Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) oil platforms, the Umm Qasr port, and naval base. With the acquisition of new vessels, a comprehensive infrastructure build program for the Umm Qasr Naval Base, and an increase in training capacity brought about by an increase in the number of personnel supporting the training mission, the IqN is on track to achieve its short and medium-term transition milestones. On its current trajectory, the IqN will achieve MEC prior to December 31, 2011. By USF-I’s end of mission, the IqN will have the MEC to defend the critical oil export infrastructure against current security threats. However, the importance of this infrastructure to the Iraqi economy mandates a higher level of capability.  Therefore, USF-I anticipates a requirement for a regional presence that can respond to emergencies as the IqN matures from MEC to a fully capable force. Achievement of MEC by USF-I’s end of mission is subject to shortfalls in manning, C4ISR, maintenance, and infrastructure being adequately addressed over the coming months.


The Iraqi Marines have received approval to recruit new accessions in the second or third quarter of the calendar year. As with other elements of the Iraqi Armed Forces, the IqM are in the process of establishing their self-sufficiency and are recruiting personnel from the IA. The future intent is for recruits to have completed the basic ‘Jundi’ course for marines and Iraqi Military Academy Rustamyia for the officers before joining the IqM. All recruits will then complete a rigorous IqM Phase-2 professional course to deliver specialist MSO and GSO-derived skills.


[IqM is showing signs of a planned expansion.]


Iraqi Federal Police


The MoI has an aggregate equipment fill of 90% in critical items for its police forces.  Since March 2010, the MoI has received 49 armored security vehicles to complete the fourth of eight planned mechanized battalions for the FP. The FP now have 180 of these vehicles. Additionally, the MoI now has 1,000 patrol vehicles, 17 fuel trucks, and 24 water trucks to enhance its ability to expand operations throughout outlying provincial areas and along Iraq’s oil pipelines. In the third and fourth quarters of 2010, the MoI will receive major shipments of repair parts for its patrol vehicle fleet, training aids for its police colleges, and heavy equipment for the FP Engineer Company. Capabilities generated include the ability to sustain the MoI fleet of 42,000 patrol vehicles, crime scene training for officer candidates, and heavy lift capability for FP Engineers. Over the next 18 months, the MoI will receive all of its required critical items to achieve MEC by the end of 2011.


[Previous reporting indicated a planned FP mechanized division (maybe more than 1).  Either that planned division is being reduced in size or the planned 8 mechanized battalions are an intermediate stage.  It is also possible that a Mechanized brigade per each FP division is planned.]


The current quarter marks the start of the resubordination of the Baghdad Provincial Emergency Response Units into the FP ranks, which will potentially bring an additional 2,000 to 3,000 personnel into the FP. To support this expansion, the FP maintains a versatile and capable training system, assisted by the Italian Carabinieri, who continue to advise and train the FP. In turn, the FP have offered their training capacity to assist other MoI organizations in their readiness efforts, most notably the Kurdish Zervani, and in the coming quarter, IP Emergency Response Units from Mosul.


[FP continues to absorb provincial Emergency Police into their forces.  Baghdad EP is more than 3,000 which indicates only a brigade was being absorbed from there.  Mosul has 2 brigades worth of emergency police.]


Current FP organizational structure includes four FP divisions. The 1st and 2nd FP divisions currently stand at 62% and 63% of MTOE strength. The 3rd FP Division, currently manned at 53% of MTOE strength, controls four brigades and provides security in Diyala, Mosul, Salah ad Din, and Anbar. The 4th FP Division currently has one operational brigade and two more in force generation, and has a presence in Wasit, Maysan, and Baghdad.


[4th FP Division’s operational brigade is in Basrah.  For some reason Basrah was left out of this discription even though 4th FP Division HQ is in Basrah.]


The vision of the FP CG is to field a force of five FP divisions. Continued expansion of the FP into the provinces is supported by a three year plan to base a brigade-sized FP force in each province, with five regionally-based division HQ controlling these units, and division support battalions providing logistical support. This would provide for a total force of five FP divisions, consisting of 25 FP brigades and 85 FP battalions, across Iraq. Recent discussions among FP and MoI leadership envisions a possible sixth FP division in the northern Kurdish controlled regions, formed from FP-trained Zervani personnel.


[Intermediate planned strength for 2013:  6 Divisions. Using this new structure of 5 brigades per FP division, there are enough emergency police to absorb into the FP to form 13-14 divisions.]


The FP continues to improve its capabilities to assume a greater role in the security of Iraq.  The fielding of additional U.S. provided equipment, and assimilation of provincial IP Emergency Response Unit personnel into its ranks, will positively affect the FP’s ability to assume these roles. Public perception of the FP is increasingly positive, as they continue to be viewed as a federal force that is not tied to local influences, sectarian loyalties, or corruption.  Challenges include the ability to sustain and maintain the force they have. The FP Sustainment Brigade suffers from the same issues that the line units do with regard to personnel and equipment, which will limit future growth. There is a lack of engineering staff at the division level. The FP leadership will be unable to provide facilities for the full force prior to 2016 due to facilities cost, which are approximately $15 million per brigade headquarters, and project time requirements.


Oil Police


The OP are tasked with securing and protecting the GoI’s oil infrastructure to prevent interdiction and theft. They are organized into four directorates: North, Central, South, and Headquarters. Each directorate has a mobile emergency battalion assigned. The OP is currently manned at approximately 29,000 personnel. There are 16 IA battalions assisting the OP in their mission by securing various sections of Iraq’s strategic pipelines. Although the OP is a capable force, they do not have the manpower to relieve the IA battalions from the pipeline now or in the near future.


The OP, assimilated into the MoI in 2009, became a line item in the MoI budget for 2010, which will increase assistance in manning, equipment, and training from the MoI. In the 2010 budget, the OP has an established authorization of 29,500 personnel, approximately 10,000 short of the requirement to replace the 16 IA battalions on the pipeline.  In an effort to reduce manning requirements, USF-I funded outposts, consisting of guard towers with a pre-fabricated support building, were emplaced along remote sections of oil pipelines this quarter. These outposts raise the guards’ observation capabilities, allowing increased distances between outposts, thereby decreasing required manning. To focus unit training efforts, the OP have created a 2010 battalion-level master training plan.


ITAM-Police advisors will continue to assist the OP in developing a manpower requirements document for presentation to the MoI. ITAM estimates with the expected growth of the oil industry over the course of the next few years, the OP will require at least 47,000 policemen (an increase of 17,500 personnel) to relieve the IA battalions and effectively protect Iraq’s oil infrastructure. To increase training readiness, 2011 efforts will focus on developing and conducting advanced and specialized courses.


Facilities Protection Service


The FPS is tasked with securing and protecting over 13,000 critical infrastructure locations throughout Iraq, including government buildings, mosques and religious sites, hospitals, schools and colleges, dams, highways, and bridges. To accomplish this, the FPS headquarters is divided into three directorates. The First and Second Directorates protect sites and ministries within Baghdad Province. The third directorate, known as the Provinces Directorate, controls the FPS headquarters in each of the remaining 14 provinces. The total FPS force presently consists of a combination of approximately 17,000 police and 77,000 contractors.


In March 2010, the PM publicly announced that all FPS contractors that meet MoI hiring standards will be hired as full-time IP. This mandate, if executed, will resolve a 50% pay disparity between the full-time IP and their contractor counterparts, and is projected to increase morale of the force. Also in March 2010, the PM directed a consolidation of all security and facility protection personnel in the Ministry of Industry (with 12,000 facilities protection personnel) and the Baghdad Municipality (with 4,000 facilities protection personnel) into the FPS by the end of 2010.  This will bring the FPS total force to approximately 110,000 personnel.


Items not mentioned or brushed over in the report.


The June 2010 report was released 1 month later than normal.  This indicates a problem in sanitization of the classified version to produce the unclassified version.  The problem with figuring out what hung up releasing the unclassified version is that you can only guess based on the absence of data that should be there.


Items brushed over and details not mentioned that are known - erased from the public version include but are not limited to:

1.  All of the praetorian units [direct subbordinate to OCinC] were brushed over or not mentioned.  No mention of 56th Brigade.   No mention of Presidential brigades and ISBs.  Just the bean count of the 20 protection battalions with no mention of brigade structure.  No mention of MoI's ERF.

2.  In ISOF, no mention of the BTR80 transfer even though ISOF personnel were reported training on them as early as December 2009.  

3.  No mention of the Karkh Area Command Strike Team either. KACST appears to have dropped off of all reporting this summer. 

4.  Even though the report addresses FMS and mentions modernizing 1 mechanized and 3 infantry divisions for external, no details.  No mention of heavy equipment transfers.  ICOD was 31 May 2010.  At that point the transfer of major US Excess equipment [1026 M113s, 24 M109s, etc.] was already finalized.  I wrote about it less than a month after the ICOD.  Yet there is no mention of these major items...


Brigade OOB as of 31 August 2010


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during August 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 August 2010.  The conversion of Iraqi heavy brigades to a modified US Army modular structure was addressed in a separate article.


Highlights in this update include:

  • Lasta95s, Mi17s, and M1A1s delivered.  80 M1117s contracted for.
  • Peshmerga start Iraqi Army training.
  • New Operations Center in Kirkuk.  9th Division moving to Besmaya?  Maintenance training course on M1A1s identified.   Initial brigade receiving training on BTR4s identified.   37/9 Brigade upgrading to tanks.  16/4 Brigade converting to modular?
  • Ministry of Interior concentrating on EOD.


Arms Deliveries and Purchases


The 1st Lasta-95 basic trainers have been delivered to Iraq.  All 20 are to be delivered by end 2010. 2 sets of 3 aircraft each were delivered in August by truck from Serbia.


Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced the 3rd installment of Mi-17s received from Russia for the Army Air Corps.  These additional 8 Mi-17s is part of an ongoing order of helicopters.  5 squadrons worth of Mi-17 aircrew have been reported trained by 2009 but only 2 squadrons are commissioned.  These aircraft are for the next squadron to be commisioned.


 The 1st 11 M1A1s and 1 M88 have arrived in Iraq and been sent to Besmaya.  The remaining 129 tanks and seven recovery vehicles are scheduled to be delivered on a monthly basis until about Dec 2011. This initial order is for upgrading the 9th Mechanized Division. 


 The Ministry of Interior has a contract for 80 more armored military vehicles for the Iraqi Federal Police, to be contracted through the U.S. Army Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. Of the 80 vehicles, 72 will be configured as Armored Personnel Carriers.  A total of 184 vehicles (122 ASV and 62 APC) have already been delivered to Iraq under previous procurements. This indicates that the FP is about to commission a 2nd Mechanized Brigade.




The Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Kurdish Regional concluded a deal to provide the Peshmerga with Iraqi Army training this summer.  The 1st battalion of the Kurdish Regional Border Guards started training in August.  The 1st Battalion of the 1st Regional Guards Brigade is in IA basic training at Sulaymaniyah Training Center.  Zerevani Peshmerga Police have been training with Federal Police since late-2009.


There are also Peshmerga receiving maintenance training.  “more than 80 soldiers in the Kurdish Regional Guard Brigade began training to perform preventive maintenance checks and services on the Iraqi International Troop Carrier Truck.”  These units may “officially” transfer to Iraqi Army after training. 


Iraqi Army


For the first time a “Kirkuk Operations Center” was mentioned by a USF-I spokesman.  This command was mentioned on same level as Diyala and Ninawa Operational Commands and indicates a new corps-level joint command has been established. 


There is a report indicating that the 9th Mechanized Division is relocating its headquarters and training from Taji with the departure of US forces from FOB Hammer. "Hammer will act as the home of the Mechanized Iraqi 9th Division."  FOB Hammer is co-located at the Besmaya Combat Training center – the home of Iraqi Armor Training – and previously housed a US Brigade.


A new M1A1 maintenance course at Besmaya has been identified.  “18 graduated the Unit Maintenance New Equipment Training Course at Besmaya 10 Aug.  The 63-day course is a mirror of the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams Tank System Maintainer course that U.S. Soldiers go through in the United States.”  


According to an unconfirmed report, a platoon commander on BMP1s from the 35th Brigade [9th Mechanized Division] is going to Ukraine this month to be trained on the BTR4.  There was no mention of his transferring from the brigade.  BTR4s may be planned to fill the role of M3/Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles in IA heavy brigades.


Tanks have been transferred into 9th Mechanized Division’s 37th Light Mechanized Brigade, beginning the conversion into a heavy brigade.  A photograph of 37th Brigade’s new tanks has been acquired showing former 34th Mechanized Brigade’s T55 and T72s.  The T55s have 6-37/9 Battalion markings and appear to have been recently refurbished.  The markings in the refurbished T72s are not visible but, probably belong to the 5-37/9 Battalion.  The scene in the photo looks like preparation for a commissioning ceremony.  The 6-37/9 [and inferred 5-37/9] Battalion are new designations and the BTR80s in 1-37/9, 2-37/9, and 3-37/9 Battalions are transferring to ISOF.  The status of 4-37/9 Battalion’s EE-9 Scout Cars is not known but they are probably transferring to ISOF or the 56th Brigade.


The IA light brigades may be starting conversion to modular structure.   According to a US Division-North press release there is a "...Commando Battalion of the 16th Iraqi Army Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division."  This could be an error referring to the commando/scout company of 16/4 Brigade but, USD-N and US Forces-Iraq have not corrected it after being asked.  16/4 Brigade has not been previously reported with a commando battalion.   Iraqi Army commando battalions fill the same role as US Army cavalry [recon] battalions and US modular brigades each have a cavalry battalion.


Ministry of Interior


EOD appears to be the Ministry of Interior’s focus at this time.  The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Explosives Directorate is building a Training Center at Salman Pak.  It is planned to be complete in mid-2011. 


A photo of ILAV Badger engineering route-clearance vehicles [with claws] in MoI’s Federal Police colors has been acquired.  It is not known which elements of the Federal Police have these MRAPs or how many ILAVs have been acquired by the FP.  Prior to the receipt of this photo, only the Iraqi Army was known to have these vehicles.  The only FP unit previously publically reported as receiving route-clearance training was the 1st Federal Police Mechanized Brigade in 2009.


According to Iraqi press, EOD is also becoming a training focus for some provincial police.  "The al-Anbar Police Command has started anti-explosives departments in every police station in the province." 

37th bde tanks[Photo of 37th Brigade’s ‘new’ tanks.  Marking on the foreground tank indicates 6th Battalion, 37th Brigade.]


The Iraqi Army is modeled on a modified US Army division structure.  While the motorized and infantry divisions are still pre-modular, the heavy brigades are organized on the modular pattern.  Recent information [not all confirmed] on purchases, training, and the distribution of newly acquired armor point towards a target of 17 IA heavy brigades and an armor training brigade by the end of the Phase 2 upgrades [2011-2016].  This indicates 4 armor divisions and a heavy brigade or [more likely] 1 armored and 4 mechanized divisions plus a heavy brigade [not including the armor training brigade] are planned for the operational force by 2016.  However, major components such as additional tanks, self-propelled artillery, and support are still to be ordered.


US Army Heavy Brigade Combat Teams are organized as follows:
  • Brigade Special Troops Battalion consisting of headquarters troops including engineers, chemical defense, military police and admin troops.
  • Two Combined Arms Battalions [CAB].  Each CAB has 2 tank companies and 2 mechanized companies.  Primary equipment in each CAB is 30 Abrams tanks and 30 M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
  • Cavalry Battalion [Armored Recon] with 3 troops [companies] equipped with 30 M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles and 12 Bradley Fire Support Tracks [BFIST].
  • Brigade Support Battalion providing the maintenance, support, and transport elements that makes the brigade capable of independent operations.


According to a single-source [unconfirmed], personnel from the 35/9 Armored Brigade’s BMP1 crews are going to Ukraine for training on BTR4 in September 2010.  There was no mention of the personnel transferring from 35/9 Armored Brigade.  35/9 Armored Brigade’s M113 APC-equipped 4-35/9 Battalion are also receiving refresure training in M1A1 tanks in preparation for their upgrade.  This indicates a mix of M1A1 tanks with M113s plus BTR4s are intended for this and the other brigades being upgraded.  The 35th and 36th Brigades of 9th Division are the first brigades planned to upgrade to M1A1 tanks.


Also upgrading in the 9th Division [as illustrated in the photo above] is the 37/9 Brigade.  The 37/9 Brigade was a light mechanized brigade equipped with 98 BTR80 APCs and 35 EE9 90mm gun armed Scout cars.  Iraqi Special Operations Force personnel were noted training in maintaining BTR80s in December 2009 indicating those armored vehicles are being transferred from 37/9 Brigade to ISOF.  The addition of tanks to 37/9 Brigade indicates it is converting to a HBCT.  There has been no reporting of where the EE9s are going; possible candidates include ISOF and 56th Brigade.  The 'new' tanks in 37th Brigade are probably refurbished transfers from the upgrading 35th and 36th Brigades.


The 56th (Baghdad) Brigade had crews for 2 CAB’s worth of M113s trained on M113s earlier this year.  This training points towards this praetorian brigade being reconfigured to a HBCT.  The 56th Brigade is administratively attached to the 6th Division but is actually under the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, responsible for the security of the International Zone.  It is possible that the 56th Brigade will be augmented with the EE9s from 37/9 Brigade.


What this all indicates is a restructuring and upgrade of 17 Iraqi Army brigades with the following modifications to the US structure:

  • BTR-4K Command Vehicles and BTR-4KSh Staff Vehicles - in place of M577 Command Vehicles in 2 divisions plus a brigade.
  • BSEM-4K Armored Ambulance - in place of M113 ambulances in 2 divisions plus a brigade.
  • BTR-4 Line [Still do not know which turret version.] in 9 brigades and probably BMP1 used in this role for 8 brigades - in place of M3 Bradley CFV.
  • M113A3, MTLB, and Type 63 APCs - in place of M2 Bradley IFV in the 17 HBCTs.
  • M1064A3 120mm Mortar Carriers - in place of 3 of the 4 field artillery batteries in US formations.
  • Probably MOP-4K Fire Support Vehicles in 9 brigades and probably BMP1 used in this role for 8 brigades.


Total existing armor plus armor orders [and their options] point to the equivalent of 4 armored divisions [More likely 1 armored and 4 mechanized.] and a HBCT [56th Brigade] - 17 HBCTs plus a mixed-equipment Armored Training Brigade.  Iraqi armored divisions will be organized with 4 HBCTs while Iraqi mechanized divisions would have 3 HBCTs and a motorized brigade.  This is similar to the US structure where Mechanized Infantry Divisions are a mix of brigade types and the 1st Cavalry Division has all HBCTs.


All of the planned deliveries of armor are scheduled to arrive by 2014 but, major components are still missing – tanks, SP artillery, fire-support vehicles, and support vehicles.  Total existing tanks and ordered/optioned tanks only equip 7 HBCTs and the training element, which means an additional 600 tanks are needed to fill out this developing structure.  While some of that may be additional M1A1 Abrams, the price and delivery delays point towards tanks from elsewhere.   


The BTR4 [and AN-32] order from the Ukraine is just the first $550 million of five annual orders from the Ukraine expected to total $2.4 billion.  Some of that will be spent on additional repair/recovery vehicles and the 120 MOP-4K fire-support vehicles, as well as additional transport aircraft.  Also likely is tanks; Oplot, Yatagan, or used T72s.  It is possible that more than 600 tanks will be purchased from the Ukraine as the Iraqi Army plans to upgrade to more than just 17 HBCTs.  17 HBCTs and the training element are just the apparent target goal for Phase 2 [2011-2015] upgrades.  The goal for Phase 3 [2016-2020] is 8-10 heavy divisions in the Iraqi Army.


Other items [besides tanks/FSVs], missing from the orders, and needed to fill out this Phase 2 structure includes:

*   Artillery for all IA divisions [towed for motorized/infantry].  Approx 72 howitzers per division.  Only about 3 divisions worth exist or are reported being provided and all but 30 M109s are towed.  Each HBCT requires 6 self-propelled howitzers [24 total in Armor Division's HBCTs] plus each division artillery regiment requires another 48 howitzers.

*   Armored Recovery Vehicles, Repair Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Transporters.  Total existing/ordered only support 1 division so far. 

*   Only 1 bridging company’s worth of equipment is being provided so far, 4 companies [battalion] are the standard minimum per heavy division.


The likely candidates [other than 9th Division and 56th Brigade] for upgrade have been addressed previously and there are no further indicators as to which division(s) will be upgraded next.


While the light armor and command elements of the Iraqi Army’s armored structure are firming up, much remains to be purchased, trained on, and integrated.  The APCs existing and en route combined with the training, point to where the IA wishes to be at the end of Phase 2 upgrades in 2015 but, major components are still missing and need to be ordered.  The 4 remaining to be identified Ukrainian orders [$1.85 billion] will probably fill many of those gaps – but not all.


Related articles:

October 16, 2009:  Iraqi Army Going Modular  

March 20, 2010:  Iraqi Total Force Mobilization Update: March 2010 

June 27, 2010:  Used US Equipment Transferring to Iraqi Army  

July 11, 2010:  Speculation on Iraqi Army Armor Forces by 2014  

Updated Monthly:  Iraqi Order of Battle 



Link to larger map. 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during July 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 July 2010.


During July, 2 articles extrapolating future Iraqi Army Armor Forces were written:  The 1st [more conservative]Speculation on Iraqi Army Armor Forces by 2014” and the far more speculative “SWAG on Iraqi Armor Distribution”.  An article breaking down the Iraqi Army Air Corps split from Iraqi Air Force was also published and the details will not be addressed in this update.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Iraqi Request for 18 new Block 52 F16s; first 10 fighter pilots go to US for training.
  • 11 M1A1s to arrive in August; 60 HETS ordered; Ukrainian BTR4 to start arriving in October; 1st AN-32 to deliver in September.
  • Peshmerga battalion identified.
  • Army Air Corps re-formed; future M1A1-equipped battalion identified.
  • 1st group of Iraqi Navy Patrol Boat students graduate; Iraqi Marines take over Bucca.
  • Ministry of Interior moving to purchase 1st helicopters.


Arms Deliveries and Purchases


As part of the program to sell 18 F16 Block 52 fighters to Iraq, Iraq has signed an agreement with the United States for the training of 10 Iraqi Air Force pilots. At graduation, these pilots will have completed the training necessary to move on to F-16 flying training. The training for each student will last from 12 to 17 months depending on the experience level of the pilot.  According to Marco Dijkshoor, Dutch Aviation Society/Scramble Magazine, "On the F-16 front I am getting quite firm reports that the first 10 IqAF pilots will be trained from August onwards on Sheppard AFB (TX) and that 18 Block 52 with limited weaponry have been ordered, prone for delivery between 2012-2013."


According to Lieutenant Colonel Martin Downie, US Army, Public Affairs Chief, USF-I J9 PAO:"The first 11 of the 140 M1s that Iraq has purchased are expected to arrive in August. The entire 140 will be delivered in monthly batches over the following year. The M1s here now were not purchased but are being used for training only."  This indicates that the first 140 M1A1s will be delivered by the fall of 2011 however; the official statements continue to include a fudge-factor and state “by December 2011.”


A contract for 60 Iraqi heavy equipment transporter systems (HETS) and associated ancillary items has been awarded. The HETS are M1070A0 tractors and the Fontaine 635NL trailers. The associated ancillary items include 6,240 spare tires; Iraqi HETS spare parts; non-standard trailer manuals; and IHETS operator training.  This is part of the deal providing over 1,000 M113s to Iraq during 2011-2013.


The Ukrainian purchase is progressing.  The delivery of the 1st An-32 Transport for Iraq is scheduled tentatively for September 2010.  The first batch of BTR-4s is to deliver in October 2010.  The Ukrainian manufacture has apparently had delays in subcontractor delivery of engines for the BTR-4 APCs.   Further data breaking down the types of BTR-4 variants in this order were also reported however, the numbers for the types reported suggest erroneous reporting.  There are too many command and staff variants and too few repair and recovery vehicles in the mix.  To date, I have been unable to confirm this report and suspect the numbers should read:

*   270 line of armored personnel carriers,

*   80 of repair and recovery [vice “command”],

*   30 command [vice “staff"],

*   30 medical, and

*   10 staff [vice “repair and recovery”].

This unconfirmed corrected mix would fit for:

3 light mechanized brigades and a training/maintenance battalion float or

for the APC, support, and command elements of a mechanized division plus a training/maintenance battalion float.




The  2-12 Peshmerga Battalion was reported conducting joint ops in the Irbil disputed area.  This is a first report of this battalion and its parent 12th Peshmerga Brigade.  This unit is estimated to be part of the un-commissioned 15th Mountain Division.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army recently took control of their military's helicopter assets from the Iraqi Air Force.  This action re-establishes the Iraqi Army Air Corps.


Elements of the M113-equipped 4-35/9 Mechanized Reconnaissance Battalion were reported receiving M1A1 refresher training. This is the 3rd of 4 planned M1A1-equipped battalions identified to receive the 1st 140 M1A1 tanks.  The battalions identified are the 5-36/9, 4-36/9, and now the 4-35/9.  All have been reported employing M113 APCs.  The 56th Brigade has also been reported training on M113s and is probably also receiving M1A1s.


Iraqi Navy


The 1st group of 50 Iraqi Navy sailors received training at the Swiftships Shipbuilding facility in Morgan City, La and graduated 15 July.  The Iraqi naval students spent 90 days at Morgan City training to operate, maintain and deploy 15-man patrol boats.  The 1st 2 of 15 ordered PBs are to deliver this month.


Interestingly, Bucca was transferred from the US Forces to the Iraqi Marine detachment.  This base is large enough to house a brigade.  The Iraqi Marines may be preparing to expand and form a new battalion or even a 2nd brigade.


Ministry of Interior


The Iraqi Ministry of Interior plans to form its own Air Force.  15 Scout helicopters are reportedly being ordered.  On 19 November 2009, a US Foreign Material Sales announcement that MoI intended to buy 15 Scout and 10 Utility helicopters and listed 3 possible types for each.  This planned Police Aviation Force is apparently progressing to contracting, however the types picked were not specified in the report.  The original FMS notice indicated the choices were:

  • 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 helicopters.


Photo by Sergeant 1st Class Jeff Troth, 21 July 2010.


“The Iraqi Army, which recently took control of their military's rotary-wing assets from the Iraqi Air Force, uses the Huey primarily as a scout and reconnaissance aircraft.”  With this sentence, the announcement of the formation of the Iraqi Army Air Corps was made by Specialist Roland Hale, a journalist for the 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade.


While there are limited details concerning this reorganization, the known structure of the Iraqi Air Force makes sorting out which squadrons are now Army Air Corps simple.  The subordination of the air bases, training establishment, and the future air defense brigade are less clear and may be under joint or separate command in several cases.


Iraqi Army Air Corps


The existing, forming, and planned AAC squadrons indicate a forming structure of 4 aviation brigades and a training squadron.  This fits the support aviation structure for the planned 4 Iraqi Army Corps.  This is a work in progress and all new helicopter squadrons will be formed at Taji first and then assigned as needed.


Taji Regional Air Base is the primary helicopter base.  Taji is the home of several Iraqi Army schools.  It is also the home of the Iraqi Air Force’s Technical Training Wing and the Sector Operations Center for Central Iraq.  This base will probably be a joint command with the Iraqi Army in the lead.  The Technical Training Wing will probably remain under the Iraqi Air Force.  The squadrons existing or forming at Taji are all helicopter squadrons:

  • 12th Flight Training Squadron - while elements are located at Kirkuk, this squadron has been operating split between Taji/Kirkuk and is the principle helicopter training squadron.  Currently equipped with 10 OH-58C (US loan) and 10 Jet Rangers.
  • 2nd Utility/Scout Squadron – is equipped with 16 Huey II helicopters.  This squadron has had some confusing reporting over the last year indicating it was a training squadron.  It is likely that aircrew for the planned Recon/Lt Attack helicopter squadrons have been receiving advanced training in scout helicopter operations and the use of night-vision goggles in this squadron.
  • 4th Transport Squadron – is equipped with MI-17 helicopters and operates detachments in Habbenayah and Basrah. This squadron is equipped with the oldest MI-17s and also operates the VIP helicopters.
  • 15th Air Assault Squadron – is equipped with MI-17v5 and was formed for dedicated Iraqi Special Operation Force support.  There are indications that this squadron has been retasked.
  • 21st Armed Reconnaissance Squadron – is forming at Taji.  This squadron is to be equipped with Armed Bell-407 helicopters to be delivered by 30 August 2011.   
  • 88th Attack Squadron – is forming at Taji.  This squadron is being equipped with used SA-342 helicopters from the French Army.  Delivery of initial helicopters reported in February 2010. 
  • ? Attack Squadron – is forming at Taji. This squadron is being equipped with new EC-635 helicopters with delivery to be complete in 2011.   Delivery of initial 2 helicopters reported in May 2010.
  • ? Air Assault Squadron – is planned to be equipped with MI-17CTs ordered to be delivered in August 2010.


Basrah Regional Air Base operates a detachment of MI-17s.  The Iraqi Air Force’s 70th Reconnaissance Squadron recently transferred Ali AB, leaving only helicopters operating here.  This base shares Basrah International Airport and military operations are planned to move to Shuaibah AB this year.


Habbenayah Regional Air Base operates a detachment of MI-17s.


Kut Regional Air Base plans to base MI-17s and is to support a ground-link for reconnaissance aircraft.


Planned Army Air Corps Squadrons:

  • 2x Transport/Air Assault Squadron - planned.  There are at least 5 squadrons of MI-17 aircrew trained but only 2 operational squadrons with a 3rd forming.  At least 2 more squadrons are planned.
  • 1x Armed Recon Squadron – planned.  The initial order for Armed Bell-407s includes an option for 26 more.  If executed, delivery is planned by October 2012.
  • 2x Attack Squadrons – planned.  Both orders for used SA-342s and new EC-635s included options for additional aircraft to form additional squadrons.  Delivery prior to 2015, if the options are executed.


In addition to the known squadrons [existing, forming, or planned] there are 10 AAC/IqAF squadrons planned where the type has not been identified.  The AAC is likely to get 4 of those squadrons and they are likely to be heavy attack helicopters such as the Apache.


This is a SWAG but, the SA-342s, EC-635s, and Bell-407s all fit for employment in the armed reconnaissance [Scout]  role similar to what the UH- 1 Hueys of 2nd Squadron have been performing.  The Iraqi Army plans to have 4 Corps: 3 Frontal Corps and a Central Reserve Corps.  That could mean that the plan is for the AAC to be organized into:

  • 3 Frontal Corps Aviation Brigades with 2 light attack/recon squadrons and 1 Mi-17 equipped air assault squadron plus a future planned heavy attack squadron [Apache?].  Basrah, Kut, and Habbenayah are the probable planned headquarters bases.
  • 1 Reserve Corps Aviation Brigade with 2 Mi-17 equipped air assault squadrons and 1 Huey equipped utility/recon squadron plus a future planned heavy attack squadron [Apache?].  Headquarters at Taji.
  • 12th Training Squadron probably administratively attached to the Reserve Corps.


Iraqi Air Force (IqAF)


The Iraqi Air Force structure is also fairly clear with the exceptions of the possible joint or separate commands.


Air Technical Training Wing at Taji will probably continue as a joint IqAF lead training command.  However, some of the IqAF specific training will probably move to Tikrit.


Ali (Tallil) Regional Air Base is the location of the Southern Sector Operational Command and a probable future fighter base.

  • 70th Reconnaissance Squadron – relocated to Ali (Tallil) this year.  Equipped with  CH2000 and SBL-360 aircraft, this squadron provides reconnaissance support to southern Iraq.


New Al Muthanna Regional Air Base (BIAP) is the base for the IqAF’s Transport Wing.

  • 23rd Transport Squadron – is equipped with 3 C-130E and is to take delivery of 4 C-130J-30 in 2010/11 and 2 more C-130J-30 in 2012.
  • 87th Reconnaissance Squadron – is equipped with King Air 350 ISR and Light Transport Aircraft.  While primarily used as a reconnaissance squadron, the 87th also provides light transport services.


Tikrit Regional Air Base is the new IqAF training base.  Elements from Rustimayah, Kirkuk and Taji have been and continue to relocate here.

  • Air Academy – The first classes started in mid-2010.  This is the IqAF’s officer academy.  Previously the IqAF officer training was performed at the Military Academy at Rustimayah.
  • Iraqi Air Force College - The first courses started in January 2010. Eventually 1,500 students are planned.  This is the ground school for IqAF aircrew.
Flight Training Wing
  • 1st Flight Training Squadron – Currently located at Kirkuk but planned to relocated to Tikrit this year.  Equipped with Cessna C172s, this squadron provides basic flight training.
  • ? Training Squadron – Iraq ordered 20 Lasta-95 intermediate trainers and 9 have been reported delivered.  All are to be delivered by the end of 2010.  However, none of these aircraft have been reported in Iraq.  This indicates the squadron is training in Serbia.
  • ? Training Squadron – with the arrival of the first T-6A Advanced Trainers this undesignated squadron of the Flight Training Wing started forming.  Currently equipped with 8 T-6A, 7 more T-6As are expected by the end of 2010.


Kirkuk Regional Air Base (Kirkuk IAP) was the IqAF Flight Training Base but, that function is relocating to Tikrit.  Kirkuk is also home to the Northern Sector Operational Command and will probably be a fighter base.

  • 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron – is equipped with Cessna RC-/AC-/C-208 Caravan ISR, armed ISR, and Light Transport Aircraft.  Provides reconnaissance support for northern Iraq.


Al Asad Regional Air Base is the location of the Western Sector Operational Command and probably a planned fighter base.


Balad Regional Air Base is planned to be a main operating base indicating it is to be a fighter base.


Q-West Regional Air Base.  The new commander of the base indicated that F16s and new helicopters are to be based here.  Indicates this recently turned over base is to support IqAF and AAC assets. 


Planned Iraqi Air Force:

  • 1x Transport Squadron – is planned.  10 AN-32s have been ordered from the Ukraine with the 1st to deliver this fall.  Possible 2 squadrons of these aircraft planned.  Probably be based at New Al Muthanna.
  • 5x Fighter Squadrons - planned to start forming in 2012.  The first 18 F16 Block 52 aircraft are to deliver in 2013.  Initial pilot training in the US is to start in August 2010.  IqAF Chief of Staff has stated he wants 96 F16C/D by 2020 to provide a capacity for basic air defense.
  • 1x Reconnaissance Squadron - was planned and may be only postponed.  36 AT-6B light attack trainers were planned to be incorporated with the 3 existing reconnaissance squadrons and forming an additional squadron.   
  • 1x (Jet) Training Squadron – planned.  Procurement competition for 24 T-50, Hawk, or Maki 346 Jet Trainers has been announced.  The Korean T-50 Jet Trainer will probably win and this squadron will be based at Tikrit.


In addition to the known squadrons [existing, forming, or planned] there are 10 AAC/IqAF squadrons planned where the type has not been identified.  The IqAF is likely to get 6 of these squadrons.  They are probably 1 more AN-32 transport squadron and 5 additional fighter squadrons [Rafale?].  Iraqi Ministry of Defense has made it clear that they do not intend to be dependent on any 1 country.  So they will split their fighter force between 2 countries and France appears to have the inside track. This purchase will probably be post Phase 3 [2016-2020] due to budget; however, the purchases could happen in parallel with the F16 buys if the budget improves.


Joint or Separate Commands?


As mentioned above, at least Taji and Q-West will probably be joint operations with Taji under Iraqi Army lead and Q-West under IqAF lead.  Since it makes no sense to duplicate the training establishments, much of the aviation technical training will also be joint and probably placed under the Iraqi JFC’s Training and Doctrine Command.  The other schools at Taji are already under ITDC/ Tactical Training Command.  The Sector Operational Command at Taji will remain under the IqAF.


By 2012 an Air Defense Brigade is planned to be formed.  No further details are available.  This brigade may be an IA, IqAF, joint, or independent command.  This is not expected to be a combat command, just the basic ability to track aircraft in Iraqi airspace.  The first planned Iraqi air defense COMBAT capacity does not start to arrive until 2013 and will not be a credible force until 2020 – as planned by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.


The Iraqi Air Services continue to develop and mature however, approximately 10 of the planned IqAF/AAC squadrons will still be “planned” in 2020.  Until 2020, Iraq will not have key capabilities such as a credible air defense.  This has been part of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s 3 phase plan since 2006.  The Iraqi Ministry of Interior has not yet formed its helicopter equipped Police Air Force.  The first orders for those 12 utility and 15 scout helicopters have not been finalized.  The KRG is reported to have an observation helicopter squadron.  The 2012 US withdraw date was picked by the politicians, not the Iraqi Security Forces.


DISCLAIMER:  What follows, while based on known Iraqi armor orders, is an extrapolation.  A prediction based on incomplete data.  If 60 percent turns out correct, it will be considered good.  The speculation article on Iraqi Armor orders only projected to 2014 and did not specify which divisions would be upgraded beyond the known.  This article projects to 2020 and includes a possible sequence of division upgrades.


The Iraqi Army appears to be adopting the US Army’s modular heavy brigade combat team (HBCT) structure with modifications.  Tank companies are only 11 tanks vice 14; In place of Bradley ICV/CFVs, they are using M-113s, BMP-1s, or BTR-4s; The brigade field artillery is only 1 battery of howitzers supported by 3 batteries of 120mm mortars; and trucks are being used for resupply vehicles vice M-113s.


US Armor Equipped Divisions


While the number of M1A1s currently ordered/optioned for [280] are only enough to equip the 9th Mechanized Division and 56th Mechanized Brigade, the number of M-113s [1026] being provided indicate 3 divisions plus a brigade are to be US equipped.  Coincidently, 3 Iraqi divisions and a brigade already have some M-113s [283] or have been training in M113s.  [I don’t believe in coincidence.] Those units are:

  • 56th [Baghdad] Brigade had 135 personnel trained as M-113A3 crew earlier this year.  That works out to slightly more than 7 companies to be equipped with M-113s.  Line elements of a US HBCT include 7 mechanized/mechanized reconnaissance (cavalry) companies and 4 tank companies. 
  • 9th Mechanized Division is known to be upgrading to M1A1 tanks and already has 2 mechanized reconnaissance battalions (6 companies) equipped with M113s.  Besmaya Combat Range is in their area and the division provides augment personnel for the Armor and Mechanized Schools.
  • 5th Division has a battalion equipped with M-113s and is located adjacent to Besmaya Combat Range where the Armor and Mechanized Schools are located.
  • 3rd Division has a battalion equipped with M-113s and is planned to swap areas, relocating to an area near Besmaya.


Also coincidently, the US plans to focus training on only 3 Iraqi Army divisions over the next years.


Factoring in delivery, production times, and budgets, the Iraqis will probably purchase a total of 700 M1A1 tanks in 5 total orders by 2020.  The first order of 140 M1A1s has started shipping this month and is to complete delivery in 2011.  The option for another 140 M1A1s, when exercised, delivers by the end of 2013.  Three more orders of 140 M1A1s each with deliveries completing in 2015, 2017, and 2019 would provide the tanks for the 5th Division and then the 3rd Division.  After each of these divisions are upgraded, 2 of the divisions will rotate to 2 of the 6 Iranian/Syrian border provinces [not including KRG] starting with Basrah.  5th Division is reported to be planning to rotate areas with 14th Division in Basrah.


Ukrainian Armor Equipped Divisions


The order of BTR-4 variants from the Ukraine is a partial order, only the 1st [550 million] of 5 annual orders totaling 2.4 billion dollars of equipment.  The initial deliveries of this first order starts to arrive in September and completes delivery in 2013. 


The number of command [80] and staff [30] vehicles ordered indicates a minimum of 2 divisions to be upgraded.  The number of line vehicles [270] fits for only 1 division of mechanized based on the US HBCT structure.  The number of repair vehicles [10] is insufficient.  The lack of fire support vehicles and tanks, insufficient support vehicles, plus the excessive number of command vehicles make this a partial order for at least 2 mechanized divisions.  The next annual order will probably be for tanks, followed by more line/support vehicles, followed by more tanks, and then the still missing components.  It requires approximately 400 tanks for the 2 divisions and a training element/maintenance float.  The best candidates for upgrade are:

  • 17th Division has been training at Besmaya in infantry operating from Bradleys.  The Bradley has a rear-ramp access like the BTR-4 and the M-113.  The BTR-4 with a Grom turret is comparable to a wheeled version of the Bradley.
  • 1st Division has 3 wheeled APC equipped battalions and is part of the strategic reserve Quick Intervention Corps.  These factors make 1st Division the likely second division to be upgraded in Phase 2.


Those are probably just the Iraqi Ministry of Defense Phase 2 [2011-2015] orders, to be followed by another set of Ukrainian armor orders in Phase 3 [2016-2020] upgrading 2 more divisions:

  • 11th Division already has a battalion of MTLBs and another with BMP-1s.  After a further partial upgrade with old armor from the 9th Division in the next 2 years, the 11th Division will probably upgrade with Ukrainian armor in Phase 3.  The remaining serviceable T-72s/BMP-1s will probably be consolidated into 19th Division and a training element at Besmaya during that upgrade.
  • 7th Division already has 2 battalions of BMP1s.  After a further partial upgrade with old armor from the 9th Division in the next 2 years, the 7th Division will probably upgrade with Ukrainian armor in Phase 3.  The serviceable T-72s/BMP-1s will probably be consolidated into 19th Division during that upgrade.
  • 19th Division is to be formed by splitting 8th Division.  The training of personnel in maintaining BMP-1s indicate that the 19th Division will be initially partially upgraded using old armor from 9th Mechanized Division.  The 19th Division will probably end up with all of the remaining serviceable Soviet-origin armor by 2020.


Which type of tank is to be ordered from Ukraine is not known.  The Ukrainian’s have stated that they hope to sell Iraq the Oplot tank but, used T-72s or the Yatagan tanks are also possibilities for the approximately 800 tanks needed for the 4 divisions and the training element.


For the fire support to go with the BTR-4s, MOP-4K Fire Support Vehicles will probably replace the M-113 120mm mortar carriers in the Ukrainian equipped divisions.  That would mean 72 MOP-4Ks per division or a total of about 300 for the 4 upgraded divisions and a training element.


The 8 mechanized divisions in 2020 are planned to be stationed in the 6 border provinces of Ninawa, Anbar, Diyala, Wassit, Maysan, and Basrah with 2 in the strategic reserve in Baghdad.


A training brigade will probably be established at Besmaya consisting of a US-equipped battalion, a Ukrainian-equipped battalion, an old Soviet-equipped battalion, and a mixed brigade support battalion.  By 2020, the oldest armor [the T-55s, MTLBs, Type 63s, etc] will probably phase out or transfer to the training establishment to form an opposition force training brigade.  That would leave the T-72s and BMP-1s consolidated into one division.  


Alternate Possibility for Ukrainian Armor


There is one other possibility concerning the Ukrainian armor.  It is possible that that armor is for the Federal Police and/or Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) instead of the Iraqi Army.  The only reporting of possible tank sales has been from the Ukrainians.  There have been no reports confirming the Ukrainian armor is for the Iraqi Army.  This is not a mutually exclusive option; they could be planning to use this armor for all 3 services.


The Federal Police was reportedly planning to form a light mechanized division in Diwaniyah.  That location indicates regional basing with more than 1 light mechanized division planned.   At least 2, probably 4 is the best estimate.      The Iraqi Special Operations Force has personnel recently trained in BTR-80 maintenance.  This indicates that they are getting the BTR-80 APCs from the 9th Division and possibly some of the BTR-4s ordered.


Only half the 6,000 M-113s in the process of being decommissioned by the US Army have been accounted for.  This means that the Iraqi Army may be planning on acquiring more M-113s for their mechanization program and the BTR-4s could be for the Federal Police and ISOF mechanization programs.


A year from now, with the deliveries of M113s, BTR4s, M1A1s, and the next Ukrainian order announced, the picture will be much clearer.  The current plan appears to be for the Iraqi Army to reach parity with Iran in numbers of tanks and superiority in quality of tanks by 2020 [700 M1A1 plus 1,000 T-72, Oplot and/or Yatagan].  Combined with a quantitative and qualitative superiority in supporting armor and mobility, this would make a credible force to deal with the most likely enemy.


Related Articles:

July 11, 2010:  Speculation on Iraqi Army Armor Forces by 2014

Updated Monthly:  Iraqi Order of Battle



As reported in June 2010, the Iraqi Army is getting significant amounts of used US Army equipment through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process for Excess Defense Articles (EDA).  This equipment includes:

  • 1026 - M113 Family of Vehicles,
  • 120 - M198 towed howitzers,
  • 21 - M88A1 armored recovery vehicles,
  • 60 - M1070s heavy equipment transporters,
  • 24 - M109A5 self propelled howitzers,
  • 30 - Fuel tankers,
  • Equipment for a strategic bridge company.


The BTR-4 order mix has also been clarified and the number of command and staff vehicles in that order indicates at least 2 divisions are planned for this 1st of 5 Ukrainian orders.  Alternatively, these vehicles could be used for Corps’ Troops - providing field headquarters, security and reconnaissance vehicles for the 4-5 planned corps HQs.  This initial order starts delivery in October and is to be completed by 2014:

  • 270 BTR-4 APCs,
  • 80 BTR-4K Command Vehicles,
  • 30 BTR-4Ksh Staff Vehicles,
  • 30 BSEM-4K Ambulances,
  • 10 BREM-4K Repair and Recovery Vehicles.


Combined with existing and ordered armor [E.G. 280 M1A1s], these additions indicates that Iraq plans to have 3 to 5 heavy divisions by 2014.  The variance in this estimate is due to some unanswered questions concerning [but not limited to]:

  • How many more BTR-4s are being ordered?  How many tanks of which type are to be ordered to go with these BTR-4s?  MOP-4K Fire-Support Vehicles?  The existing order indicates 2 divisions are planned as there are too many command and staff vehicles in the mix for 1 division but, only about 7.5 battalions worth of APCs are in this mix and the supporting BREM-4K numbers are less than a brigade’s worth.  This is probably a partial order and/or could be Corps’ HQ/ Recon troops. 
  • Is the organization of the Iraqi armored battalions shifting to a 2x2 mix of tank and mechanized companies?  This would make for weaker armored battalions in terms of tank fire-power but, improves the mix of mechanized infantry support.  The current US structure is the 2x2 combined arms battalion structure vice the traditional 3x1 mix and the Iraqi Army is using a modified US structure as its basis. 
  • Which Iraqi formations are getting this armor?  In what order?  There are more identified candidate divisions/brigades for mechanized or armored upgrade that there is armor ordered/existing.  Is the IA spreading the armor or keeping it concentrated?  Or a mix?  Keeping the armor concentrated around Baghdad or dispersing the armor in border divisions?


The best (g)estimate is that the Iraqi Army is going to upgrade to 3-4 heavy divisions and plus the 56th Brigade to mechanized/armored forming a heavy reaction corps in the Baghdad area by 2014.  A 4th or 5th heavy division will probably be starting conversion in 2014 and by then the border divisions will start rotating in for upgrade.  Since the Armor and Mechanized Schools are in Baghdad province, the lead candidates for initial upgrade are in the Baghdad area or planned to rotate to Baghdad.  Additionally, the formations that already have some armor or have been receiving armor training are the most likely to be upgraded:

  • 9th Mechanized Division in north Baghdad is being upgraded with M1A1 tanks and is turning over its Soviet-designed armor to other forces.  It may be upgrading to an armored division.
  • 56th Brigade personnel have been trained as M113 crew indicating this brigade is in the process of converting to armor, mechanized, or combined arms.  Administratively the 56th Brigade is assigned to the 6th Division; however, it is actually an independent brigade directly under the office of the Commander-in-Chief and is responsible for guarding the International Zone in Baghdad.
  • 11th Division in eastern Baghdad has 1 BMP1-equipped battalion [3-44/11] and 1 MTLB-equipped battalion [1-42/11].  This makes the 11 Division a prime candidate for upgrade to mechanized since 2 different brigades in the division already have a battalion of mechanized.
  • 17th Division in southern Baghdad recently conducted an exercise in which its infantry was photographed deploying from Bradley APCs.  The 17th Division has been regularly augmented by 9th Division armor and this could mean they are training preparatory to receiving APCs that have a similar rear-ramp type access [M113 or BTR4].
  • 1st Division in eastern Anbar is equipped with at least 3 battalions of wheeled armored cars and APCs, primarily in 3rd Brigade.  This division operates as part of the Iraqi Army Strategic Reserve Quick Reaction Force.  An upgrade to mechanized or light mechanized [BTR4s] would be in keeping with its tasking.
  • Iraqi Special Operations Force personnel have been trained in maintaining BTR80-type vehicles indicating they are getting the BTR80s from the 37/9 Brigade and possibly some of the BTR4s from the Ukraine.  The ISOF Regional Commando Battalions are expected to fill the role of Corps’ reconnaissance brigades.
  • 7th Division’s 29th Brigade in western Anbar has 2 BMP1 equipped battalions [1-29/7 and 2-29/7].  This indicates the 29 Brigade is planned to be an armor brigade and the division a candidate for upgrade.  Also of note, one of the 3 tracked vehicle maintenance facilities in the Iraqi Army is co-located with the 7th Division’s maintenance units.
  • 3rd Division’s 10th Brigade in western Ninawa has 1 battalion equipped with M113s.  This makes this brigade and the division a candidate for upgrade. 
  • 5th Division’s 20th Brigade in Diyala has 1 battalion [2-20/5] equipped with M113s.  This makes this brigade and the division a candidate for upgrade.
  • 8th Division or the planned 18th/19th Division in Wassit.  The 1-33/8 Battalion has had personnel trained in maintaining BMP1s indicating the battalion is receiving them soon.  This makes the battalion and its parent 33rd Brigade candidates for upgrade but, the 8th Division is planned to split and the components being upgraded may be destine for the planned 18th or 19th Divisions.


The known mix of additional howitzers combined with existing salvaged guns supports a minimum of 3 upgraded divisions.  However, this does not include unconfirmed reports of purchases of multiple-rocket launchers from Serbia, other unreported purchases, and possible additional salvaged artillery.  Also, some of the known artillery could be going to non-mechanized divisions.


The announced orders fit for 3 additional heavy division support elements (-) in addition to the existing support elements in 9th Mechanized Division, indicating 4 planned heavy division support components by 2014 with a 5th forming.  However, the number of tanks in this mix is insufficient for 4 heavy divisions, which could indicate that the IA intends to fill out the tank numbers with Ukrainian armor.


With 3-5 heavy divisions, the Iraqi Army will be able to react to a major incursion by 2014, and will start upgrading border divisions in key areas by rotating upgrading divisions to Baghdad and replacing them on the borders with already upgraded divisions in 2015/2016.  At this point, the Iraqi Army appears to be initially forming a heavy mechanized reaction corps, probably based in central/western Iraq by 2015.  This will be followed in Phase 3 [2016-2020] with rotating and mechanizing the key border sectors.



Happy 4th of July. 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during June 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 June 2010.


Highlights in this update include:

  • New Peshmerga Brigade identified; 1st Peshmerga Brigade in Iraqi Army basic.
  • 1st Iraqi M1A1s shipping to Iraq; Used US Equipment Transferring to the Iraqi Army; Iraqi Army airborne training delayed and possibly cancelled; First field artillery officers graduate;  17th Division in live-fire exercise with US armor.
  • French helicopters for Iraqi Naval Support? Iraq negotiating for new F16 block 52 fighters; Plans for an air defense brigade by 2012.




The 43rd Kurdish Regional Guards Brigade has been identified operating in Irbil.  The 1st Kurdish Regional Guards Brigade, formed earlier by consolidating the under strength 9th and 10th Peshmerga Brigades, is reported attending Iraqi Army Basic Training in Kirkuk.  It is probable that the 1st Brigade will be transferred to the Iraqi Army.


Iraqi Army


As reported last month, the Iraqi Army is getting significant amounts of used US Army equipment through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process for Excess Defense Articles (EDA).  This equipment includes:

  • 1026 - M113 Family of Vehicles,
  • 120 - M198 towed howitzers,
  • 21 - M88A1 armored recovery vehicles,  
  • 60 - M1070s heavy equipment transporters,  
  • 24 - M109A5 self propelled howitzers,  
  • 30 - Fuel tankers,  
  • Equipment for a strategic bridge company.


"The first shipment of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks purchased by the Government of Iraq from the U.S. rolled off the production line in Lima, Ohio, this month and is being loaded in Charleston, S.C., onto a ship bound for Iraq.  Eleven M1A1 Abrams tanks, along with an M88A2 recovery vehicle, are scheduled to arrive in Iraq in August. The remaining 129 tanks and seven recovery vehicles will be delivered before December 2011.”  The Iraqi Army plans to upgrade the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division and redistribute the division’s current Soviet armor to other Iraqi formations.  This contracted order of 140 M1A1s includes an option for 140 more M1A1 tanks to be delivered by mid-2013.  Combined with the other Used US Equipment Transferring to Iraqi Army and existing equipment, this indicates that the Iraqi Army plans to have 3 to 5 heavy divisions in 2013.  [Authors note:  Yes, I am working on an speculation article projecting IA Armor in 2014.]


In response to an inquiry as to the status of the planned airborne training of Iraqi Army, Captain JP Rebello, US Division-Center Public Affairs Operations Officer stated:   “Due to operational requirements, this joint exercise had to be postponed to a later date to be determined. We continue to work closely with our Iraqi partners and look forward to the opportunity to conduct this event in the future.”   The US 1/82 Airborne Brigade [AAB] is turning over to the 4/3 BCT/AAB during June which means this training may be cancelled.


The first class of 120 Iraqi Army field artillery officers graduated from a 152-day course on 6 June.  The recent announced planned deliveries of howitzers indicate heavy artillery is becoming a major priority.


The 17th Division was involved in a live-fire exercise with the US 1/3 Advisory and Assist Brigade at Besmaya range in June.  Of interest, some of the photos from this exercise showed Iraqi Army 17th Division infantry operating from US Bradley armored personnel carriers.  This could indicate that the 17th Division is to receive APCs with rear-ramp style access such as M113s or BTR4s.  This is the first reported training of 17th Division with armor.


Iraqi Air Force and Navy


There is an unconfirmed report of a French helicopter buy for support to the Iraqi Navy.    While the Iraqi Navy and Marines require a squadron of helicopters for support, they are well down the budgetary totem pole.


[H/T Jack Winters] In an interview with Al-Hurrah, the Iraqi Defense Minister mentioned that they were negotiating to buy brand new F-16 Block 52s, which Iraqi pilots had already tested and they want these fighters.  Iraq is waiting for US approval of the deal, and then they will talk specifics and price. The Defense Minister also mentioned that Iraq will have an air defense brigade [NFI] before the US leaves, that the air force will ready by 2020, and the Army Air Corps [helicopter forces] will be 80 percent ready when the US leaves.  The air defense brigade might be refurbished anti-aircraft guns since there is no reporting of surface to air missile purchases.


The US is providing over 900 million dollars worth of used US Army equipment to the Iraqi Army with the Iraqis paying 143 million for their share of refurbishment costs.  The majority of the equipment being transferred is 1,026 M113 variants of vehicles with the remaining 255 items being artillery and support.


As speculated on in August 2008:  “The planned replacement and disposal of 6,000 US M113s will probably facilitate this [Iraqi Army] expansion. M113s are used for mortar carriers, ambulances, tracked logistics, as well as armored personnel carriers and, despite the claims to the contrary, are proven assets in 60 of the world's armies.”  


On 23 June, the Iraqi Minister of Defense mentioned this deal during an interview on Al-Hurrah [H/T: Jack Winters].  In addition to Iraq negotiating to purchase brand new F-16 Block 52s, the Defense Minister is in the US to finalize a deal where “the US Army is giving the Iraqi Army equipment worth 1 Billion, the DM [Defense Minister] said that this equipment will make a big difference, and that from the way he said it, it sounds like heavy equipment.  The US will pick up most of the money needed and the Iraqi defense department will pay (140 million) to refurbish the equipment.”  He also mentioned an air defense brigade to be formed by 2012 [NFI].


Prior to this interview, there had been unconfirmed reports of M109A5 Self-Propelled 155mm Howitzers, M113 FOV [Family of Vehicles], and M198 Towed 155mm Howitzers to be delivered to Iraq during 2011-2013.


In response to a request for information, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Downie, US Army, Public Affairs Chief, US Forces-Iraq (J9) stated:

  • "Through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process for Excess Defense Articles (EDA) the GoI is getting numerous pieces of equipment to help modernize the Iraqi Army. This equipment includes: M113s, M198s, M109A5s, and M88A1s. I've seen nothing on SAMs."


In a follow up, LTC Downie amplified [boldface added]: 

  • “The GoI paid $143M as part of their cost share for the refurbishment for the equipment.  The total value of everything is $900M+.  This is what they are getting:

    Major items:
    1026 - M113s Family of Vehicles
    120 - M198 towed howitzers
    21 - M88A1 armored recovery vehicles

    Additional items:
    Equipment for a strategic bridge company
    60 - M1070s heavy equipment transporters
    24 - M109A5 self propelled howitzers
    30 - Fuel tankers

    This cost share includes refurbishment of these vehicles, basic issue items, ammo, spares, field support reps to assist with maintenance, and training in varying degrees based on the type of equipment.”


This represents some of the major components for mechanizing 2 or 3 Iraqi Army divisions:

  • 27 battalion-equivalents of M113 variants [probably including 120mm mortar carriers, APCs, and command vehicles],
  • 5 battalions [20 batteries] of M198 towed field artillery,
  • 1 battalion [4 batteries] of M109A5 self-propelled field artillery,
  • 3 support battalions [fuel tankers, M1070s, M88A1s], and
  • 1 strategic bridging company.


The Iraqi Army is probably mechanizing 2-3 divisions at a rate of 1 division each year from 2011 to 2013.  This deal provides for most of the components for those divisions.   The Iraqi plan is probably to form a mechanized reaction corps centered in Baghdad.


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during May 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 May 2010.


A separate article addressing the ISF significant portions of the March 2010 quarterly report “Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq” [released in May] was published during May and will not be addressed here.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Iraqi Army continues to form new battalions; Iraqi Army plans training on Russian, Chinese and US artillery.
  • 1st EC635 arrives at Taji; Air Defense Sector Operations Center groundbreaking; Q-West Air Base to turn over in July and be home to 3 squadrons of “new helicopters and F16s”; USF-I says there is no final agreement on F16s.
  • 1st of 15 Patrol Boats delivered in US; Crews training in Louisiana; 1st 2 PBs will deliver to Iraq in July 2010.
  • Another class of Federal Police Graduate “Carabinarei”; 3rd graduation of Kurdish Zerevani Police from this training; New Emergency Battalion identified in Tal Afar.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army continues to form new units from its overmanned forces.  Prior to the budget crunch in the fall of 2008, all combat units were intentionally overmanned to 120-135 percent.  Since the budget crunch, the IA has been under a hiring freeze and the authorized unit manning has been reduced to 100 percent but, the IA has continued to form new units from the existing over manning.  During May 2010, the 4-27/7 Battalion and the 6-24/6 Battalion were reported for the first time.  The existence of the 6-24/6 Battalion also infers the formation of a 5-24/6 Battalion.  The expansion of 24/6 Brigade to 6 battalions also indicates that a new brigade is being formed by splitting the 24/6.  Standard structure of IA brigades is 3 combat battalions each.


The 14th Mortar Battery was reported training at Lutifiyah.  The report mentioned plans for training on more advanced US, Chinese, and Russian artillery, however, no further details have be forthcoming.


The 10th Division’s maintenance element is now being referred to as “the 10th Field Factory Regiment, 10th Iraqi Army Division." This is the first and only divisional maintenance force called a regiment.  The 10th Division is the only division in the IA with 2 Location Commands [Sustainment Battalions] and 2 Field Factories [Maintenance Battalions].  Many of the divisions are still company strength in their maintenance support.  The 10th Division is expected to be reinforced, split, and form a new division.  Apparently the IA has learned from the formation of the 17th Division that they needed to form the support elements first.  Since most of the divisional support battalions are formed, the commissioning of the new division is probably planned for this fall.


Iraqi Air Force


Groundbreaking on Nasiriyah Air Base Sector Operations Center was reported in May.  It is to be the southernmost of 4 SOCs.  Taji [center], Kirkuk [north], and Al Asad [west] are to be the locations for the other 3 SOCs.


The first Eurocopter EC635 was reported as confirmed active at Taji by Marco Dijkshoorn of Scramble Magazine in May.  Iraq has contracted for 30 with an option for 20 more.  At least 2 had been previously reported being shipped to Iraq.


The Iraqi Air Force is to take custody of Q-West Air Base in July 2010.  According to the new Iraqi Base Commander Colonel Natik, “the Iraqi Air Force plans for COB Q-West to be fully equipped with three squadrons, including new helicopters and multiple F-16 Fighting Falcons by 2011. He also said he plans to improve base security.”  However, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Downie [USF-I PAO] indicates there is no F16 deal yet:  "Mr. Elliott, Although the Iraqi government has asked for information about F16s no final agreements have been made. I would refer you to the U.S. Air Force press desk for any new information on this."  Despite repeated Iraqi claims, the US Military continues to say there is no formal deal or declines comment.


Iraqi Navy


The first of 15 35-meter patrol boats was delivered in Morgan City, Louisiana on 20 May. The P-301 will now be stationed at Swiftships' Training Village where it will remain until the first group of Iraqi sailors complete training in July 2010. The first 2 patrol boats will then be shipped to Iraq.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


The Federal Police graduated 760, including 43 Kurdish Zerevani policemen who completed Carabinieri training at Camp Dublin. This is the third time Arabs and Kurds have participated in this advanced training together.  Unit identifications were not reported.  17 Federal Police battalions have been identified as graduating this course prior to this.


There are indications that the 9th Brigade is returning to the Department of Border Enforcement’s Region IV.  The 9th Brigade and the 11th Brigade had swapped areas in 2009. 


A new emergency battalion has been reported in Tal Afar.  The 2nd Emergency Battalion in Tal Afar was reported in May. 

The unclassified version of the March 2010 quarterly report to CongressMeasuring Stability and Security in Iraq” was placed on-line on 1 May.  This article highlights and summarizes key items concerning the Iraqi Security Forces.  The data cutoff date for this report, unless otherwise stated, is 28 February 2010.  Italics are quotes from the report.  [ ] marks indicate added comments or amplification.  Boldface has been added to highlight key points.


Ministry of Defense          

  • The MoD [Ministry of Defense], with U.S. Government (USG) assistance, is currently on track to achieve its MEC [minimum essential capabilities] objectives to provide oversight of the Iraqi armed forces prior to the U.S. forces redeployment in December 2011, though they will unlikely achieve the required capabilities for external defense, most notably in execution of air sovereignty. Current MoD challenges are in the areas of planning and budgeting, procurement, and information technology.
  • As of February 2010, the MoD remains under the MoF [Ministry of Finance] imposed hiring freeze of 253,000 personnel. According to December 31, 2009, data, which is the most current data USF-I has been able to collect, there were approximately 322,000 approved Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) positions in the MoD against which almost 274,000 personnel were allocated pay.
  • GoI budgetary constraints continue to affect the staffing of enabler combat support and combat service support units. The lack of soldiers entering the training base is forcing Iraqi leaders at all levels to staff enabler units from within their organizations by cross leveling from over-strength units, such as ISR formations and HQ elements. As IA and MoD leadership deal with continued manning and training challenges, the force generation of essential enablers could be adversely affected.  [Prior to the budget crisis, 2nd through 5th IA Divisions were authorized to be manned at 135 percent and the remaining IA combat units were authorized at 120 percent.  That changed with the budget crunch in the fall of 2008 with all units now authorized only 100 percent.  The excess has been the source of the new formed battalions/brigades.]
  • USF-I [US Forces-Iraq] initiated new discussions between the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government] and the GoI to integrate KRG Peshmerga forces into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]. Integrating the Peshmerga forces into the ISF will increase the security partnership between the MoD and KRG, and ultimately increase capability to secure Iraq from internal and external threats.  [I.E. USF-I is still pushing the commissioning of the Kurdish-manned IA 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions.]
  • MoD issued orders are still hand delivered to the General Depot Command in Taji to issue equipment to Iraqi units for Unit Set Fielding. The fear of corruption at the unit leadership level continues to force stringent original documentation and signature requirements thus further exacerbating the extended timeframe to issue supplies and equipment.


Iraqi Army

  • The IA continues to make steady progress.  There are currently 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and six Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) battalions.  [7 more IA battalions formed during this quarter.]
  • According to December 31, 2009, data, which is the most current data USF-I has been able to collect, the IA was manned at approximately 72% of its officers and 50% of its NCOs, with 83% of total MTOE numbers due to being over strength in the enlisted ranks.
  • On February 24, 2010, PM Maliki approved the recall of 6,513 (1,449 officers and 5,064 enlisted) former soldiers into the IA. After reporting to division reception centers located throughout Iraq during late February and March 2010, they will be transported to training centers for 60 days refresher training beginning April 1, 2010, before being integrated into IA units. The IA recently completed a recruiting drive to fill 6,000 positions targeting the northern provinces to fill shortages in the Ninewa Province. This recruiting drive resulted in 5,000 enlisted and 83 officer recruits. The new recruits will be brought onto active duty to begin training in June 2010 after the former IA soldiers mentioned above complete their refresher training.   [4 brigades worth of total personnel but, distributed as replacements.]
  • At the same time, efforts to integrate the Peshmerga into the IA are ongoing, one example being the consolidation of the 9th and 10th Peshmerga Brigades into the 1st Ministry of Peshmerga Brigade on January 31, 2010, as a necessary preliminary step to ISF integration.  [This is a brigade used in US/IA/Peshmerga partnering in Kirkuk.  It was planned to be part of 16th Division.  Most Peshmerga brigades are smaller than IA brigades.  This reorganization is to make them comparable sized forces.]
  • As of February 2010, there are 196 IA combat battalions conducting operations, as well as 20 Iraqi protection battalions and six Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) battalions. The IA continues to make steady progress toward MEC but will not achieve a foundation for defense against external threats before December 2011 because of equipment procurement timelines and subsequent training requirements.  Specifically, equipping, training, and combined arms integration of the M1A1fleet, artillery units, and key mechanized enablers will not be complete.
  • There was an Iraqi delay in signing the sustainment cases; and although the cases have not been signed, they remain funded.   M1A1 fielding will not be complete by December 2011, nor will the fielding of artillery and other key enablers required to set a foundation for defense against external threats.  [To reduce expenditures during the budget crisis, support components were trimmed from the purchases.]
  • Chemical Defense units will begin their Unit Set Fielding in the first quarter of 2010. [The 1st company has formed since the cut-off date of this report.]
  • The Field Artillery School has continued to mature and shifted its location from Besmaya to Abu Ghraib. The school has completed training a new cadre of instructors and will soon be home to soldiers prepared to receive instruction on the 120mm mortar system, which is considered light artillery in the IA. Starting in October 2009, 120mm training through put was accelerated from two batteries per month to five batteries per month.

Iraqi Air Force

  • The IqAF is on the path to achieving MEC by the end of 2011 in all mission categories except airspace control (the key to air sovereignty) and fixed-wing airlift.
  • Following five years developing the foundation for an indigenous air traffic controller (ATC) workforce, in February 2010 the first Iraqis in over 20 years obtained their ATC radar controller licenses and certification. The ICAA now has nine licensed radar controllers, 13 radar controllers working traffic in an on-the-job training program supervised by the Washington Consultant Group, and 28 students in a classroom phase of training. However, the lack of investment, antiquated acquisition and procurement processes, and poor business practices continue to impede the ICAA.
  • In February 2010, the IqAF increased its MTOE from 5,217 to 10,287 authorized personnel. Due to this increase in authorizations and due to under-resourcing from the GoI and MoD, the IqAF is undermanned with 5,005 of the authorized 10,287 personnel positions filled for a 49% manning rate. The capacity of the IqAF schools, including pilot production, is sufficient, but lack of accessions will prevent the IqAF from meetings its goals without external assistance or contractor support. The trend of under-resourcing the IqAF may lead to a gap in desired organic capacity in December 2011.
  • In 2010, Tikrit will become the home of IqAF Officer and Pilot training. The IMAR [Iraqi Milatary Academy Ar Rustamiyah] is moving from Rustamiyah to Tikrit, and Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is moving from Kirkuk to Tikrit.  [Only the air force training is moving; IA officer training will remain at IMAR.]
  • The IqAF currently has 207 qualified pilots (fixed and rotary-wing) with another 99 in the training pipeline, including 20 out of country pilots. The out of country pilots are located in the U.S., UK, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Serbia. There is one student enrolled in the U.S. Aviation Leadership Program with an expected June 2010 graduation date. A total of 39 IqAF pilots graduated in 2009, and 17 more graduated on February 1, 2010. The first rotary-wing instructor pilot course is projected to begin in 2010. The first IqAF T-6 instructor pilot class begins in Tikrit in March 2010.
  • The lack of accessions in 2009 will likely influence the IqAF’s ability to establish an enduring air force by December 2011.  However, a strong push towards the end of 2009 indicated a commitment by the GoI and MoD to prioritize the accessions process. The GoI and MoD must continue to show a genuine commitment to access additional IqAF personnel, or it is unlikely that the IqAF will meet critical personnel strength targets in line with the service’s plan. Of particular interest is the shortage of personnel necessary to provide airspace control. The IqAF does not currently have any International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) licensed controllers against a MEC requirement of 64 located at four bases. The first two controllers are scheduled to be licensed by the end of April 2010. The ICAA has nine licensed radar controllers, 13 radar controllers working traffic in an on-the-job training supervised by the Washington Consultant Group, and 28 students in a classroom phase of training. Also, a severe shortage of mid-career officers continues to be of special interest. Over 50% of pilots and 30% of ground officers will reach retirement age before 2020, and those remaining lack flying experience. These numbers point to a projected shortage of senior IqAF leaders in ten years. In 2009, the MoD indicated an intention to transfer 1,600 personnel from the IA to the IqAF. Of the 1,600 former Iraqi military members evaluated, 1,140 enlisted and 177 officers were transferred to active duty in the IqAF. Finally, the IqAF must identify midcareer officers with potential to serve in the highest ranks and guide them through rigorous professional military development.
  • The IqAF is on the path to achieving MEC by the end of 2011 in all mission categories except airspace control and fixedwing airlift. Specifically, multi-role fighter, long-range radar, and C-130J delivery and fielding will not be complete prior to December 2011. The IqAF’s December 2011 goal is the development of a capability to support ISF COIN [counter-insergency] operations and have an initial air sovereignty capability in place. In 2009, an initial COIN support capability was developing. This capability will continue to develop in 2010, but with current programs, no kinetic response option for air sovereignty will exist by December 2011. Delayed execution of the Iraqi Air Force Service Plan and lack of funding for acquisitions, accessions, and contract logistics support, as well as a gap in sustainment for the current fleet all present obstacles to achieving the capability to support COIN operations and conduct minimal air sovereignty operations by December 2011.
  • To maximize the scarce resources of the IqAF, ITAM-AF is recommending that the Iraqi Air Staff adopt a Main Operating Base/Forward Operating Base (MOB/FOB) strategy of four MOBs (Tikrit, Taji, New Al Muthanna Air Base - NAMAB, and Ali Air Base) and six FOBs (Qaiyara – Q-West, Al Asad, Al Hurriya– Kirkuk, Balad, Al Kut, and Basrah). The MoD and the IqAF accepted this strategy for basing. However, in December 2009, by order of the Minister of Defense, the IqAF added Habbaniyah as a FOB to support the IGFC.  [Still talking about 11 bases, looks like they trimmed Irbil, H2, Suwayrah, and Shaibah from the list.]
  • ISR assets from Basrah will move to Ali Base to establish the first Iraqi presence there in the spring or summer of 2010.  [70th Reconnaissance Squadron]
  • The IqAF will also move into Qaiyara (Q-West) in the spring of 2010.  This will establish a small FOB that will serve as a refueling point for helicopter operations in northern Iraq.  [This is the first mention of a Q-West turnover.]


Iraqi Navy and Marines

  • The IqN is on track to achieve MEC by December 31, 2011, although there are risks to capability if shortfalls in manning, C4ISR, maintenance, and infrastructure are not adequately addressed in coming months. The IqN will assume responsibility for protection of the oil platforms in 2011. However, due to the importance of these oil terminals to the Iraqi economy, a higher level of capability is required. Therefore, USF-I anticipates a requirement for a regional presence that can respond to emergencies as the IqN matures from MEC to a fully capable force. The IqN intends to develop additional capabilities in due course to reduce dependence on the U.S.  [I.E. IqN does not have and has yet to order missile boats and aviation support squadron.  So 5th Fleet will continue to provide cover.] 
  • By USF-I end of mission, the IqN will have the minimum essential capability to defend the critical oil export infrastructure against current security threats. However, the importance of this infrastructure to the Iraqi economy mandates a higher level of capability.  [I.E. A COIN capability, not a capability against external threats.]
  • The IqN fleet is organized into two squadrons: the Patrol Ship/Patrol Boat Squadron; and the Small Boat Squadron. A third, the Auxiliary Squadron, will join the fleet in 2011 when Offshore Support Vessels enter service. The IqN has traditionally suffered from a lack of priority in MoD budgetary allocations. The IqN also suffers from logistics issues and communications difficulties between the HQ in Baghdad and the operational fleet.  [Expect 2-3 more patrol boat squadrons to form as they take delivery of the 15 additional ordered patrol boats.]
  • A December 7, 2009, maritime incident affected ongoing training this quarter.  A Chinese flagged merchant vessel damaged the main jetty, the Patrol Ship INS NASSER, and an AL FAW Patrol Boat, resulting in a period of reduced training due to platform unavailability for repairs.  [IqN only has 4 patrol ships and 5 patrol boats at this time.  This represents a 20 percent reduction in operational vessels.]
  • The Iraqi Marines have received approval to recruit new accessions in the second or third quarter of the calendar year. By the end of the calendar year, the Iraqi Marines should be up to full strength.  [IqM stood-up the initial brigade headquarters elements at the end of 2009.  Given the planned expansion of the port of Al Faw, the IqM will require a minimum of 2 brigades to provide security.]


Iraqi Special Operations Force

  • Under PM [Prime Minister] Directive 61, signed in April 2007, the INCTF [Iraqi National Counter Terrorism Force] is independent of both the MoD and MoI [Ministry of Interior]. The CoR [Council of Representatives], however, has not ratified the CT Law that will establish the CTS [Counter Terrorism Service] as a separate ministry. The proposed CT Law was initially submitted in September 2008. After being returned to the CoM [Council of Ministers], the bill had its first reading before the CoR in July 2009. If approved, the CT Law will formalize a ministerial-level position for the CTS Director and provide appropriations and funding. The CoR’s delay in addressing the CT Law makes the PM’s ability to fund CTS problematic and hinders maintenance and sustainment programs throughout the organization. [Parliament is still delaying the establishment of a 3rd security service.]
  • The INCTF is headed by the CTS and includes the Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC) and two ISOF brigades. The CTC is the operational HQ for combating terrorism in Iraq. The CTC exercises C2 of the two ISOF brigades that execute combat operations. The 1st ISOF Brigade is composed of five battalions: 1st Battalion (Commando); 2nd Battalion (Iraq Counter-Terrorism Force [ICTF]), which is designated the Iraqi CT Force; 3rd Battalion (Support); 4th Battalion (ISWCS), which operates the Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School; and 5th Battalion (RECCE). A Garrison Support Unit (GSU) provides logistical support to the ISOF brigades. On July 1, 2009, the CTS established the 2nd ISOF Brigade HQ to command and control the four Regional Commando Battalions (RCBs). The 6th RCB is located in Basrah. The 7th RCB is located in Mosul. The 8th RCB is located in Diyala. The 9th RCB is located in Al Asad. Each RCB houses a Commando Battalion, a platoon-sized reconnaissance unit, and a Regional Counter-Terrorism Center (RCC). Both the 1st and 2nd ISOF Brigades conduct tactical operations in conjunction with U.S. advisors. These units continue to improve their ability to conduct unilateral operations.  [No mention of the Karkh Area Command Strike Team Battalion in this report.  Details probably remain classified.]
  • Unfortunately, a GoI hiring freeze affecting all ISF prevents INCTF from adding new ISOF soldiers to fully man the ISOF brigades.  Approximately 1,000 graduates of the Assessment and Selection Course are required to man each of the two Brigades fully. These potential ISOF soldiers must be assessed, trained, and equipped before they can be integrated into the force. Growing the force will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.


Ministry of Interior

  • USF-I currently assesses the Federal Police (FP) and Oil Police (OP) to be operationally capable. The Iraqi Police Service (IPS), DBE, and Port of Entry Directorate (PoED) have basic capability and improved technical skills. However, all interior security forces will continue to have gaps in funding; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capability; specialization; and in logistical infrastructure. [MoI services are estimated to be 2 years behind the IA in development.]
  • The MoI eliminated the training backlog of Shurta (non-commissioned, entry-level policemen and women) requiring Basic Recruit Training (BRT) in December 2009. A total of 419,324 Shurta or commissioners have attended BRT, and 16,877 officers have attended officer producing courses at the Police Colleges, for a total of 436,201 police trained.
  • Many MoI subordinate organizations do not have trained medics. To address this issue in part, the MoI converted an unused clinic in Baghdad to a Medical Training Site. The first medic training program at this site began in December 2009. USF-I has partnered with the MoI Surgeon’s Office to significantly increase the number of Combat Life Savers (CLS) within the police ranks. USF-I is also working with the MoI to develop Iraqi CLS trainers to ensure the program is self-sustaining once U.S. forces leave Iraq. The first CLS trainer course was offered in August 2009. To date, this program has trained 20 MoI CLS trainers.  [Lack of medical personnel is a problem throughout Iraq.]


Iraqi Federal Police

  • The 2nd FP Division is currently the only division with an organic Logistics Battalion. The Logistics Battalions organic to the 1st, 3rd, and 4th FP Divisions have not been stood-up.  [Note that the cut-off date of this report is February 2010.  The 1st FP Division's Sustainment Battalion and the Zerevani Division(s) Sustainment Battalion(s) were initially reported in April.]
  • The Iraqi FP capabilities continue to improve with the fielding of remaining 3rd Division units in the northern region, and continued force generation efforts for the 4th Division HQs and units in the southern region. Additionally, the FP will assume three new security force missions (the Central Bank of Iraq, Embassy Protection Force, and the Antiquities and Ruins Security Force) once force generation resumes.  [Most of the additional units in the FP have been formed by nationalizing provincial paramilitary police units.]
  • The FP Commander received approval to transfer personnel from four IPS Emergency Response Units to the FP.  Initial transfers from the Emergency Response Units were assigned to Wasit and Diyala FP battalions. In November 2009, 287 members of the Wasit (Al Kut) unit graduated from FP BRT at Numaniyah Training Center. In January 2010, those 287 personnel joined with 164 Diyala transfers to attend unit training at Camp Dublin. The unit graduated from FP unit training on February 25, 2010.
  • The FP continue to have success in recruiting across most of Iraq’s ethnic and religious sects in each province. A notable exception is in the KRG controlled provinces, which are expected to bring better balance to the ethnic makeup of the force in the future. The FP maintain a large roster of people who want to join their ranks.  The Iraqi people view the FP as a federal force, detached from local influences and corruption.  This perception is due in part to the FP commander’s requirement for FP personnel to move from their hometown region and his record of dismissing or punishing FP personnel who engage in corruption.  [This is a big change in perception from 2007.]
  • The FP’s three-year plan will continue to improve FP capability at the provincial level. The three-year plan will provide a brigade sized FP force in each province, with a regionally based division HQ for C2 of FP brigades and division support battalions providing logistical support. Additionally, the FP HQ is requesting its own budget to be able to conduct operations and sustainment without having to request funding from the MoI. To date, the FP HQ has locations to base the brigade HQs in 14 provinces. Finally, the MoI’s continued support is required to fund new unit equipment and infrastructure improvements, replenish existing unit equipment, and improve unit-basing locations.


Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement/Port of Entry Directorate

  • The DBE is organized into five regions, with 14 brigades and 53 battalions (45 static and 8 mobile). The DBE also has one Coastal Border Guard Battalion located in Basrah under the command of Region 4. Eight DBE battalions are mobile Commando Battalions that are directly under the command of one of the regional commanders. The DBE is currently authorized 45,550 personnel and currently has 40,000 personnel assigned. The MoI envisions this force expanding to more than 60,000 personnel by 2012 in order to accomplish their border security duties effectively.  [20 total brigades by 2012 are probable.]


Iraqi Oil Police Directorate

  • The OP are responsible for protecting oil production infrastructure, including oil fields, pipelines, refineries, convoys, and retail stations, which are located throughout Iraq in both remote and urban areas. The OP organization includes three districts (North, Center, and South) and an HQ element in Baghdad collocated with the MoO. The organization has 47 battalions (43 static and 4 Mobile Emergency Battalions).  [OPD mirrors the structure of the Ministry of Oil’s regional oil companies.  Since a 4th company has been formed, a restructuring to 4 regions is probably in progress.]
  • Due to manpower shortages, the OP currently rely on 14 battalions of the IA to protect oil infrastructure.  Additionally, as new oilfields are developed, the OP will rely on contractors to provide security for these areas. This is already occurring in Wasit Province and may soon occur at the Agil Oilfields in Salah ad Din Province. In December 2009, the OP requested MoI authorization to hire 10,000 new OP personnel. To date, the OP have not received a response to this request.  [Many of the 47 OPD battalions are only company-strength at this point.]


Iraqi Facilities Protection Service

  • The FPS consists of a combination of 17,000 policemen and 77,000 contractors. These contractors are hired using one-year contracts that are reviewed and renewed annually.  Contractors receive salaries from the MoI. The majority of contractors meet MoI hiring criteria. One of the biggest concerns is the FPS’ inability to hire contractors as permanent hires due to MoI budget constraints and an existing hiring freeze.


Details that need to be kept in mind:  This is the unclassified portion of the report.  The data is over 2 months old.  The term “minimum effective capability’ (MEC) means just that - MINIMUM.  The Air Force is lagging well behind the rest of the force development, primarily due to budget issues.  The ISF was not planned to be capable of external security until 2020.   


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during April 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 April 2010.


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during April 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 April 2010.


Separate articles concerning Iraqi Air Force development and speculation on the Ukrainian Arms Sale were published during April and will not be addressed here.  Highlights in this update include:
  • Jet Trainer purchase competition.
  • Planned purchase of 24 new F16s; Probable lend/lease of used F16s.
  • Iron Claw Academy closed; 1st Command Course graduations.
  • Area swap between 48th and 14th Brigades; 48th Brigade now part of 4th Division.
  • IqAF will not be ready until “long after 2011”; probable USAF long term presence.
  • 9th ERF Battalion identified in Diyala.
  • Sustainment Battalions identified in the 1st FP Division and Zerevani FP Division.
  • Iraqi Police riverine forces receive 50 more boats.


Iraqi Purchases


British press reported on a competition for the sale of 24 jet trainers to Iraq.  The 3 contending aircraft are the UK’s BAE Hawk, South Korea’s T-50, and Italy’s Maki 346.  The Italian aircraft is only a prototype and is unproven.  The ongoing financial dispute between Kuwait and Iraq makes the UK aircraft unlikely since the courts in the UK could order a freeze or seizure of Iraqi purchase funds.  This means that Iraq will probably buy a squadron’s worth of jet trainers from South Korea in the near future.  The Iraqi Ministry of Defense has been looking at the Korean T-50 as a possible purchase for over 2 years now.


Iraq has formally requested 24 new F-16s from the US.  Factoring in delivery times, these aircraft will probably not be delivered until 2013/2014.  At the same time, there appears to be a “special deal with the US over the supply of F16 fighter jets,” according to General Nasier A. Abadi, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces.  This indicates that the loan, lease, or donation of used F16s proposed by Secretary of Defense Bill Gates in the fall of 2009 is approved.  According to General Abadi, "70% of the [IMoD procurement] budget will go to Air Force" in the future.


Iraqi Army


The US Army run “Iron Claw Academy” has closed indicating that all further route-clearance training for the Iraqi Army will be performed by the Iraqi Engineering and EOD schools. 


On 11 April, the first graduations from the Battalion and Brigade Command Courses were held.  These new courses are now mandatory for new commanding officers.  The next course starts in June 2010.


The 48th Brigade has relocated from northern Salahadin to Tikrit and the 14th Brigade has started taking over US facilities in the 48th Brigade’s former area of northern Salahadin.  Initial erroneous reporting indicated elements of 48th Brigade [erroneously called 848th Brigade] were in Tikrit for commando training at 4th Division’s training center on 10 April.  On 17 April the 1-14/4 Battalion and the 14th Mortar Battery was reported conducting operations near Sharqat and the 14th Brigade received control of Siniya Base near Baiji from US Forces on 19 April.  Apparently the green 48th Brigade from 12th Division is now assigned to the experienced 4th Division [co-located with division HQ] and the green 12th Division in Kirkuk owns the experienced 15th Brigade from the 4th Division.  This also shifts the divisional boundaries, 4th Division now owns all of Salahadin Province and 12th Division owns Kirkuk Province.


Iraqi Air Force


According to Iraqi Air Force commander, Staff Lt. Gen. Anwer Hamad Amen Ahmed:  "Iraq is a sovereign country but let us be frank, we don't have the combat or jet fighters or intercepting planes or air defense systems." and "We are still far from an air force's full potential. We will need the U.S. long after 2011." Iraqi and American officers are talking about a "long-term partnership" in air operations that would last beyond 2011.  It is probable that a decision not to count USAF personnel at “troops” will be made since it will be at least a decade before the Iraqi Air Force can provide adequate air defense.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


The 9th Emergency Response Force Battalion has been identified in Diyala.  The Ministry of Interior is continuing to retrain and absorb the better half of the provincial police SWAT battalions and is now up to divisional strength.  The ERF is expected to grow to 3 division equivalents as it absorbs the high-end provincial police paramilitary forces.


The 1st report of 1st Federal Police Division's Sustainment Battalion was made in April.  As of 30 November 2009, only the 2nd FP Division had a sustainment battalion.


The Zerevani Police graduated forces in Dohuk that fit the description of a sustainment battalion or the cadre of 2 sustainment battalions for the Zerevani FP Division(s) on 9 April.  30,000 Zerevani Police have transferred to Iraqi Ministry of Interior and are being formed into 2 Federal Police divisions and 1-2 ERF brigades.


The Iraqi Police riverine forces received 50 new boats in Basra and will be distributing those boats throughout the provinces of Iraq. Iraqi Police riverine forces continue to expand throughout Iraq.



One problem keeps appearing in every appraisal of Iraqi Air Force development:  Budget.  The announced Iraqi budget does not support the announced aircraft and other military equipment purchases.  Aircraft, support, and airbase infrastructure are very expensive.  The only way that Iraq is going to have a viable air defense in the near future is if someone gives it to them.


On 8 April 2010, General Nasier A. Abadi, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces made the comments that: 

  • On the building of the Iraqi military forces, the general said the need of today is to build “Air Force” strength as till now most of the budget went to building army which has now “14 divisions.” From now on, “70% of the budget will go to Air Force,” he noted.
  • Although the Iraqi government will need at least “three sources (quotations),” for Air Force procurements, the general explained that there is a “special deal with the U.S. over the supply of F-16 fighter jets,with a plan to partner with F-16 squadrons based in Iraq to “train” Iraqi pilots.


Factoring in delivery and training time, 70 percent of the current Iraqi Ministry of Defense budget would not buy a viable air defense in this decade.  Such a diversion of the budget will also reduce the pace of providing armor and artillery to the Iraqi Army.


That makes the details concerning the “special deal” very important.  Last fall, several senior US officials, including the Secretary of Defense publically commented on the possibility of lending, leasing, or donating used US Air Force fighters to Iraq.


During 2010, the USAF is early retiring 134 F16s and 112 F15s.  As pointed out last fall, the F15s are probably not serviceable.  24 of the F16s are being upgraded and provided to Romania to replace their obsolete Mig-21s.  That leaves up to 110 F16s available for Iraq.  So far, no announcement has been made but, the above quote indicates that some or all of those 110 are going to Iraq.


The partnering plan also indicates that USAF squadrons will not count as “troops” after 2011.  Even if those aircraft and that partnering training starts this year, the fighters for the air defense of Iraq will not be ready prior to 2013 at earliest.  Even then, the Iraqi Air Force plans to be still rebuilding air base support infrastructure.  2012 was never the Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s target date for air defense.


The comment about 3 sources indicates that Iraq is splitting its aircraft purchases between 3 countries.  The Iraqi Ministry of Defense has already ordered aircraft and is taking deliveries from 5 countries:  US, France, Russia, Ukraine, and Serbia.  The Russian aircraft purchases have been exclusively Mi-17 helicopters, the Ukrainian is for AN-32B transports, and the Serbian buy is for Lasta 95 trainers.  The remaining Iraqi aircraft purchases are currently split between the US and France.


Iraq is expected to continue to purchase additional Mi-17s from Russia.  Iraq has 5 squadrons worth of Mi-17 trained aircrew and only 2 equipped and commissioned Mi-17 squadrons with helicopters for a third scheduled to arrive this year.  In 2007, Iraq was reported to have 900 pilots and engineers for the Mi-17 and that was the reason for choosing that airframe as the backbone of the helicopter forces.


This means that the US and France will probably continue to dominate the aircraft sales to Iraq and Russia will continue to be the source of Iraq’s transport helicopters.


There are several errors that have plagued predictions and analysis of the planned Iraqi Air Force.  These include:

  • The perception that it will just be the old forces writ smaller.  The new Iraqi Security Forces are primarily based on US models with NATO influence.  The Iraqi Army and Air Force are organized on US Army lines with some USAF influence. 
  • The Iraqi Air Force’s planned 38 squadrons are not the only aviation force forming in the Iraqi Security Forces.  The second largest Iraqi Security Force forming is the Ministry of Interior’s Federal Police which is based on and trained by the Italian Carabinieri, which includes its own aviation assets.  The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is ordering its own helicopters to support its Federal Police, Emergency Response Force, and Border Guards.  Even the Kurdish Regional Border Guards has an observation helicopter squadron and plans to buy more helicopters.  If the Counter Terrorism Service Law ever passes and the Special Forces become a separate force under a separate Ministry, it is likely the CTS will also have its own aviation.  So far, these separate Air Corps are equipping with helicopters but, fixed-wing assets cannot be excluded in the future and total planned numbers can only be guessed at.
  • That US Army-centric influence affects the size of the planned Iraqi Air Force squadrons.  US Army Aviation Battalions have more aircraft [24-30] than USAF fighter squadrons [18].  The Iraqi Air Force appears to be adopting the larger sized squadrons of the US Army’s aviation.
  • The Iraqi Air Force does not plan to have 38 complete squadrons by 2020.  That is the target Iraqi Air Force end-strength but, they do not expect to reach more than 80 percent of that strength by 2020.  Without considerably larger procurement budgets, that 80 percent goal will not be met.


To project the planned Iraqi Air Force, you need to look at the air support requirements of the other services supported by the IqAF.  The wartime mobilization scheme of the Iraqi Security Forces is based on 10 corps with 43 line divisions and 10 security divisions.  Of those corps, the Kurdish Regional Border Guards Corps and the 3 Federal Police Corps will probably be supported by KRBG and Iraqi MoI aviation.  The Iraqi Air Force is responsible for providing direct support to the 4 Iraqi Army Corps and the 2 Joint Corps.


Iraq does not have the resources to provide an aviation brigade per division like the US Army.  Iraq does have the potential to provide an aviation brigade [group] per corps.  To provide the 6 corps with that direct support requires 18 of the planned 38 squadrons – almost half the air force.

  • 6 planned Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Squadrons with 2 ordered/option.  1 squadron’s worth of new armed Bell 407s has been ordered and there is an option for another.  Delivery starts this year and the 21st Squadron will be the first formed.
  • 6 planned Attack Helicopter Squadrons with 4 ordered/option.  1 squadron’s worth of used former French Army SA342 Gazelles is being delivered and there is an option for another squadron’s worth.  1 squadron’s worth of new EC635s is being delivered and there is an option for another squadron’s worth.  The 88th Squadron is forming at Taji with the initial Gazelles. The first squadron’s worth of EC635s is expected to complete delivery by 2012 with the second squadron’s worth delivered by 2014.
  • 6 planned Transport/Air Assault Squadrons, 2 are operational and a 3rd is on order.  4th Transport Squadron and 15th Air Assault Squadron are equipped with Mi-17s and based at Taji.  Another squadron’s worth of Mi-17s is to be delivered this year.
  • The KRBG Corps will probably have its own separate aviation brigade of 3 squadrons.
  • The Federal Police will probably have 3 separate aviation brigades with 9 squadrons.


The IqAF does not have the assets to provide the army-level wartime commands with an aviation brigade but, they will probably assign a composite squadron to each.  It is possible that 1 or 2 MoI/KRBG squadrons will fill out this component.

  • 3-4 planned Composite Squadrons with 3 partially formed.  3rd Squadron is currently equipped with Cessna 208 Caravan Reconnaissance and Light Transport Aircraft.  70th Squadron is currently equipped with Sama CH-2000 Reconnaissance Aircraft.  87th Squadron is currently equipped with King Air 350 Reconnaissance and Light Transport Aircraft.  A planned order for 36 AT-6B Light Attack Aircraft has been delayed for budget reasons and are probably planned to fill out these squadrons.
  • There are no indications that the other aviation forces are going to buy fixed-wing aircraft but, 1-2 composite/recon squadrons are possible given their force structure and support requirements.


The Iraqi Navy and Marines also will require some aviation support, especially with the planned build up of the Al Faw port facilities and the resulting increased security requirements. 

  • 1 planned Maritime Aviation Support Squadron.  The most likely action will be to equip the 2nd Squadron [currently 16 Hueys] with additional helicopters capable of employing anti-shipping missiles.


The training component is the Flight Training Wing.  At this time this wing is composed of the 1st Training Squadron and the 12th (Rotary) Training Squadron.  Deliveries of additional training aircraft indicate a 4 squadron structure.  In the long-term, 2 of these squadrons will probably convert to Jet trainers and an Operational Conversion Unit.  At this time, the Flight Training Wing is focused at more basic training.

  • 4 planned Training Squadrons with 2 in commission and aircraft deliveries for the remaining 2 in progress.  1st Training Squadron uses Cessna C172s for basic flight training.  12th (Rotary) Training Squadron uses Jet Ranger helicopters for training helicopter pilots.  20 Lasta95s are reported to be in delivery to be complete by the end of year and are expected to be used for intermediate training squadron.  8 of 15 ordered T-6A advanced trainers have been delivered and will also probably form their own squadron when the remainders are delivered later this year.
  • While the Iraqi Ministry of Interior will probably piggy-back on the IqAF for training, it is possible that they will establish their own training squadron.


The Transport Wing is only 3 C-130Es of the 23rd Squadron at this time.  Additional C130Js and AN-32Bs have been ordered.  Based on the lift requirements for 1 airmobile/airborne infantry brigade, this wing is expected to be 3 squadrons.

  • 1 planned Medium Transport Squadron [23rd] partially equipped with 3 C130Es.  6 C130J-30s are on order for delivery by the end of 2012.  More will probably be ordered.
  • 2 planned Light Transport Squadrons.  10 AN-32Bs are on order with delivery by 2015.  More are expected to be ordered.
  • It is possible but, unlikely that Iraqi Ministry of Interior will establish a Transport/VIP Squadron of its own.


The air defense element will probably be based on 4 sectors with 1 F16 equipped fighter squadron per sector initially.  This is minimum required strength and is probably planned to grow to 8 fighter squadrons.  IMoD wants to diversify its equipment to prevent any one country from cutting them off and crippling them.  The remaining 4 planned fighter squadrons will probably come from a country other than the US.

  • 4 planned Fighter Squadrons.  24 new F16s [1 squadron] are in the process of being ordered for delivery by 2014.  Up to 110 used USAF F16s are being loaned, leased, or donated.
  • 4 planned Fighter Squadrons.  Most likely from France as that is the only other country reported negotiating with Iraq for fighter sales.  Other less likely possibilities are UK, Sweden, China, and Russia.
  • One missing component is AWACS.  No matter how good the radar, surface-based systems have a terrain-masking problem in tracking low-altitude aircraft.  There is an unconfirmed report that tethered aerostats might be used to provide this low-altitude coverage.  While that form of coverage is not as flexible as AEW aircraft, it is considerably less expensive.


To summarize, the Iraqi Air Force is building to a planned 38 squadrons but, will not have that force until sometime after 2020.  Most of the army-centric force is dedicated to ground support:

  • Corps Support of 18 IqAF helicopter squadrons, with Iraqi MoI providing an additional 9 squadrons and the Kurdish Regional Border Guards providing 3 additional squadrons.
  • Army Support of 3-4 IqAF mixed reconnaissance, transport, and light attack [Composite] squadrons with Iraqi MoI and KRBG providing an additional 1-2 squadrons.
  • Navy/Marine Support of 1 IqAF helicopter squadron.
  • Training Wing of 4 IqAF squadrons with Iraqi MoI possibly having its own training squadron.
  • Transport Wing of 3 IqAF squadrons with a single-lift capacity of an airmobile/airborne infantry brigade.  Iraqi MoI might have its own Transport/VIP squadron.
  • Air Defense Force of 8 fighter squadrons.


One possible plan, that provides Iraq with a minimum basic air defense by 2015, is for the US to donate up to 110 used F16s.  In parallel, Iraq starts to buy more new F16s with this reported initial order of 24.  [Iraq has a budget problem; they will need to spread the buys out.]  When Iraq has 96 new F16s [4 squadrons], they start to replace the old F16s with fighters from another country.  [Iraq does not want to be dependent on any single country and those used aircraft will be near the end of their life by then.]  This fills the need to diversify the Iraqi Air Force while establishing a viable minimum air defense by 2015 using the older F16s. 


The Iraqi Air Force cannot be ready by 2012, despite political claims.  The partnering plan indicates that USAF squadrons will not be counted as “troops” after 2011.  Even in 2020, the Iraqi Air Force will still be short of the current planned end-strength.


In December 2009, Ukrainian officials announced a 2.5 billion dollar arms sale to Iraq but, only provided limited details of the first 550 million dollars of the sale.  Speculation pieces were written as to where the weapons would be distributed and what the rest of the 1.95 billion would buy.  Then the wait began for more details.  After 4 months, there have been no more details.  Iraq appears to be classifying their arms purchases and the Ukrainians quit talking after their two announcements in December 2009.


The initial speculation was that the follow on orders would focus on other weapons like tanks.  But, there are other factors to consider.

  • The Ukrainian announcements said they “hope” to sell Iraq some Oplot tanks.  In other words, the tanks were not part of any deals then on the table.
  • Iraq has no real credit.  The Government of Iraq tends to break arms purchases into separate deals that they can pay for within their existing annual budget.  550 million is apparently the first of five annual purchases adding up to a total of 2.5 billion.
  • The reports contradicted with one saying 6 and the other saying 10 AN32 transport aircraft were ordered.  That is not enough to fill a squadron.  This means that more AN32s are to be ordered in the follow on contracts.  This makes it likely that the purchase of these aircraft is being spread among all five contracts.
  • The order for 420 BTR4 armored personnel carriers did not provide details on the variant-mix and is too many for just the planned “Strike Team” battalions and too few for the Strike Teams and a brigade per heavy Division.  That indicates that there are more BTR4-varients also being purchased and that this is just the first increment of 5 purchases.


If the initial 550 million dollar order is just the first increment of 5 annual similar-sized buys of AN32 aircraft and BTR4-varients of armored vehicles, then the total planned purchase looks like 40 AN32s [2 squadrons] and 2,100 BTR4-varients [50-70 battalions at 30-42 per battalion].  Factoring in production, delivery, and training time, this would fit for these units being made operational by 2020.


Based on 42 BTR4-varient vehicles per battalion, the purchases are 10 battalions per buy but, neither the Strike Teams or the 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade are organized with battalions that large. 

  • The initial forming Karkh Area Command Strike Team is to have just over 400 personnel.  This means that they are only going to require 30-35 BTR4s in each Strike Team Battalion. 
  • The 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade is the test-bed for the Iraqi Army Light Mechanized [reconnaissance] Brigade structure.  The brigade’s 3 battalions are about 30 BTR80s each [98 total] and a battalion of 35 EE9 90mm-gun armed scout cars.


Those battalion size-structures indicate that each annual purchase is for 12-14 battalions worth [total of 60-70].  Since the BTR80s are being replaced because they are “not heavily enough armed for the role”, this also indicates that the BTR4s ordered will have the Grom turret with its 30mm gun and anti-tank missiles.  The structure of the 37/9 LMB also suggests that part of those orders of BTR4-varient vehicles will be for MOP-4K 120mm-gun armed Fire Support Vehicles, sometimes called Tank Destroyers.


Each of the 10 planned heavy divisions [4 armored/6 mechanized] of the Iraqi Army are planned to have a Light Mechanized Reconnaissance Brigade.  This accounts for half of the 2,100 BTR4-varients ordered or to be ordered. 


One other factor to be considered is that the 10 Operational Commands and Area Commands receiving Strike Team Battalions are the basis of Iraqi Army, Federal Police, and Joint Corps headquarters.  The forming Strike Teams are probably the start of the Corps-subordinate Light Mechanized Reconnaissance Brigades.  Those 10 “Commando” Brigades probably account for the other half of the BTR4-varients ordered or to be ordered.


This is not the only option; Just a very likely probability.  Other options include some or all of the BTR4s going to the planned Federal Police Light Mechanized Division(s) [2-4 planned] or being organized into Iraqi Army Light Mechanized Division(s).   Which service or services were to receive these vehicles was not specified.  If the initial deliveries go to Ministry of Defense, then it is unlikely any will go to Ministry of Interior [and vice-versa].  ISOF and its new Strike Teams are still under Ministry of Defense, since the Counter Terrorism Service Law has not been passed.


The initial BTR4-varients are to start arriving this year.  Indicators to watch for include:

  • Which units are issued with BTR4-varients?
  • Actual number and type of BTR4-varients issued to each battalion/brigade.
  • MOP-4K in which units?  90-120 per 420 or 450-600 total are probably in the order mix based on 37/9’s structure.
  • Grom turrets or other BTR4-variants.


The concept of a Light Mechanized Reconnaissance Brigade or “Commando” Brigade per corps headquarters is not new.  The corps structure in the old Iraqi Army had 2 “commando” brigades each.  They were equipped with BTR60s to fill the role of reconnaissance/quick reaction Force and rear-area security.  US corps’ uses Stryker and Armored Cavalry Regiments [brigades in all but name] for recon/QRF and Military Police Brigades for rear-area security.


It appears that the Iraqi Special Operations Force and Ministry of Interior's Emergency Response Force brigades are going to fill the wartime corps subordinate “commando” brigade role in the new joint structure.  The initial Strike Team Battalions are probably just the start of corps’ subordinate brigades, along with the rest of ISOF’s battalions.  Most of the ISOF battalions are already co-located with the Operational Commands.  Arming them with BTR4-varients would fit their corps’ role as QRF/Recon.  The ERF Brigades will probably fill the wartime Military Police duties [rear-area security] since they are paramilitary police Special Forces.


[As previously explained, Iraqi Forces tend to use the word “commando” where the US Army would use Cavalry or the US Marines would use Reconnaissance.]


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during March 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 March 2010.


Separate articles concerning “US Forces-Iraq after 2012?”, “Iraqi Total Force Mobilization Update”, and “Iraqi Armor Speculation and Update” were published during March and will not be addressed here.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Peshmerga numbers and newly identified brigade.  Air mobile training for the Peshmerga.
  • Possible radio purchase.  Stryker purchase cancelled or delayed?
  • Contract for 2 Offshore Support Vessels awarded.
  • New Operational Command and re-designated Military Operational Command.
  • 6th Division Headquarters shifting to facilitate new female training center.
  • First report of howitzer training outside of 9th Mechanized Division.
  • New squadron identified.
  • 2 Kurdish Emergency Response Battalions added to Emergency Response Force.
  • New DBE “Commando” Battalion in Wassit.
  • Kirkuk Emergency Police splits into 2 brigades.



During the early elections for Iraqi Security Forces, 58,000 Peshmerga participated in elections.  These are personnel that are under the command of the Kurdish Regional Government and do not include Kurdish personnel under Iraqi Ministry of Interior or Iraqi Ministry of Defense command.  Kurdish participation was approximately 90 percent which means the reorganizing Kurdish Regional Border Guards is 58,000 to 64,000 personnel.


Another “Peshmerga” brigade has been identified in Kirkuk, however, this 2nd Brigade is probably part of the Iraqi Army subordinate and not-yet commissioned 16th Mountain Division.  This is only the 4th Peshmerga brigade identified.  The 16th Mountain Division is estimated to include the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Peshmerga Brigades in Kirkuk/Salahadin and the 34th Peshmerga Brigade in north Diyala.


US Army elements have been training “members of the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga” in “air mobile tasks, such as providing perimeter and landing zone security, loading and unloading aircraft, movement formations and detainee operations."   While the reporting refers to these forces as Peshmerga, it is probably elements of the Iraqi Army subordinate and not-yet commissioned 15th Mountain Division.


Iraqi Purchases


A US Foreign Material Sales notice of a possible sale of radios indicates the probable equipping of a new Iraqi division.  The equipment to be ordered includes:

  • (300) 50-watt Very High Frequency (VHF) Base Station radios,
  • (230) 50-Watt VHF Vehicular Stations,
  • (150) 20-watt High Frequency/Very High Frequency (HF/VHF) Base Station Systems,
  • (50) 20-watt HF/VHF Vehicular Radios,
  • (50) 50-watt Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency (UHF/VHF) Base Stations,
  • (10) 150-watt HF/VHF Vehicular Radio Systems,
  • (10) 150-watt HF Base Station Radio Systems,
  • (30) 20-watt HF Vehicular Mobile Radio Stations,
  • (250) 20-watt HF/VHF Handheld Radio Systems,
  • (300) 50-watt UHF/VHF Vehicular Stations,
  • (10) 150-watt HF/VHF Fixed Base Station Radio Systems,
  • (590) Mobile Communications, Command and Control Center Switches,
  • (4) Mobile Work Shops,
  • High Capacity Line of Sight Communication Systems with Relay Link, generators, accessories, installation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.


A fall 2009 briefing indicates that the order of M1126 Strykers may have been cancelled. An order of 50 M113 armored personnel carriers is listed with the order of 280 M1A1 tanks in this brief.  At least one Iraqi Army brigade that was expected to receive Strykers has been reported training on M113s.  This indicates that the Iraqi Army may have decided to use refurbished M113s with their M1A1 tanks instead of buying the more expensive M1126 Strykers for that role.


A contract has been awarded for the detail, design, and construction of 2 offshore support vessels and associated equipment and services for the Iraqi Navy.  These vessels are expected to be completed by December 2011.  Factoring in transit and training time, these vessels should be operational by mid-2012.

Iraqi Army


A new Operations Center has been formed in southern Iraq.  The Mid-Euphraties Operations Center was formed in Diwaniyah for the elections and appears to be remaining.  "Leaders are now expecting its role to continue even now that the elections are over."  The Operations Centers/Commands are to be the basis of Iraqi Army, Federal Police, and Joint corps headquarters formation.  This indicates that the Mid-Euphrates Sector is receiving additional emphasis and probably additional forces.


The Anbar Operational Command is now being called the “Anbar Military Operations Command.  This indicates that this Operational Command may be in the process of converting to an Iraqi Army Corps headquarters.


While a “Wassit Operations Command” was mentioned in one unconfirmed press report, this command is probably the Provincial Police Command Center and not a new Operational Command.


The Iraqi Army 6th Division appears to be shifting its headquarters from Old Al Muthanna to Forward Operation Base Constitution.  A Joint Operations Center has been established there and this move would facilitate Iraqi Army plans to open a special center for Female Basic Combat Training at Old Al Muthanna in the future.


The 27/7 IA Brigade’s Mortar Battery has been training on US 105mm howitzers.   This is the first reported howitzer training in any unit other than 9th Mechanized Division.  This training indicates that 7th Division will probably be the 2nd division to receive howitzers in the Iraqi Army.


Iraqi Air Force


According to Marco Dijkshoorn of the Dutch Aviation Society/Scramble Magazine, the 21st Squadron at Taji Air Base will be the new squadron formed and equipped with armed Bell 407 helicopters.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


Over a 1,000 “members of the Kurdish Pershmerga special forces graduated from the Zervani training center after finishing 10 weeks of training” on 2 March.  Most press regularly refers to all Kurdish personnel as “Peshmerga” no matter what command they actually belong to.  The 30,000 Zerevani are Peshmerga elements transferred to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior that are being retrained and organized as part of the Iraqi Federal Police and MoI’s Emergency Response Force [Special Forces/SWAT].  This report indicates the Emergency Response Force has added 2 Kurdish Emergency Response Battalions and fits with the previously reported expansion of the Emergency Response Brigade to a multi-brigade structure.  The ERF is expected to absorb the best half of the provincial SWAT forces, expanding into a 2 to 3 division-sized force by 2015.


A new “commando” battalion has been tentatively identified in the Department of Border Enforcement.  The 1st Commando Battalion is located in Wassit.  No brigade designation was provided in this report.  It could be a re-designation of an existing battalion or the start of a new brigade formation.  The DBE has 15 brigades and is planned to grow to 20.  DBE’s Region III is expected to gain 2 of those 5 brigades and is responsible for the Diyala/Wassit provinces’ Iranian border.


Press reporting of Kirkuk’s Emergency Police is referring to a "Commander of Suburbs Police” or "Commander of Rural Areas Police” named “Brigadier General Sarhad Qadir".  This indicates that the Kirkuk EP has split into 2 brigades, 1 for the city and 1 for the rural areas. 




Very little data has been released concerning the planned distribution of new armor and the redistribution of the old.  Iraqi OPSEC has tightened considerably.  What follows is a speculation piece based on the few details that have been reported.


There are several unconfirmed items that this article is based on.  They are:

  • Reporting of the M1126 Stryker armored personnel carrier (APC) purchase has dried up.  In this October 2009 brief there is no mention of Strykers but, there is mention of the 280 M1A1s and an additional 50 M113A2 APCs.  Those extra 50 M113s, combined with the more than 200 M113s already in the Iraqi inventory, would be enough to replace the Strykers as the partner APC for the M1A1s.  The praetorian 56th Brigade’s training on M113s already had indicated at least a partial replacement of the Stryker order with M113s.  This indicates the Stryker order has been cancelled.  M113s will be used with the M1A1 equipped brigades and battalions.  US Forces-Iraq and Iraqi Ministry of Defense chose not to answer the query as to the status of the M1126 order.
  • Reporting of the 70 NATO/Slovakian T72s that were to be donated to Iraq also dried up.  Those tanks have not been reported in Iraq or delivered.  Which means this tank delivery was also probably cancelled.  US Forces-Iraq, NATO Training Mission-Iraq, and Iraqi Ministry of Defense have also chosen not to answer repeated queries as to their status.
  • Reporting of potential and existing Ukrainian arms purchases died out after the report of 420 BTR-4 APCs and aircraft.  All of that reporting came from Ukrainian sources.  Iraqi MoD appears to have classified their arms purchases.  The existing structure of the BTR80/EE9 equipped 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade, combined with the determination that the BTR80 is under armed for its role, indicate that the BTR-4 variants will include the Grom turreted version and the MOP-4K 120mm gun-armed tank destroyer.  The existing BTR-80s probably are being converted to command vehicles. 
  • The 4 battalions of the 37/9 Light Mechanized Brigade are only equipped with 30-35 primary vehicles each.  Using that structure, there are enough BTR-4 variants ordered, combined with the existing BTR-80s and EE-9s, to fill as many as 18 battalions.  That is enough for an ISOF “Strike Team” battalion per Operational Command and 2 additional brigades. 
  • The 9th Mechanized Division in north Baghdad is upgrading to M1A1s and appears to be retaining M113s while redistributing the older Soviet-origin armor.  However, there are more M1A1 tanks on order than can be accounted for by the 9th Division.  There are signs that the 11th Division in east Baghdad is also mechanizing and the praetorian 56th Brigade in the International Zone appears to be getting M1A1s to go with their M113s. 
  • Most of the older soviet-origin armor appears to be redistributing to provinces bordering Syria and Iran.  6 divisions appear to be getting a mechanized brigade upgrade each.


With the above unconfirmed data factored in, this is what the planned armor distribution appears to be by 2012-2013:


9th Mechanized Division located Taji

  • 34/9 Mechanized Brigade upgrading to M1A1/M113.
  • 35/9 Tank Brigade upgrading to M1A1/M113.
  • 36/9 Mechanized Brigade upgrading to M1A1/M113.
  • 37/9 Lt Mechanized Brigade upgrading to BTR-4 [and probably MOP-4K] with BTR80 used as C2 vehicles
 11th Mechanized Division located in east Baghdad
  • 42/11 Mechanized Brigade upgrading to T72/MTLB/BMP1.
  • 43/11 Tank Brigade upgrading to M1A1/M113.
  • 44/11 Mechanized Brigade upgrading to T72/BMP1.
  • 45/11 Lt Mechanized Brigade upgrading to BTR-4 [and probably MOP-4K] with BTR80 used as C2 vehicles.
 Iraqi Special Operations Force Strike Teams
  • 10 battalions with BTR80/BTR4 mix [and possibly MOP-4K].  1 mechanized commando battalion each supporting Anbar, Ninawa, Samarra, Diyala, Karbala, Mid-Euphrates, Basrah, and [projected] Irbil Operational Commands plus Baghdad’s Rusafa and Karkh Area Commands.  Each of these commands is a wartime corps headquarters and the “Strike Teams” are a part of their planned supporting commando brigades.
 Other Brigades
  • 56th Tank or Combined Arms Brigade upgrading to M1A1/M113.  Baghdad International Zone “praetorian” brigade.
  • 10/3 Mechanized Brigade with T72/BMP1.  Division in western Ninawa but reported moving to Wasit.
  • 20/5 Mechanized Brigade with T72/BMP1.  Division in Diyala but reported moving to Basrah.
  • 29/7 Mechanized Brigade with T55/BMP1.  Division in western Anbar.
  • ?/14 Mechanized Brigade with T72/BMP1.  Division in Basrah but reported moving to Diyala.
  • ?/18 Mechanized Brigade with T72/BMP1.  Division forming in Maysan.
  • ?/19 Mechanized Brigade with T55/BMP1 [built from elements of 33/8 Brigade].  19th Division planned to form by splitting elements from existing 8th Division in Wasit and may then move to western Ninawa.


The Iraqi Army will probably rotate divisions being upgraded with new APCs and tanks to Taji or east Baghdad to facilitate training and reconfiguration.  All of the armor training schools and ranges are located at the adjacent Besmaya Combat Training Center or at Taji.


The brigades getting redistributed old Soviet-origin armor are all part of divisions planned to upgrade to mechanized by 2020.  By 2013, only the 9th Division and possibly the 11th Division will be fully upgraded.


As additional new tanks and APCs are received, the older tanks and APCs will be redistributed to the next division planned to upgrade to provide training vehicles and experience prior to rotating to Taji/east Baghdad for newer armor.  The first divisions to upgrade will be in Baghdad but, that is because of training.  The divisions along the Iranian border will be replaced by divisions already upgraded next, with the Syrian border divisions getting the old armor.  It will take a decade to fully upgrade those 8 divisions to mechanized given the current budgets and delivery pace.


This upgrade will require the purchase of approximately 700 more tanks and 700 more accompanying APCs plus 840 BTR-4 variant vehicles [or something similar] to complete these 8 mechanized divisions.  This is in addition to what is already reported on order.  That will provide 6 modern-equipped and 2 older-equipped operational divisions by 2020.  At that point, the IA will probably start to purchase more armor to reconfigure to their planned structure of 6 mechanized and 4 armored divisions and to allow for the retirement or transfer to training duties of their T55s in 2020 and their T72s by 2025.


These projections are based on current budgets.  If the Iraqi Government finds itself with additional funds, the purchasing could be accelerated; Or delayed further, if there is another budget crisis.



In August 2007 and June 2008, monster articles were written projecting the Iraqi Security Forces planned development by 2012 and, in some cases, beyond.  In 2009 those projections were updated with a series of articles ending with projected Iraqi Total Force Mobilization published in August 2009.  There have been enough changes to warrant an update to that article and a summary of current and projected ISF structure.


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 plus the 3 security divisions in the Iraqi Army and Federal Police 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 53 divisions plus enough independent brigades in the Iraqi Special Operations Force and Emergency Response Force to equate to 5 more divisions.  They are broken down into the following:


Iraqi Army (IA) is the primary force for external defense and provides four (5 including KRG) corps headquarters and 20 divisions.  2 of those 20 divisions would not be in the field forces.  Due to budget issues, only 8 of the 18 field divisions are now planned to be mechanized.  Previous plans indicated 10 to 12 mechanized and armored divisions were planned:

  • 14 commissioned divisions (1st thru 12th, 14th and 17th). The 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 18th, and 19th divisions are planned to be mechanized by 2020.  9th Division is currently upgrading to M1A1 tanks and M1126 armored personnel carriers.  Older armor is being redistributed to the other 7 planned mechanized divisions at 1 mechanized brigade per division except for 11th Division.  11th Division is receiving at least 2 mech brigades of equipment and is probably the next to fully convert after 9th Division completes its upgrade by 2012.
  • 2 Peshmerga divisions transferred to the IA (15th and 16th) but, not yet commissioned.
  • 2 division-groupings of IA security units (56th, 1st Presidential and 2nd Presidential Brigades plus 15 Independent Security Battalions).   These are under the Office of the Commander-in-Chief and would not be part of the field corps.  Probably will be commissioned as 2 divisions by 2012
  • 2 planned divisions (18th and 19th) probably commissioning by 2012.
  • The Iraqi Marines are currently an under strength brigade.  With the planned expansion of the Al Fao port facilities; this force will need to grow to at least 2 brigades by 2015, possibly a division in 2015-2020.
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 Zerevani Police are being “nationalized” into the Federal Police at a rate of 4-6 brigades per year.  There are 18 planned divisions, 17 of which would be part of the field forces.  2 to 4 of these divisions are planned to be light mechanized:
  • 4 commissioned divisions (1st thru 4th).
  • 2 divisions of Kurdish Zerevani Police transferring to the FP.
  • 1 security division forming (Central Bank, Antiquities, and Embassy Security Brigades). This division would not be part of the field forces.
  • 11 divisions planned to transfer and retrain from provincial Emergency Police by 2015. Up to 4 of these are planned to be light mechanized but, probably only 2 will be equipped by 2015.
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.  Still short 5 brigades but, those are expected to be operational by 2012.
Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) is currently organized into 2 brigades but, is planned to be 10 independent brigades co-located with and supporting each of the operational commands:
  • 2.5 division-equivalents planned in the 2015-2020 period.
MoI Emergency Response Force (ERF) is currently only 3 brigades and is adding a nationalized battalion every 3 months.  The provincial SWAT battalions are being trained and ‘nationalized’.  Projected force is 10 independent brigades with 1-3 battalions per province:
  • 2.5 division-equivalents planned by 2015.
Oil Police Directorate (OPD) is planned to operate in 4 regions protecting oil infrastructure.  Each region is to be a light security division-equivalent.  Currently about half-strength and planned to fully take over oil infrastructure security from the IA in 2014.  These forces would not be part of the field corps:
  • 4 regions, division equivalents planned by 2015.  Currently 1-2 divisions in actual strength.
Facilities Protection Service (FPS) is being retrained, re-vetted, and re-organized.  FPS is responsible for guarding key buildings and installations.  It is being reorganized into three security divisions. These forces would not be part of the field corps:
  • 3 division reorganization of existing forces planned by 2015.


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 Iraqi Army, Federal Police, Oil Police, and Facilities Protection Service’s 10 security divisions will not be part of the field corps except in extreme cases.
  • The ISOF and ERB elements may equate to 5 planned divisions but, they are likely to be assigned to army and corps as independent brigades with the responsibility for corps’ level reconnaissance, rear-area security, and Quick Reaction Force air assault brigades.


There are 10 Corps-level headquarters in the wartime structure to command the remaining 43 field divisions.  This is 2 corps on the western borders and 7 corps on the eastern border plus 1 reserve corps.  Each of the corps headquarters would have 1 or 2 independent ERB or ISOF Brigade(s) assigned in addition to their 3 to 5 subordinate divisions.


7 of the 8 Operational Commands are being built up to be corps, while the Baghdad Operational Command’s 2 subordinate Area Commands plus the de facto Kurdish Regional Guard are also Corps.   These headquarters constitute the 10 corps command structure. They are to be the basis of the organizing corps.

  • Anbar Operational Command was recently referred to as Anbar Military Operational Command and also called the basis of an IA Corps headquarters.  Responsible for the western borders of Iraq [Anbar Province].
  • Ninawa Operational Command will be responsible for the northern half of the Syrian border in wartime.  Peacetime northern IA corps headquarters. 
  • Irbil Operational Command does not officially exist.  It represents the de facto Kurdish Regional Border Guards Corps headquarters and is responsible for the northern borders of Iraq.
  • Samarra Operational Command will probably assume responsibility for the Sulaymaniyah/Iranian border region in wartime.  In peacetime this is to be a Federal Police Corps responsible for northern Iraq.
  • Diyala Operational Command will probably assume responsibility for the northern part of the Diyala/Iranian border region in wartime.  In peacetime this command is to be the eastern IA Corps headquarters.
  • Baghdad Operational Command’s Rusafa Area Command will probably take over the southern Diyala/Iranian border region in wartime.  It is currently a joint corps owning eastern Baghdad.
  • Baghdad Operational Command’s Karkh Area Command will probably be the reserve corps in wartime.  It is currently a joint corps owning western Baghdad.
  • Karbala Operational Command will probably have responsibility for the Wassit/Iranian border region in wartime.  In peacetime this will be a Federal Police Corps responsible for central Iraq.
  • Mid-Euphrates Operational Command will probably have responsibility for the Maysan/Iranian border region in wartime.  Also responsible for the Najaf/Muthanna borders.  In peacetime this will be a Federal Police Corps responsible for southern Iraq.
  • Basrah Operational Command has and will retain wartime responsibility for Basrah Province’s borders.  This is expected to be the southern IA Corps headquarters.


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


USF-I legacy bases


This is a speculation piece.  The decisions on this option will not be made until after a new Iraqi Government is formed.  The last time it took 5 months to form a government after the elections.  Then it will take an agreement between the US Government and the new Iraqi Government to extend the US presence in Iraq and to determine the size and locations.


The Iraqi Security Forces will not be capable of a successful defense of Iraq against an external threat in 2012.  It has never been the plan for the ISF to stand alone in 2012.  Since 2005, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has repeatedly and publically stated that the plan is for the Iraqi Security Forces to reach Strategic Independence in 2020, not 2012.  In May 2009, the Defense Minister, General Abdel Qader Jassim, stated that they might not meet the 2015 and 2020 goals given the current budget problems.  The agreement for US Forces to leave Iraq by 2012 was driven by politics, not the planned capabilities of the ISF.


The development and modernization plan for the Iraqi Security Force is broken into 3 5-year plans:

  • Phase 1 (2006-2010):  Tactical independence.  This means that the ISF is able to perform effective low-intensity conflict [internal security and counter-insurgency] by the end of 2010.  This goal has been met.
  • Phase 2 (2011-2015):  Operational independence.  This means the Ministry of Interior forces are developed to the point of taking over internal security and the Ministry of Defense forces are transitioning to external security.   While the MoI training and development appears to be on schedule, the MoD equipment and support is not adequately funded.  The biggest weakness at this point is the total lack of orders for air defense weapons, indicating there will be no effective Iraqi air defense capacity by 2015.  It takes years to produce and deliver weapons, train personnel, and develop the support infrastructure.  And that clock does not start until the systems are ordered. 
  • Phase 3 (2016-2020):  Strategic independence.  This is what it sounds like.  The ISF able to stand on its own.  However, the budget issues indicate that 2020 may be an optimistic date.


As you might notice, 2012 is not even a waypoint in the actual Iraqi Ministry of Defense plan for developing the ISF.  In 2012, the ISF will be capable of internal security but, will not be able to successfully defend its borders: 

  • In 2012, the Iraqi Air Force will not have any fighters unless they are provided with used aircraft.  Even in that case, they will be 3 years at minimum training personnel to make those aircraft a functional and effective air defense force.  Helicopter support forces will be further in development but, still under strength and in training.  Fixed-wing transports will still be in delivery.  Only the reconnaissance and training wings will be operational in 2012.
  • In 2012, the Iraqi Army will have 1 modern armored division and 1 old-Soviet equipped mechanized division plus mechanized brigades equivalent to another mechanized division spread throughout four other divisions; only half of the minimum of 6 heavy divisions that are required to cover the key areas of the Iraqi borders and no reserve.  Artillery elements will still be in development, at this time only 1 of the 14 commissioned divisions has howitzers.  Likewise, Corps-Troops, engineers and logistics will still be in development.  While the supporting logistics is adequate for internal security, it is not even close to adequate for the requirements of a conventional war.  The Iraqi Army will still have responsibility for internal security in several areas since the Ministry of Interior forces will not be fully trained and reorganized to take over.
  • In 2012, the Iraqi Navy will still be a year from its remaining 2 offshore support vessels and 15 patrol boats being operational units.  Delivery is not scheduled to complete until late 2013. 
  • In 2012, the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Force and Federal Police will be 3 years from completing the retraining and absorption of provincial Emergency Police forces.  The Oil Police Directorate is not planned to be ready to fully take over security of the oil infrastructure until 2014.  This means that elements of the Iraqi Army will still be performing internal security duties that the MoI is supposed to take over and will not be available to shift to external security until 2015.  Additionally the Federal Police and ERF have wartime roles providing forces to the Iraqi Army.  Their training for those reserve roles does not start until after 2015, when they have completed their training for their police roles.  The Department of Border Enforcement is also still short 5 brigades and support forces for their role and is unlikely to be fully operational in 2012.


US Forces remaining in Iraq will probably be designated as training forces and day to day that is exactly what they will be doing – training Iraqi Security Forces in the use of their new equipment and battalion/brigade level employment.  Their other function will be as General Petraeus briefed Congress in 2007, strategic overwatch filling those gaps in Iraqi capabilities.  Total personnel numbers will probably be about 25,000.  Basing will probably be at Tallil, Balad, Q-West, Al Asad, and Taji.  In an emergency, these forces could be reinforced to a corps in 6 to 8 weeks.


Based on the gaps in ISF capabilities, what follows is the probable composition of US Forces needed to remain in Iraq after the agreed withdraw by 2012, plus forces in the region and prepositioned equipment available if a rapid reinforcement is required.

  • US Air Force in Iraq - Will probably base 6 Fighter Squadrons at Tallil, Balad, and Al Asad.  Their duties will include training the Iraqi Air force in air combat maneuvering and providing air defense until they are operational.  This will probably be needed until 2018-2020, however, delays in delivery and training could extend this requirement. 
  • US Air Force in theater support - Transport aviation would probably be based in Kuwait to provide the majority of the supply needed by air.  Additional aviation could be rapidly deployed to reinforce from Europe and the US if needed.
  • US Army in Iraq – A reinforced division composed of 3 Aviation Brigades [Taji, Q-West, and Al Asad], 2 Heavy Brigade Combat Teams [Balad, Taji], 1 Stryker Brigade Combat Team [Q-West], 1 Light Brigade Combat Team [Al Asad], 1 Field Artillery Brigade [Tallil], and the division headquarters [Taji] with probable air defense detachments at each base.  These forces will help train the Iraqi aviation, artillery, armor, and airmobile forces, provide security for the US Air Force, and provide aviation support to their airmobile forces.  Their overwatch role would be to provide a mobile reserve to reinforce the under-equipped Iraqi Army until their forces complete upgrade and training.  With the exception of one brigade providing security for the US Air force, these forces would probably phase out by 2015-2016 as the Iraqi Army gains armor, artillery, and the Iraqi Air Force gains helicopters. 
  • US Army in theater support - An additional Heavy Brigade Combat Team would be based in Kuwait and would provide convoy security as needed while being available as mechanized reinforcement in southern Iraq in emergency.  This brigade will phase out as the Army forces in Iraq phase out.  The forces in Iraq could be rapidly reinforced utilizing the US Army’s prepositioned Heavy Brigade Combat Team sets in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi, UAE, and embarked on the Army’s prepositioning squadron at Diego Garcia.
  • US Navy and Marine Corps in theater support - This does not ever go away.  The USN has had a continual presence in the Gulf since 1943 and is not leaving just because US Forces are departing Iraq.  Basing of the USN elements is not in Iraq and their numbers will not count against the forces in Iraq.  US Navy forces in the Gulf are a destroyer squadron at minimum.  In the Gulf or the North Arabian Sea the US Navy usually has a Carrier Battle Group and an Expeditionary Battle Group with and an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit.  It is normal practice to have an additional Carrier Battle Group within 18 days of the Gulf and there are 3 Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons based at Guam, Diego Garcia, and in the Mediterranean.  Each MPS has a Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s set of equipment.


(Note:  The mix of 2 heavy, 1 light and 1 Stryker brigade in Iraq is based on requirements for training and overwatch combined with the mix of AABs scheduled to take over in the summer of 2010.  Those 4 brigades arriving in the summer 2010 rotation are 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment [heavy], 4th Brigade/1st Cavalry Division [heavy], 4th Brigade/3rd Infantry Division [light], and 2nd Brigade/25 Infantry division [Stryker].  The politicians may not have decided yet but, USF-I is already restructuring for the most likely outcome.)


The Iraqi Security Forces are not going to be ready for self-defense in 2012.  They were never planned to be ready in 2012.  Depending on US and Iraqi politics, this is a an optimal military composition of US “Training” forces remaining in overwatch past the 2012 deadline to fill the gaps in Iraqi capabilities.


However, power politics will have its say in this.  It is not in the best interests of any of the country’s regimes’ bordering Iraq for Iraq to be a strong, democratic country with a strong Kurdish representation.  Almost all of the bordering countries are kingdoms or theocratic dictatorships and Turkey has a problem with the Kurds.  Just the existence of such a country bordering them is a threat to their rule as their populations will ask why they cannot have what Iraq has.  The increasing exports of oil from Iraq only makes this a bigger problem for those countries as it increases Iraq’s economic influence at their expense.


This is particularly true for Iran and is why the Iranians want as many pro-Iranian politicians to win as possible or to disrupt Iraq if this is not possible.  Iran would like to be in the position to dictate to Iraq through military superiority if not outright control Iraq.  Iraq is a natural barrier to expanding Iranian regional influence and provides an example to Iran’s citizens of a form of governance that many aspire too at this time.


While the above is the most likely force composition, if enough power goes to those foreign-sponsored and funded factions, the projection becomes doubtful.  The current politics of the US and Iraq are such that the request for continued US presence in Iraq must come from the next Iraqi government after it forms.


The most likely compromise, if those foreign supported factions gain enough power, would be a request for the aviation portions only.  This would mean a delay in development and training of the ground forces but, would provide the missing air support.


It is unlikely those factions will gain enough power to outright block a request for US forces to remain but, if they do, there will be no request and the US forces will be gone in 2012.  That would leave Iraq vulnerable for at least a decade.


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during January 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 28 February 2010.


The key items concerning the Iraqi Security Force from the last 9010 quarterly report to Congress “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq: December 2009”, the apparent divisional Iraqi Army Reorganization, and Iraqi Air Force Development have been addressed in separate articles. Highlights in this update include:

  • Only 7,000 more officers for the Iraqi Army.
  • Iraqi Army airborne training planned.
  • Iraqi Air Force aircraft deliveries.
  • Iraqi Navy receives last 2 Patrol Ships.
  • Ministry of Interior Emergency Response Force expands to 2, possibly 3 brigades.
  • Federal Police continues Carabinarie training.
  • Anbar Provincial Security Police adds a 5th Brigade.
  • Oil Police may be building to a 4 division structure.


Iraqi Army


Press headlines, reporting, and announcements that "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave his consent to reinstate 20,400 officers" were somewhat misleading.  Follow up reporting clarified that the 20,000 reinstated officers includes 13,000 that are already in service. Only 7,000 remaining officers are in the latest reinstatement order.  That should be enough to correct the remaining shortage of officers in the existing Iraqi Army.


The 3rd class of female Iraqi Army started basic training on 27 January 2010.  This program began in the fall of 2009 and is starting small.


Incorrect reporting stating that the commanding officer 4th Bde of 6th Div was in Tikrit for the new Location Command facilities ribbon-cutting identified the probable future move of the 17th Division to Salahadin.  This is part of a planned general rotation of Iraqi divisions.  As part of that rotation, the 22nd Brigade of the 6th Division from northeast Baghdad is reported in Ninawa receiving training on airmobile tactics preparatory to relieving a brigade of 2nd Division.  This is the first movements of what is planned to be a 10 division rotation.


The 1/82 “Advisory and Assistance” Brigade is preparing to provide airborne training to the Iraqi Army.  "We're training today to refresh ourselves on airborne safety procedures so that after the elections, we can train with our Iraqi army partners and conduct a combined airborne training operation with them here."  This will be the first airborne training of Iraqi Army elements since the army was reformed.  Which Iraqi units will be trained is not being said at this time but, the best candidates are elements of the 2nd Division.


The Iraqi Army 3-32/8 Battalion in Kut is receiving Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [Raven] training.  While there have not been reports of Iraqi purchases of UAVs, there has been previous reports of the Department of Border Enforcement receiving training in their use.


The 56th Brigade continues to be augmented with 9th Armored Division T72 tanks.  The 56th Brigade is responsible for guarding the International Zone and has been reported as receiving training in the use of M113 armored personnel carriers.  While they are expected to receive their own tanks, the T72s currently augmenting the 56th bear the markings of the 34/9 Armored Brigade.


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force is about to take delivery of used former French Army SA342 Gazelle attack helicopters.  Their technical personnel are in training at Bourges and the Gazelles are prepared for delivery at Valance [France].


The Iraqi Air Force took delivery of 4 more T-6A trainers.  The remaining 7 of 15 T-6As are to be delivered by the end 2010.


The Iraqis chose to take a refund for Mirage F1s ordered by Saddam and held during the sanctions.  The money is expected to be used to buy more modern fighters.


Iraqi Navy


The last 2 of 4 ordered patrol ships arrived at Umm Qasr from Italy.  Patrol Ships 703 and 704 were christened at Umm Qasr.  The 15 crews for the 15 ordered patrol boats that are to be delivered next are to train in south Louisiana.        


Iraqi Special Operations Force


The Karkh Area Command Strike Team [battalion] is receiving further airmobile training.  This unit has not been reported operational yet and is not fully built.  It is the 1st of 8 planned mechanized commando battalions supporting the operational commands.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


The first report of the 2nd battalion of the 1st Emergency Response Brigade occurred in February.  This is a re-designation of the former 3rd Emergency Response Battalion, previously known as Hillah SWAT.  This is also the first mention of a numeric designation for the Emergency Response Brigade, indicating that the force has expanded from 7 battalions and split into 2, probably 3 brigades.  The Emergency Response Force is absorbing and retraining the better half of the provincial SWAT battalions and is expected to grow to 9 brigades [27 battalions] by 2015.


The Iraqi Federal Police graduated its 12th Carabinarie course in February. 16 Federal Police battalions and 2 Kurdish Zerevani training elements have graduated from this advanced training.


1st Federal Police Division

  • 1st (Seyafiyah) IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad Oct09
  • 1-1/1 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 28Aug08
  • 1-2/1 (Wolf) IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 19Feb08
  • 2-2/1 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 21Apr08
  • 3-2/1 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 21Jun08
2nd Federal Police Division
  • 1st (Unity) IFP Motorized Battalion phase III grad Dec09
  • 1-5/2 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 25Feb10
  • 1-6/2 IFP Motorized Battalion phase III grad 12Feb09
  • 3-6/2 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 30Apr09
3rd Federal Police Division
  • 2-1/3 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 30Apr09
  • 4-1/3 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 9Jul09
  • 1-2/3 IFP Battalion Grad Phase III 2Dec08.
  • 2-3/3 IFP Battalion Phase III Grad Oct09; xfer to Anbar Div?
  • 3-3/3 IFP Battalion Phase III Grad Dec09; xfer to Anbar Div?
4th Federal Police Division
  • 2-1/4 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 9Jul09
  • 1-4/4 IFP Motorized Battalion Phase III grad 25Feb10


The source of the Kurdish trainees has been identified as the "Zerevani ERU Bde" but, specific unit identities have not been provided.


The first report of a PSF-5 in Anbar Provincial Security Force indicates the organization and/or expansion to 5 paramilitary police brigades in Anbar.   This also indicates that Anbar is to eventually have 2 Federal Police Divisions when the Anbar PSF is retrained and absorbed.


Training and organization of K9 personnel and orders for dogs has increase in priority.  This training has been ongoing for a year now but, only recently increased in priority due to ineffective electronic sensors and resistance to the use of dogs in the Iraqi Security Forces.


The Ministry of Oil formed a 4th Oil Company.  Combined with the reported 47 battalion structure [most are still company strength], this could mean a reorganization of the Oil Police into 4 vice the originally 3 planned security divisions.


[Note:  The 1st Presidential Brigade, 2nd Presidential Brigade, and 56th Brigade, plus the 15 independent security battalions have been moved to page 1 of the OOB.  These 2 division-equivalents of forces are under the direct operational command of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief despite their administrative subordination with the army.]


A review of the status of the Iraqi Air Force helps illustrate their current army-centric priority in development.  The IqAF is a decade or more from being built to current plans and having a real air defense capacity but, the support components for the Iraqi Army are only about 5 years from completion.


Much of the IqAF’s resources are still in building infrastructure.  The IqAF has 4 operational bases and is currently developing 5 more with a plan for 14 bases by 2015.  However, the last 9010 Report indicated that they are considering reducing this to 4 primary bases and 3 forward operational bases.  This reflects the realities of limited Ministry of Defense resource allotments to the IqAF plus major personnel shortages and priorities.

  • Active Bases (4):  New Al Muthanna [BIAP], Kirkuk, Basrah, and Taji.
  • Developing Bases (5):  Ali [Tallil], Kut, Shaibah, Tikrit, and Taqaddum.
  • Reported Planned Bases (5):  Irbil, Al Asad, H2, Suwayrah, and Q-West.


In 2007, the IqAF was reported as planned to have an eventual total of 38 squadrons.  Currently the IqAF is only 9 squadrons with 3 more forming.  Additionally, there are 15-16 squadrons identified as probably planned based on reported negotiations on numbers and types of aircraft to be purchased.


The existing and currently forming squadrons include 3 reconnaissance, 1 fixed-wing training, 1 rotary-wing training, 1 transport, 1 utility helicopter, 1 transport helicopter, and 1 special operations squadron with 2 fixed-wing training and 1 attack helicopter squadron forming:

  • 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron is based at Kirkuk.  Equipped with Cessna C208 Caravan ISR and light transport aircraft.  Three of the ISR aircraft are equipped to fire Hellfire missiles and have been training in this role.
  • 70th Reconnaissance Squadron is based at Basrah but is moving to Ali.  Equipped with Sama CH2000 and SBL-360 reconnaissance aircraft.
  • 87th Reconnaissance Squadron is based at New Al Muthanna [BIAP] and is equipped with King Air 350 ISR and light transport aircraft.  While there were reports that these aircraft were to be equipped to fire Hellfire, there have been no reports of training in this role since their delivery.
  • 1st Flight Training Squadron is based at Kirkuk but is moving to Tikrit.  Equipped with Cessna C172 and is used for basic flight training.
  • 12th (Rotary) Flight Training Squadron is based at Kirkuk but is moving to Tikrit.  Equipped with Bell 206 Jet Rangers and loaned US Army OH58s and is used to train helicopter pilots.
  • 23rd Transport Squadron is based at New Al Muthanna [BIAP].  Currently equipped with 3 C-130E with 6 C-130J-30 on order for delivery by 2013.
  • 2nd Utility Helicopter Squadron is based at Taji.  Equipped with UH-II Huey II and used for multiple roles including SAR and night-vision training.
  • 4th Transport Helicopter Squadron is based at Taji.  Equipped with Mi17, this squadron also supports a detachment at Taqaddum.  Regularly used for medical evacuation and general transport.
  • 15th Special Operations Squadron is based at Taji.  Equipped with MI17v5, this squadron provides support to the Iraqi Special Operations Force.
  • 88th Attack Helicopter Squadron is forming at Taji.  To be equipped with used French Army SA342 Gazelles that are reported ready for delivery in France. Maintenance technicians are reported training in France and expect to be at Taji in April 2010.  [Hat-tip:  Marco Dijkshoorn of the Dutch Aviation Society / Scramble Magazine.]
  • 2 more unidentified Training Squadrons are forming at Kirkuk with eventual basing at Tikrit.  One of the squadrons is equipping with US T-6A trainers.  The first 4 of 15 ordered T-6As were delivered in December 2009 with all 15 to be delivered by December 2010.  The second squadron is equipping with Serbian Lasta-95 trainers.  Serbian sources have reported 9 of 20 ordered Lasta-95s were delivered by December 2009 with all to be delivered by the end of 2010. [The Lasta95 arrivals in Iraq is unconfirmed.]


The 15-16 additional planned squadrons and their types are inferred by aircraft orders and Iraqi MoD official’s stated desires to order:

  • 5 Fighter Squadrons are probably planned based on the Iraqi MoD desire for 96 F16C/D by 2020.
  • 2 Lt Attack Squadrons were probably planned to be equipped with the 36 AT-6B approved by FMS.  Actual order is on hold for budget reasons.  Alternatively these aircraft could be split between the reconnaissance squadrons and a 4th squadron formed.  Thus converting the 4 resulting squadrons to composite squadrons with ISR, light attack, and light transport aircraft.  The AT-6B is equipped with a data-link that is compatible with the ISR equipment in the IqAF to facilitate targeting direction from the ISR aircraft.
  • 3 Transport or Special Operations (Helicopter) Squadrons planned.  Five squadrons worth of Mi17 crews are reported trained but, only 2 squadrons are currently equipped with helicopters ordered for a 3rd.
  • 2 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Squadrons are planned based on the 24 armed Bell 407s ordered and the option for 26 more. The initial 24 are contracted to be delivered by 30 August 2011 and if the option is exercised the remaining 26 are to be delivered by 2013.
  • 3 Attack Helicopter Squadrons are planned or forming based on the 24 EC-635 ordered and the option for 26 more plus the option for additional SA342 Gazelles.  Delivery of the first EC635 has been reported but, the arrival in Iraq is unconfirmed.  Production rate reported indicates the EC635s are being delivered at 1 per month, indicating the first 24 are to be delivered by 2012 and the optional 26 EC635s could be delivered by 2014.  There is no confirmation that the option for a second squadron’s worth of SA342 Gazelles has been exercised.
  • 1 Transport Squadron is probably planned based on the order of AN-32s from the Ukraine.  6 are ordered with an option for 4 more to be delivered by 2014.


Much of the Iraqi Air Force’s planned organizational structure is not clear from public reporting.  Only 27-28 of the 38 planned squadron types and their aircraft types are publically reported or inferred and only 12 of those are formed or forming.


One third of the 12 formed or forming squadrons are [as to be expected] the Flight Training Wing.  Those 4 squadrons are moving to Tikrit where the IqAF is consolidating training.


While Iraqi MoD has expressed a desire for 5 squadrons worth of F16 fighters, that is unlikely to be the total jet fighter and attack force.  This is especially true since the Iraqis have a practice of diversifying their aircraft orders to prevent single-source supply failure.  Of note:  Iraq has chosen to take a refund for the 18 undelivered Mirage F1 aircraft vice taking delivery.


The Transport Wing is 1 squadron each of C130s and AN32s so far.  There are probably 1 or 2 more squadrons of transport aircraft planned for the transport wing since the Iraqi Army is starting airborne training soon.


There are no clear signs or reports on what the IqAF support elements to the Iraqi Navy and Marines will be.  Probably only one squadron is planned.


The Iraqi Army plans to have 4 corps and the IqAF helicopter/reconnaissance aircraft purchases should reflect that planned structure since they are direct support elements for the IA.  There should be an aviation brigade/wing supporting each of those 4 corps.  The IqAF appears to have a target date of 2015 for building those army direct support squadrons.  The orders and reported training for these elements indicate a force of:

  • 3 reconnaissance squadrons and 2 light attack [COIN] squadrons or 4 composite squadrons with a mix of recon, light attack, and light transport aircraft.
  • 2 armed reconnaissance helicopter squadrons. [2 more to be ordered?]
  • 4 attack helicopter squadrons.
  • 5 transport helicopter squadrons.  [1 squadron is dedicated ISOF support.]


While the IqAF is missing some elements, the planned organization of each of the 4 Corps’ Aviation Support Wings/Brigades appears to be: 

  • 1 fixed-wing composite squadron of recon, light attack, and light transport aircraft.  [Currently missing 1 squadron and the light attack aircraft component that has been delayed by budget problems.]
  • 1 armed reconnaissance helicopter squadron.  [Missing 2 squadrons of helicopter orders.]
  • 1 attack helicopter squadron.  [On order and delivering.]
  • 1 transport helicopter squadron.  [Crews trained; 1 operational, 1 ordered, and 2 missing.]


This projection disregards the planned wartime joint structure of 9 corps.  In that structure, 3 of those 9 corps are Ministry of Interior and MoI is ordering its own helicopters.  The other 2 de facto corps are Kurdish Peshmerga and the KRG has some light helicopters, plans to order more, and IqAF would not include them in their plans.


The Iraqi Air Force is slowly developing.  But it will not be ready by 2012.  While Iraqi Army support, transport and reconnaissance should be ready by 2015; Air defense will not be operational until 2020 at earliest, budget permitting.  The priorities in development have been and remain army-centric.


[Full disclosure:  Since 2007, I have been disregarding the reported orders of SA342 Gazelle aircraft.  I was aware that MNSTC-I CAFTT had recommended against ordering Gazelles.  Iraqi MoD’s reluctance to buy used equipment after the BUMAR incident in 2005 also colored my view; Gazelles manufacture was discontinued in the early 1990s, these aircraft being delivered are used French Army.  The nearly identical reporting on EC635 order numbers had me convinced that the Gazelle reporting was confusion with the EC635 orders.  The current ISF OOB reflects this error in judgment and will be corrected with the March update.]

 IA divswap

The Iraqi Army is continuing to increase in size, restructuring to fill its mission of external defense.  Now the Iraqi Army appears to be redeploying/rotating most, if not all, of the Iraqi Army divisions to support training, operations, and to break any untoward local political or criminal influence.


In December 2009, the Kurdish press reported the planned transfer of the Iraqi Army’s 6th Division from Baghdad to Ninawa and the 10th Division from southern Iraq to Kirkuk.  This indicated 2 planned rotations:  6th Division in NW Baghdad swapping areas with 2nd Division in Mosul and 10th Division in DhiQar swapping with 12th Division in Kirkuk.  Both of these transfers would facilitate training by moving well trained divisions to hot zones for experience while moving divisions in hot zones to quieter areas where they could receive advanced training.


The Kurdish report was just the tip of the iceberg and not the first division planned to move.  The Location Command at Tikrit recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new facilities.  The 4th Division’s commanding officer was not reported at this ceremony despite this being in his headquarters area.  The senior Iraqi Army officer present was erroneously described as the “commander of the Iraqi Army's 4th Brigade, 6th Army Division.”


Brigadier General Ali Jassim was the commander of the 4/6 Brigade prior to its renaming as the 25th Brigade by Iraqi Ministry of Defense order 151, dated 19 February 2008.  He remained in command when, in June 2008, the 25th Brigade became the 17th Division, headquartered at Kalsu and responsible for southern Baghdad and northern Babil provinces.   The most likely reason why he was at Tikrit for a ribbon-cutting for the new facilities and the commander of 4th Division was not, is that 17th Division is in the process of replacing the 4th Division in Salahadin province.


The Iraqi Army probably plans to swap all 5 of its divisions in the north [hot zone] with divisions from southern Iraq and Baghdad.  So far, the plan looks like:

  • 17th Division [south Baghdad] swaps with 4th Division [Salahadin] so that 4th Divison can go to Commando School at Kalsu and receive other advanced training.
  • 6th Division [NW Baghdad] swaps with 2nd Division [Mosul] so that 2nd Division can also get airmobile and advanced training.  Note:   56th Brigade is only administratively assigned to 6th Division and will not be leaving the International Zone.  The 56th Brigade appears to be in the process of upgrading with T72 tanks and M113 armored personnel carriers.
  • 10th Division [Maysan/DhiQar/Muthanna] swaps with 12th Division [Kirkuk] so that 12th Division can get advanced training.


The other 2 divisions in the north, the 3rd Division [western Ninawa] and 5th Division [Diyala] have no replacements identified at this time.


It is unlikely that 1st, 7th, or 9th Divisions of the Quick Intervention Corps are moving, since they already provide battalion/brigade deployments all over Iraq and train when in home garrison.  They are the Iraqi Army’s strategic.  Besides which, the 9th Division is in armor upgrade to M1A1 tanks and M1126 Strykers and thus is tethered to the training facilities in Taji and Besmaya.  That leaves 8th Division [Wasit/Babil/Qadisayah/Karbala/Najaf], 11th Division [east Baghdad], and 14th Division [Basrah] available to swap for 3rd and 5th Divisions in the north:

  • 11th Division is the greenest; it is unlikely that this division is moving.
  • 8th Division has elements receiving BMP1 training which makes sense for armor augment to either a western Ninawa or Diyala redeployment.  Alternatively, those armor elements may be detaching to start forming 19th Division.  Replacement of the 3rd Division in western Ninawa by 8th Division is most likely.
  • 14th Division is also available.  Its most likely redeployment is to replace 5th Division in Diyala. 


While the sequencing and timing is not public knowledge, it looks like the 17th/4th Division swap is in-progress.  It is unlikely that more than one swap will be in performed at a time.  Each swap will probably take 1 to 2 months.


From a training perspective, this planned move is overdue.  It provides the divisions with experience in deploying the entire division.  None of the Iraqi Army divisions has ever done a full divisional redeployment.  The closest and only time any of the divisions conducted such a large scale deployment was when 1st Division took 2 of its brigades and a brigade from the 7th Division from Anbar to Basrah in an emergency deployment in 2007.  No other Iraqi Army division has ever redeployed more than a brigade over a large distance.  A deployment at this scale exercises their ability to mobilize divisions and redeploy to the threatened areas as needed.


From a political perspective it is also well overdue.  The longer a division stays in one area, the more likely it is to develop corrupting political and/or criminal contacts with the locals.


As part of this rotation, it is likely that some formations will be rotated through Besmaya for training and re-equipping.  This is especially likely since the 9th Armored Division is transferring its older armor to other units as they replace their older tanks with M1A1s and its armored personnel carriers with M1126 Strykers.  Personnel from 6 divisions and ISOF have already been reported receiving BTR80/BMP1 maintenance training and the 56th Brigade has been receiving M113 crew training at Besmaya.  There are also indications of T72s transferring to the 56th Brigade.  Splitting off battalions from the transferring divisions to upgrade them at Besmaya’s Armor School to armor or mechanized would be practical.


The Iraqi Army many be restructuring and standardizing divisions as part of these redeployments.  By removing the battalions that are excess to standard organization in the divisions during their rotations, they could organize them into new brigades to start the formation of the 18th and 19th Divisions. Those 2 divisions are planned to be mechanized, which means they may get issued some of the old armor from 9th Armored Division as part of this.  The training, upgrade, and new equipment issue would be done under the Unit Set Fielding program at Besmaya.


According to the Montrose Toast Iraqi Order of Battle, the 14 commissioned Iraqi Army Divisions are 29 battalions over standard strength.  Some of those battalions have been disestablished, converted to field artillery, or converted to other support functions.  This total does not include the 2 Mountain Divisions transferring to the Iraqi Army from the Peshmerga, ISOF, or the security battalions.

  • 17th Division is short 3 battalions [missing a brigade] from standard organization.  This is the only commissioned division in the Iraqi Army that is short combat battalions.  They will probably fill out their structure with battalions from the over strength forces such as the 4th Division which they are replacing.
  • 1st and 7th Divisions are standard organization with 12 combat battalions each.
  • 6th, 10th, and 14th Divisions are each 1 battalion over standard strength.  In 6th Division, the 56th Mechanized Brigade is not included in these numbers since its attachment is for admin purposes only – the 56th Brigade is effectively the armor portion of the forming Presidential Security Division.  The excess battalion in 14th Division has been receiving riverine training and appears to be transferring to the new Iraqi Marine Brigade that is forming.
  • 11th and 12th Divisions are each 2 battalions over standard strength.
  • 3rd and 5th Divisions are each 3 battalions over standard strength.
  • 2nd Division is 4 battalions over standard strength.
  • 4th, 8th and 9th Divisions are each 5 battalions over standard strength.


The information from the last 9010 Report was that there are 189 battalions in these 14 divisions as of 30 November 2009.  Standard organizational strength for each of the 14 Iraqi Army divisions is 12 combat battalions, for a total of 168.  That is 21 battalions over standard organization and confirms that most of the excess battalions listed above still exist.   Those numbers do not include the security battalions in the 2 Presidential Brigades [6], 56th Brigade [3], the 15 independent protection battalions, ISOF [7], Iraqi Marines [2], or the 2 mountain divisions transferring to the Iraqi Army from the Peshmerga [24].


The combat battalions in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Divisions were authorized 135 percent manning prior to the budget crunch in the fall of 2008.  The remaindering Iraqi Army divisions were authorized 120 percent manning in combat battalions.  The Iraqi Army has been forming new battalions and brigades with this excess manning all during the budget freeze.  These excess battalions probably will be used to form the 18th and 19th Divisions during the next 1 to 2 years.


This brings the Iraqi Army up to 20 Divisions by 2012 [including the 2 security divisions].  The combat battalions already exist; however, the headquarters and support structure require further reorganization, training, equipping, and development.

The unclassified portion of the December 2009 US Department of Defense report,Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq”, has been publically released.  The data cutoff date for this report, unless otherwise stated, is 30 November 2009.  [Keep this in mind, the data is over 2 months old.]  This article addresses the Iraqi Security Forces portions of the report. 


The US Department of Defense [sic] previously reported on the number of Iraqi Security Forces personnel authorized and assigned by the Ministries of Defense and Interior and trained with the assistance of Coalition forces. With the expiration of the mandate of UNSCR 1790, the data is now included in the classified annex because specific military personnel strength for a sovereign nation is considered sensitive.  [On 1 Jan 2009, Iraq became sovereign again per the United Nations.  The Government of Iraq has tighter classification rules than the US and the Pentagon has had to follow those rules for the last year.]


The incorporation of Kurdish forces in Iraqi Security Forces is not significantly addressed in this report.


[Note:  All bold-face emphasis in quotes are mine.  Quotes from the report are in italics.]


Iraqi Army


[Examples of items not mentioned in this report include the salvaged howitzers paraded in January, the reported planned division transfers, and the transfer to the Iraqi Army of the 2 Kurdish divisions.  So far, only US and Kurdish officials are talking about the Kurdish transfers.]


According to this report, The Iraqi Ministry of Defense forces are shifting emphasis to external defense.  However, the support structures and budgets are still a problem:

  • There is also an evolving emphasis by the JHQ [Joint Headquarters] leadership to focus the armed forces on traditional outward threats with recognition that internal security is not the primary function of the Iraqi Armed Forces. However, logistics, sustainment of ISF [Iraqi Security Force] personnel, equipment distribution, infrastructure maintenance, and force generation continue to pose obstacles to long-term operational capability.
  • As of November 30, 2009, the IA [Iraqi Army] was manned at 82% of its officers, 55% of its NCOs, with 85% of total MTOE [Military Table of Organization and Equipment] numbers.
  • As of November 30, 2009, the MoD [Ministry of Defense] remains under the MoF-imposed [Ministry of Finance] 253,000 personnel hiring freeze limitation. However, there are approximately 322,000 approved MTOE positions in the MoD against which almost 271,000 personnel are allocated pay.  [The few boot camp graduations noted in the fall of 2009 apparently were replacement personnel.] 


The new units that have been formed in the IA were from reallocating existing personnel from previously intentionally overmanned battalions.  The IA continues to expand the number of units in this fashion:

  • The IA currently has 13 infantry divisions and one partially mechanized division organized under the IGFC. Ground forces include 189 generated and trained IA battalions and 55 combat brigades (51 infantry brigades, 3 mechanized brigades, and 1 tank brigade) with a force generation focus on enabler units to complete the divisional force structure.  [These type designations are based on a comparison with US organization.  The IA calls 3 brigades “tank” and only 1 mechanized.]
  • In addition to the combat brigades, the MoD established two Presidential Protection Brigades, each with three battalions, to protect the President and Prime Minister, and 15 Independent Protection Battalions [never seen these in reporting before] to provide security for the Council of Representatives and other Iraqi VIPs and visitors. [This is the first mention of the 15 independent battalions.  The 21 total security battalions plus the 56/6 Brigade are the equivalent to the line elements of 2 IA security divisions.]
  • The Baghdad Brigade, officially responsible for IZ [International Zone] security, has been reflagged as the 56th Brigade of the 6th IA Division for administrative purposes, although it continues to serve under the operational control of the PM’s OCINC [Prime Minister’s Office of the Commander-in-Chief].  This confirms that the 56/6 Brigade will not go to Mosul if and when the 6th Division transfers.  The 56/6 Brigade has also been training on M113 armored personnel carriers and is in the process of upgrading as armor/mechanized.
  • Following the completion of Chemical MOSQ [Military Operational Specialty Qualifications] training, Chemical Defense units will begin their Unit Set Fielding in the first Quarter of 2010. These chemical defense units are expected to be assigned as part of the engineer units.]
  • The Field Artillery School has continued to mature and shifted its location from Besmaya to Abu Ghuraib while continuing to conduct live-fire training at Besmaya. The school has completed training a new cadre of instructors and will soon be home to soldiers prepared to receive instruction on the 120mm mortar system, considered light artillery in the IA. In October 2009, 120mm training throughput was accelerated from two batteries per month to five batteries per month.  This confirms a shift in the school location and the increased rate of mortar deployment.  All IA brigades are planned to have their initial battery of 120mm mortars later in 2010.


Iraqi Air Force


The Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) is still lagging in development and will not be close to ready by 2012: 

  • The IqAF will not meet its 2009 force strength goal of 5,217 personnel. Due to underresourcing from the GoI and MoD, the IqAF is undermanned. The capacity of the IqAF schools, including pilot production, is sufficient, but lack of accessions will prevent the IqAF from meetings its goals without external assistance or contractor support. The trend of under-resourcing the IqAF may lead to a gap in desired organic capacity in December 2011.
  • To maximize the scarce resources of the IqAF, ITAM-AF [Iraq Training and Advising Mission-Air Force] is advising a Main Operating Base/Forward Operating Base (MOB/FOB) [Major Operating Base/Forward Operating Base] strategy of four MOBs (Tikrit, Taji, New Al Muthanna Air Base - NAMAB, and Ali Air Base) and three FOBs (Qaiyara – Q-West, Al Asad, and Basrah) to the Iraqi Air Staff. This strategy is gaining traction with the IqAF; however, the final basing plan is not complete.  Previous plans indicated 11 to 12 air bases in 2012.  This strategy indicates a realization that the resources will not be available to meet that plan.  Q-West was not part of the previous 11-12 airbase plan and this is the first mention of IqAF planning to use that base. 
  • On its current trajectory, IqAF progress will allow for the withdrawal of advisory forces prior to the end of the SA, although the IqAF is expected to lack the independent capability for airspace control by December 31, 2011.  This was evident prior to the signing of the SA in 2008.
  • ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance – 70th Recon Squadron] assets from Basrah will move to Ali Base to establish the first Iraqi presence there in spring of 2010.
  • The IqAF Officers College is scheduled to begin classes at Tikrit in 2010. These two initiatives lay the groundwork for making Tikrit the primary IqAF training base. The last class of IqAF officers graduated the IA’s Military Academy at Rustimiyah in January.  IqAF training is being consolidated from Kirkuk, Taji, and Rustimiyah to Taji.


Iraqi Navy and Marines


The Iraqi Navy (IqN) and Marines (IqM) continue to develop and expand.  However, the same personnel and budget issues in the MoD are impacting them as well:

  • Communication difficulties and logistic issues mean that direction received from Baghdad is often problematic and late. As a result, the Head of the Navy is considering a move of his HQ to Al Zubayr in the south of the country in early 2010. The IqN is now demonstrating the capacity to train its forces and possesses a basic operational capability.
  • Owing to MoD budgetary constraints, IqN accessions have been put on hold and the IqN estimates that it will not be able to access new Sailors until 2010. Achieving the IqN target of 2,900 personnel by the end of 2010 may not be possible.
  • With the last two of four Italian-built patrol ships due for delivery by early 2010, and FMS [US Foreign Military Sales] contracts signed for the delivery of 15 Patrol Boats and two Offshore Support Vessels for delivery in 2010 and 2011, the IqN is on track for the acquisition of a modern capability.  With the fleet of modern Fast Assault Boats Iraq is acquiring, the IqN and IqM will be properly equipped to deliver maritime security by the end of December 31, 2011.  The last 2 patrol ships were turned over in Italy last month.  They are expected to arrive in Umm Qasr later this month.
  • The MARCENT [US Marines Central Command] sourced Request for Forces (RFF) for Iraqi Marine (IqM) training arrived October 1, 2009, and significantly improved the development of the 2nd IqM Battalion. This will allow the development of a versatile IqM force through early 2010 capable of conducting both land and maritime operations. The 2nd IqM Battalion conducted unit set fielding training in Shaiba in November 2009.
  • Throughout this period, the IqM has seen its ranks improve significantly. Additional Marine recruits are expected to be transferred from the IA by the end of 2009 to bring the IqM to full strength, and a brigade commander was assigned in September 2009 to provide the necessary leadership in establishing a small brigade headquarters at Camp Bucca.  The 1-52/14 Iraqi Army Battalion is probably transferring to the Marines to fill out the Marine Brigade.  The 1-52/14 Battalion has been receiving riverine boat training from the US Navy’s Riverine Squadron in Basrah.


Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF)


Political log-jams continue to seriously retard the growth and formation of Iraqi Special Operations Forces.  Many Iraqi politicians view this force as a potential new Republican Guard: 

  • Under PM Directive 61, signed in April 2007, the INCTF [Iraqi National Counter Terrorism Force] is independent of both the MoD and MoI [Ministry of Interior].
  • The Counter-Terrorism (CT) Law still awaits CoR [Council of Representatives] approval to establish the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) as a separate agency.  If approved, the CT Law will formalize a ministerial-level position for the CTS Director and provide appropriations and funding. The proposed CT Law was initially submitted in September 2008. After being returned to the CoM [Council of Ministers], the bill had its first reading before the CoR in July 2009. Up to three readings may be required before the CT Law is submitted to the entire CoR for a vote. The CoR’s delay in addressing the CT Law makes the PM’s ability to fund CTS problematic and is hindering maintenance and sustainment programs throughout the organization.
  • Unfortunately, a GoI hiring freeze affecting all ISF prevents INCTF from adding new ISOF soldiers to fully man the ISOF brigades. Approximately 1,000 graduates of the Assessment and Selection Course are required to fully man each of the two Brigades. Potential ISOF soldiers must be assessed, trained, and equipped before they can be integrated into the force. Given known difficulties in obtaining support from the MoD for ammunition, equipment, and pay for the trainees—as well as the time, money and throughput issues inherent in executing the three core ISWCS [Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School] courses—growing the force will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.
  • INCTF has proven its ability to produce results; however, the fact that it is currently manned at only 59% of its authorized personnel strength of 9,230 prevents the GoI from fully leveraging the outstanding capabilities and great potential of Iraqi SOF. The CTS is currently manned at 51% of its authorized strength of 649; the CTC at 51% of its authorized strength of 1,824. The 1st ISOF Brigade has 65% of its authorized strength of 4,328; the 2nd ISOF Brigade has 56% of its authorized strength of 2,429. Future growth is unpredictable due to the lack of a budget and the time required conducting specialized training.


Ministry of Interior


Ministry of Interior continues to grow and restructure.  However, the MoI faces the same budgetary and personnel issues as MoD and is 2-3 years behind the MoD in development.  MoI also has legislative problems:

  • As of October 31, 2009, there are approximately 406,000 personnel assigned to the MoI forces.
  • The MoI is conducting a comprehensive audit process to validate employee rolls and ensure there are no remaining “ghost” employees in the system.
  • Currently, the MoI remains under a hiring freeze due to 2009 budget shortfalls.
  • Additional audits at the provincial level will identify deserters, noshows, and additional inefficiencies within the personnel reporting system. Results from these audits should create hiring opportunities within the MoI. The MoI anticipates limited hiring to begin in January 2010, with approximately 8,000 hires projected in Ninewa, to address security challenges there.


Iraqi Federal Police (FP)


The Iraqi Federal Police (formerly the National Police) is the MoI’s lead paramilitary internal security force and has the wartime role of providing infantry divisions to support the Iraqi Army.  The FP is probably 5 years from completing the retraining and absorption of the provincial Emergency Police and is still lagging in support force development.  The reported addition of 30,000 Kurdish Zerevani to the structure and their training by the FP is not addressed in this report.  The total projected FP force is estimated at 15 to 16 divisions; however, only 4 are formed or forming at this time:

  • The MoI continues to develop its national and supply distribution network with the Baghdad Police College Warehouse Complex.
  • The MoI began fielding a FP Sustainment Brigade in October 2008. This brigade will move to a new logistics complex at Salman Pak to boost its capabilities. Once complete, this unit will be able to provide support to the three formed divisions and the 4th FP Division currently in force generation.
  • The Logistics Battalions organic to 1st, 3rd, and 4th FP Divisions have not been established, and only the 2nd FP Division has formed a Logistics Battalion.
  • The Iraqi FP will expand with the completion of the 3rd Division units in the northern region, and the continued force generation of the 4th Division HQs and units in the southern region. 
  • Additionally, the IFP will assume three new security force missions (the Central Bank of Iraq, Embassy Protection Force, and the Antiquities and Ruins Security Force) once force generation resumes. With these additions and consideration of budget restraints, the 2009 authorization for the FP has increased to 46,580 members.  The Central Bank is reported to be getting a 600-man security battalion.  The other two forces will be at least brigades in size.  This means that this part of the FP will be a security division in size.
  • The FP Commander plans to incorporate IPS [Iraqi Police Service – Provincial Police] Emergency Response Units within the FP as an alternative to address FP personnel shortages. [First public admission of what has been ongoing for 2 years.  The Emergency Police is being retrained and “Nationalized” into the FP and the MoI’s Emergency Response Force. There are almost 100 undertrained battalions in the provincial paramilitary Emergency Police.] 
  • The FP currently has 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. 


Department of Border Enforcement (DBE)


There has been a distinct increase in MoI’s prioritization of the DBE.  This force is planned to grow to 20 brigade equivalents including the Coastal Border Guard (5 divisions).  Like the FP, the DBE has a wartime role providing forces for external defense.  However, support and logistics components are lagging:

  • The DBE is organized into five regions, with 14 Brigades and 53 Battalions, in addition to the Coastal Border Guard, which is under the command of Region 4 located in Basrah. Eight DBE Battalions are mobile Commando Battalions that are under the command of the regional commander.  Although the DBE is currently authorized 45,000 personnel by the MoI, the force is envisioned to expand to more than 60,000 by 2012.  
  • DBE staffing is adequate to perform the basics of the border control mission. However, with the ongoing construction of border forts and annexes, the DBE saw a need for more personnel to staff these locations.  The DBE continued to address the shortfall in basic recruit training and was at nearly 100% trained in basic skills as of October 2009.
  • …three of the five Directorate of Border Enforcement (DBE) regional maintenance facilities are at an initial operational capability.


Oil Police Directorate (OP)


The OP is to completely take over the guarding of the oil infrastructure.  While the reporting suggests a large force, most of its “battalions” are currently only company-strength.  The OP is in the process of expanding to 3 regional security divisions in structure:

  • The OP has 43 static battalions and four Mobile Emergency Battalions that have personnel strengths that vary depending on the location and priority of resource. Currently, select units of the IA guard designated areas of the oil production infrastructure, with the MoI scheduled to resume full responsibility for this mission in late 2010. 


Facilities Protection Service (FPS)


The FPS is the nightmare that the MoI is inheriting.  This force was previously private militias under 27 ministries and separate departments.  Two years ago, MoI started taking over administration and pay of this 150,000-man paper force.  Within the first 4 months, over a third were removed for cause or were found to be ghost employees.  The CoR and CoM is resisting this reform because it takes their private armies away from them.  The MoI plans to reorganize this security force into 3 regional divisions:

  • 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 [Higher Judicial Council]. The law still lingers between the CoM and the CoR.


The Iraqi Security Forces continue to progress despite bureaucratic, political, and budgetary resistance.  It is unlikely that Iraq will have the ability to defend itself by the scheduled departure time of US Forces.  The major problem in this is the lagging air defense capabilities which are not expected to be capable of defending Iraq’s airspace prior to 2020.


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during January 2010.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle  is updated as of 31 January 2010.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Peshmerga partnering, structure, and reorganization.
  • Iraqi Army Engineers, EOD, and artillery.
  • Iraqi Army M1A1-equipped battalion initial fielding.
  • Iraqi Officer Academy restructuring.
  • Initial EC 635 helicopter deliveries.
  • Department of Border Enforcement and Emergency Police expansion.




Obtaining accurate open source information about the Peshmerga’s strength is difficult.  The Peshmerga has the best OPSEC in Iraq.  Press estimates and claims vary widely.  However, several details have come out and US Division-North (USD-N) confirmed that approximately 200,000 total Peshmerga is the best estimate when you include those personnel that the Kurdish Regional Government plans to pension:

  • "Sorry this is taking so long. Finding reliable sources for unclassified data has been a bit difficult. From what we've been able to research, the PUK has a force of about 100,000 peshmerga and the KDP have another force of about 100,000 peshmerga. These numbers are consistent with what has been reported by reputable sources such as UPI, STRATFOR, and LongWarJournal.  However, other sources have indicated other numbers which vary greatly between 90,000 and 370,000. Regardless, we believe the actual number of Peshmerga forces to be approximately 200,000 total."  Request for information response by Major Jeff Allen, Task Force Marne Public Affairs Officer, USD-N. 


Almost 30,000 of those Peshmerga troops are in the 2 mountain divisions transferring to the Iraqi Army.  The 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions were originally planned to be commissioned in August 2008 but, political disputes over funding has postponed their official commissioning.  These 2 divisions are probably the Kurdish forces partnering with Iraqi and US forces in the disputed regions of northern Iraq. 


Kurdish forces are also reorganizing.  According to Mahmoud al-Sangawi, Secretary General of the Peshmerga forces and member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK):  

  • "Division number 16, which protects the area extending from Khaneqin to Ridar, and division number 15, which protects everything between Ridar, Badinan and Mosul, are under the command of the Iraqi army and receive their military instructions from Baghdad. The rest of the border guard will be under the command of the regional presidency and the Kurdistan parliament. If the central government wants to use these troops for any purpose, it must obtain approval from both the parliament and the regional president."  
  • "Each division comprises 14,750 fighters. The two divisions therefore make up 29,500 fighters."   [15th and 16th Divisions]
  • "The region’s forces will not consist of divisions but of 21 brigades. I don’t have the figures and these are military secrets that shouldn’t be revealed.”


There are 30,000 Kurdish “Zerevani” paramilitary police that are reported to have transferred to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.  The 2nd class of 40 Zerevani have begun Carbinieri training with the Iraqi Federal Police.  These personnel return to train their battalions after completion of their training.   This indicates the Zerevani police are to be part of the Federal Police, providing 2 divisions to that force.


The Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement’s Region I is also a Peshmerga manned division-equivalent.  The total Peshmerga force equates to approximately 10 division equivalents:

  • Iraqi Army:  2 mountain divisions [29,500].
  • DBE Region I:  1 division equivalent [10,000-12,000].
  • Federal Police:  2 “Zerevani” divisions [30,000].
  • Kurdish Regional Border Guards:  21 brigades [50,000-70,000 including support].
  • Planned to be pensioned:  Up to  90,000 reported.


[Kurdish forces have been added to the Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle under the Federal Police, Iraqi Army, Department of Border Enforcement, and Emergency Police pages despite limited location and strength data for many components.  The Kurds have the best OPSEC in Iraq.]


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army 3rd Division’s Field Engineer Regiment (FER) completed the Unit Set Fielding program at Besmaya on 26 December 2009.  3rd FER had already existed but, was apparently never fully equipped.  This corrects that deficiency.


Besmaya Bomb Disposal School is increasing training capacity to 1,700 personnel per year or 300 per training cycle.  This capacity was only 450 per year.  This is part of the Iraqi Army’s effort to take over route-clearance and explosive ordinance disposal.


The Iraqi Army Day parade included enough towed howitzers and BM21M Grad multiple rocket launchers to indicate that the 9th Armored Division has received its full divisional artillery component.  Each brigade in the Iraqi Army is planned to have a battalion of 18 120mm mortars and 6 howitzers while the division has a regiment of two battalions, each equipped with 4 batteries of howitzers and multiple rocket launchers.


The initial fielding schedule of 120mm mortars to the Iraqi Army’s brigade field artillery battalions has been confirmed.  "When the scheduled fielding and training are completed later this year, all IA brigades will have an organic mortar capability, serving as a combat multiplier for Iraqi infantry units."  Initial issue is 9 120mm mortars per brigade, followed by an additional 9 120mm mortars and 6 howitzers per brigade.


The closure of 3 of the 4 Iraqi Army Officer Academies occurred in January.  "The Graduation of 176 2nd Lieutenants marked the last time this course will be offered at Camp Ur."  Iraqi Army officer training is consolidating to the Military Academy at Ar Rustimayah while Navy and Air Force training is shifting to their own separate academies.


The first operational mention of 5-36/9 Armored Battalion was patrolling with elements of the US 2-1 Cavalry Battalion/4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.  The 5-36/9 Armored Battalion has been training on M1A1 Abrams Tanks and its mechanized component is planned to be equipped with M1126 Stryker armored personnel carriers.  This is the first US armor equipped Iraqi Army battalion. 


Iraqi Air Force


The first 2 EC 635 helicopters have been shipped to the Iraqi Air Force from France.  According to Marco Dijkshoorn (Dutch Aviation Society/Scramble Magazine), Iraqi Registry number YI-293, an EC635T2+, was first test flown on 9 November 2009, and was shipped through Shiphol on 1 January 2010 for Iraq.  Iraqi Registry number YI-270, an EC635T2+, had its first test flight on 7 December 2009.  This indicates a delivery rate of 1 EC 635 per month.  Receipt in Iraq has not been announced yet.  24 EC 635s have been ordered with an option for 26 more.


The largest and the last Iraqi Air Force officer class graduated from Rustamiyah in January.  The Iraqis are re-opening the Air Force Academy in Tikrit in mid-2010.   The new Air Force Academy will host future Iraqi Air Force officer training.   The Iraqi Army is closing 3 of the 4 Army Academies but, the Iraqi Navy and the Iraqi Air Force are opening separate Academies.


Al Taqaddum Air Base transferred to the Iraqi Air Force in January.  This base is planned to support Iraqi Security Forces in eastern Anbar.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces


The Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) continues to establish additional “commando” battalions.  In the October 2009, there were only 8 reported “commando” battalions in the DBE, now there are 11.  Most of the DBE battalions are based in static forts.  These “commando” battalions are the mobile motorized Quick Reaction Forces in the DBE. 

  • The "5th DBE consists of border patrol, border police, customs, and two quick-reaction force battalions."  This is the first report of 2 “commando” battalions existing in DBE Region V.  It was not mentioned if this was a motorized upgrade of existing battalions or new formed battalions.  DBE Region V [Najaf/Muthanna] is 1 of the 2 smallest regions at only 2 brigades and is expected to expand in force size.
  • 2 -8/III DBE Battalion is now being reported as "commando".  This makes 3 of the 4 known battalions in 8th DBE Brigade as mobile force battalions.  4 of the identified "commando" battalions in the entire DBE are in Region III’s 2 brigades.  Yet DBE Region III is the second weakest region.  It is probable that DBE Region III [Diyala/Wasit] is building elements of a new brigade. 
  • Note:  Region II and Region IV have 4 brigades each.  Region I [KRG] has only 3 brigades but, already has enough battalions to reorganize into 4 brigades. 


The Emergency Police in Diyala has 10 emergency battalions.  This is 2 more battalions than previously identified in reporting.  Combined with the forming Federal Police brigade, this is the equivalent to a Ministry of Interior paramilitary division in Diyala province.  Eventually, all Emergency Police are to retrain and transfer to the Federal Police and MoI’s Emergency Response Force [Special Forces/SWAT].

The planned joint US, Iraqi Army, and Peshmerga partnering in the disputed areas of northern Iraq is to continue after the Iraqi elections on 7 March 2010.  This program started with a test case in northern Diyala.  There the 34/16 Peshmerga Brigade was partnered with the 4/1 Iraqi Army Brigade in the spring of 2009.  The 34/16 was the same Peshmerga brigade that was involved in the Khaniqin incident with elements of 5th Iraqi Army Division in the fall of 2008.  The Iraqi Army brought in a brigade from the elite 1st Division to replace the elements of the 5th Division involved in the dispute and to work with the Peshmerga 34/16 Brigade and a battalion of US Strykers.  The planned expansion of this program and the participating forces is starting to become apparent.


In December 2009, the Kurdish press reported the planned transfer of the Iraqi Army’s 6th Division from Baghdad to Ninawa and the 10th Division from southern Iraq to Kirkuk.  These divisions plus the brigade from 1st Iraqi Army Division in north Diyala are the probable Iraqi Army components.


It is also possible that the 3rd Federal Police Division in Mosul will participate; however, they are likely to be partnered with Kurdish Zerevani police.


To match those forces, the Peshmerga needs to provide two divisions to partner with the Iraqi Army.  While unconfirmed, these forces will probably be the 15th Mountain Division in the Ninawa province and the 16th Mountain Division in Kirkuk/Diyala provinces.  These Kurdish divisions were originally scheduled to commission in the Iraqi Army in August 2008 but, were delayed for political reasons.  While the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has not announced their addition, the US has continued to refer to this planned addition and the Kurdish Secretary General of Peshmerga Forces has stated they are under Iraqi Ministry of Defense control.  The 34/16 Peshmerga Brigade was originally planned to be assigned to the 15th Mountain Division when it commissioned in the Iraqi Army.


There are 30,000 Zervani personnel in the Peshmerga that are reported transferring to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.  Elements of these Zerevani Police have been receiving Iraqi Federal Police Carabinarie training and are likely to provide the Kurdish partner units to the Iraqi Federal Police.


US Forces will provide 1 battalion per each Iraqi Army and Peshmerga partnered brigades.  The north Diyala partner battalion is the 1-14 Cavalry Battalion of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team/2nd Infantry Division.  In Kirkuk, the reinforced 1st Brigade Combat Team of 1st Armored Division will provide the partner battalions.  In Ninawa, the reinforced 2nd Brigade Combat Team of 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) will provide the partners.


US Army Military Police battalions are likely to provide the US component to any Federal Police and Zerevani Police pairings.


By working together, these forces not only reassure the locals, they also start training the 15th Mountain Division, 16th Mountain Division, and Zerevani police for integration into the Iraqi Security Forces.


This also probably explains the reason for the planned transfer of Iraqi Army forces in the north.  You would want well trained forces to partner and it makes for a clean start since the forces do not have local connections.

  • 12th Iraqi Army Division in Kirkuk is green.  It only commissioned in November 2008 with its first two brigades and its fourth maneuver brigade only commissioned in December 2009. Replace the 12th with 10th Division from southern Iraq.  While it has had its problems, it has also been in a relatively quiet area and thus got more opportunity for advanced training.  A much better partner to work with training 16th Mountain Division and it gets both divisions away from local political connections that are problems.
  • 2nd Iraqi Army Division is not green, but, activity in Ninawa has precluded advanced training time.  When the 8/2 Iraqi Army Brigade was rotated to Anbar for 3 months of training as part of a plan to correct that, the program started and stopped with the 8/2 Brigade.  8/2 Brigade is now 15 months into its 3 month training deployment.  This indicates serious problems became apparent.  Replace with 6th Division from northeast Baghdad.  Again, it has had more advanced training time and is experienced in urban operations in Baghdad.  A much better partner to work with training 15th Mountain Division and it gets both divisions away from local political connections that are problems.
  • Notice that they did not partner the 34th Peshmerga Brigade with the Iraqi Army’s 5th Division elements in Diyala.  They moved in the 4/1 Brigade from Anbar to be the partner and are now rotating 2/1 Brigade in to replace them.  1st Division is the best in the Iraqi Army and they chose them for this role after the earlier Khanqin incident between 34th Peshmerga Brigade and elements of the 5th Division.
  • Originally the 15th Mountain Division was in the south and 16th Mountain Div was in the north of the Kurdish Region.  They were recruited from the Kurdish PUK and KDP parties’ elements of the Peshmerga.  That has been swapped around.  They are putting PUK in KDP zones and vice-versa.  Then partnering them with Iraqi Army and US forces.  Trying to break the political connections.


The transfers of 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions will bring the numbers of Kurdish personnel in the Iraqi Army closer to the target of 22 percent.  By partnering them with well trained Iraqi Army and US Forces it will facilitate training while reassuring the local populations.  It is a program that has been done successfully before in Baghdad 2007 when the US Forces, Iraqi National Police, and Iraqi Army were partnered in the “surge”.

The recent Iraqi Army Day Parade highlighted artillery developments.  The displayed field artillery indicates the initial divisional field artillery regiment has been formed.  Comments by the Iraqi Minister of Defense indicate that 2010-2011 is to have a focus in artillery and air.  This artillery upgrade was originally scheduled for 2008-2009 but, the decision to increase the number of divisions in the Iraqi Army combined with the budget crisis delayed development and fielding.


The projected structure of Iraqi indirect fire units is based on the US Army structure modified with 120mm mortars used in brigade support:

  • A 60mm mortar section of 2 tubes per company.  All fielded.
  • An 81mm mortar battery of 6 tubes per battalion.  All but 2 divisions upgraded, 2nd and 3rd Motorized Divisions in Ninawa are completing training and fielding.  Activity in Ninawa has made training difficult to schedule.
  • A field artillery battalion with three 6 tube 120mm mortar batteries and a howitzer battery.  All but 2 divisions have received at least a battery of 120mm mortars, 2nd and 3rd Motorized Divisions in Ninawa have not been noted in 120mm mortar training yet.  Only the 9th Armored Division has been noted with howitzers.  The first salvaged howitzers were noted in May 2009 with the 34/9 Armored Brigade.
  • A field artillery regiment with two battalions in each division.  Each battalion with four batteries of howitzer or multiple rocket launchers.  The 9th Armored Division is the only one of the 14 current Iraqi Army Divisions equipped with howitzers and multiple rocket launchers.  All of them are salvaged and refurbished weapons from the extensive Iraqi boneyards.
  • Corps level has not formed yet.  US corps have 1 or 2 field artillery brigades with 4-8 battalions of heavy howitzers and multiple rocket launchers.
  • The Iraqi Federal Police (FP) and Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) have a wartime role of providing divisions to support the Iraqi Army.  No indirect fire weapons have been noted in these services to date.  Ministry of Interior services have been running 2-3 years behind the Iraqi Army in development.  The Iraqi Army might form extra field artillery units to supplement these divisions in wartime.


The Iraqi Army has been building up its “artillery” from the bottom-up since 2007.  The Iraqi Army includes mortars as light field artillery. 

  • The first indirect fire weapons were the 60mm mortars fielded in 2007-2008. 
  • The first 81mm and 120mm mortars were ordered from the US and Serbia in 2008 and started arriving in the summer of 2009.  Training started on US weapons in February 2009.  Further training on Serbian versions of 81mm and 120mm mortars started in the summer of 2009.
  • The first howitzers were salvaged D30 122mm towed howitzers noted in May 2009 with the 34/9 Armored Brigade.  The first salvaged M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer was noted on display in an exercise in September 2009.  Salvaged Type 83 152mm towed howitzers and BM21M Multiple Launch Rocket Launchers (MLRS) were first noted in battalion strength in a convoy from Taji in December 2009.  The first full battery of salvaged M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers and the first salvaged M46 130mm towed howitzers were put on display in the January 2010 Army Day Parade along with the previously noted howitzers. 
  • There is an unconfirmed report from August 2009 that Iraq has bought Plamen MLRS from Serbia.  So far, none have been noted in Iraq. 


To equip the existing 14 Iraqi Army divisions would require approximately 168 MLRS; to equip the 20 planned divisions 240.  Approximately 1,200 howitzers will be needed for the planned 20 Iraqi Army divisions.  Those numbers do not include the requirements for the FP/DBE’s planned 17-20 divisions, training/reserve float, or the corps level artillery assets.  Fewer than 80 howitzers/MLRS are known to be operational in the Iraqi Army.  How many can be salvaged, how many have already been ordered [and not reported], and how many still need to be bought is undetermined. 


The Iraqi Army is pushing hard to field a credible external defense by 2012.  Field artillery is one of many requirements for that capability.  The delays caused by the need to expand the Iraqi Army, so as to deal with the internal security problem, and budget problems have delayed fielding this essential part of an external defense capability by 2 years. 


[Reference links and notes can be found in the appendixes to the Iraq Order of Battle.]



This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during December 2009.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 December 2009.  Highlights in this update include:  

  • Indications that the Peshmerga are being incorporated into the ISF;
  • weapons orders;
  • a realignment of the military academies;
  • possible transfers of Iraqi Divisions;
  • the first Iraqi Artillery Regiment forming;
  • receipt of training aircraft;
  • receipt of 2 patrol ships;
  • training of Federal Police;
  • the addition of two DBE Brigades;
  • reorganization of the Emergency Police;
  • and the first training academy for the FPS.




According to the Kurdish PUK Media: "...Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will sign during his expected visit to Kurdistan Region will sign an agreement with President Barzani to settle the issue of the Peshmerga Forces by joining them to the Iraqi defense system."


Also reported was that the spokesman of the Kurdish Region Peshmerga Forces said "according to a memorandum of understanding signed with Iraqi defense ministry, the Peshmerga forces can own helicopters and tanks just like the federal forces." Also said, "According to this memo, we buy weapons every two months under the defense ministry's knowledge. KRG ministry of Peshmerga demanded to allocate a budget for it since years. The budget was allocated, but the government in Baghdad did not carry it out. When we will take this budget, then we will sign contracts to buy weapons", Yawir added. "Due to internal threats and to protect the borders, the ministry of defense needs to buy weapons and get ready for the period that follows the American withdrawal in 2011", Yawir also said.


This indicates that the political problems with incorporating the Kurdish forces into the Iraqi Security Forces are finally being resolved and could mean that the Kurdish Region is getting its own independent corps.


Weapons Orders


The Associated Press quotes former Ukrainian defense minister and current  head of the Ukrainian parliament's security and defense committee Anatoly Grytsenko, who says that a $2.5 billion agreement with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense will involve 420 of Khariv Morozov's BTR-4 8x8 wheeled armored personnel carriers, 6 AN-32B light tactical transport planes, and repair work on 2 of Iraq's Mi-8T military helicopters.


Additional reporting indicated 10 AN-32Bs are being ordered and that the delivery of BTR-4s is to be in the next 3.5 years.  The difference in reporting on the aircraft orders probably indicates an initial order of 6 AB-32Bs with an option for 4 more.  The Iraqis regularly order this way to split the payments between fiscal years.


Other reporting also indicated possible naval purchases planned.  Distribution and composition of these purchases is still subject to speculation. 


An additional 109 Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles [Badger] were ordered with delivery by October 2010. These vehicles are primarily used for engineering route-clearance.  Iraq has already received over 600 of an order of 754 and has potential options for receiving up to 1050.


The Iraqi Ministry of Interior purchased a border surveillance system that will provide coverage for large portions of Iraq’s borders with Syria and Iran. The system is planned to be operational in June 2010 and will monitor activity along 286 kilometers of the Syrian border and 402 kilometers of the Iranian border. The system provides towers with cameras, infra-red sensors, and communication relays to alert a regional command center of border intrusions and can be upgraded to include additional sensors, such as radars or high-fidelity cameras.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army is closing 3 of its 4 Military Academies and consolidating officer training to Ar Rustimayah Academy on 15 January 2010.  The Iraqi Minister of Defense suggested to Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki that the Iraqi Army doesn’t need four military.  The Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy are opening their own separate academies.  The Kurdish Regional Government intends to convert the 2 military academies in their region to military colleges and they may be used as training centers for the 2 planned Kurdish divisions transferring to the Iraqi Army.


The Al Memona Location Command officially commissioned on 10 December. "The site, located 10 km south of Amara, will provide logistic services for the 38th and 41st Brigades of the Iraqi Army."  The new Memoma Location Command includes a “fuel facility with the capacity to store 1.5 million liters of bulk fuel, three vehicle maintenance facilities, a bakery, an ice house and five warehouses."  The 10th Iraqi Army Division has the only area that has two location commands.  This is preparation to forming a new army division in Maysan province.


There is a new Iraqi Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal School at Al Muthanna.  "The buildings are located on the federal police compound in the al-Muthanna district of Baghdad. Once the current contract for training the Iraqi EOD teams is complete, the federal police will have full use of the facility. The sharing of the facility is an example of how different Iraqi directorates and forces can work together toward the common safety and security of Iraq."


The Iraqi Operational Commands appear to have gone full circle in planned development.  "While the AOC is a temporary command, it is likely to develop into a corps command in the near future."  The Operational Commands had originally been described as an intermediate step to forming army corps.  Then they were described as joint commands parallel to the planned Iraqi Army Corps.  Now the Operational Commands are back to being the basis of the planned Iraqi Corps.  The Anbar Operational Command is the probable future headquarters for the Iraqi Army Quick Intervention Corps.  Of note, there are 7 Operational Commands and only 4 planned Iraqi Army Corps.  The remaining 3 Operational Commands will probably be used as Federal Police Corps headquarters.


There is an unconfirmed visual report of an apparent Field Artillery Battalion set of salvaged and refurbished Chinese Type 83 152mm howitzers [18] and Kraz truck mounted BM21M 122mm Multiple Rocket Launchers [4]. These weapons were seen being transported on the road heading south from Taji.  [H/T: sheytan elkebir]  Taji has an ongoing salvage and refurbishment program for vehicles and weapons.  The artillery was probably en route to the Artillery School at Besmaya.  Besmaya is also the primary location for the Unit Set Fielding program where troops are equipped and trained on their new equipment as complete battalions or brigades.  This probably represents part of the equipment for the first Divisional Field Artillery Regiment to be formed in the new Iraqi Army.  Given the centralized training for these weapons and no unit insignia on them, it is unknown which Iraqi Army Division is to get its first heavy artillery.  The most likely candidate is the 9th Armored Division which is in the process of replacing its armor with M1A1 tanks and M1126 Stryker armored personnel carriers.  The 9th Armored Division has a history of equipping this way as it was originally formed using salvaged and donated refurbished armor.


The former Baghdad Brigade was previously reported as having been re-designated the 56th Brigade.  Now it has been re-subordinated to the 6th Motorized Division.  On 22 December, 135 members of the 56/6 Brigade completed mechanized infantry courses and qualified on the M113A2 Armored Personnel Carrier at the Camp Taji Armor School.  M113A2s usually have a crew of 2 each and carry 11 infantry.  This many crew graduating indicates that the 56/6 Brigade is converting to a Combined Arms or Armored Brigade since that is crew for 6 companies of mechanized infantry.  The 56/6 Brigade has a brigade number belonging to the unformed 15th Division and could be a temporary assignment pending the formation of a new division.  This also indicates the imminent arrival of Strykers in the 9th Armored Division since most of the Iraqi Army’s M113s are assigned to that division.  As the 9th Armored Division upgrades, its older armor is being redistributed to other Iraqi Divisions.


The Kurdish press is raising alarm at a reported plan to transfer the 6th Motorized Division, now based in Baghdad, to Ninewa, and the 10th Motorized Division, based in southern Iraq, to Kirkuk.  This is probably part of a planned rotation of divisions to facilitate training and re-equipping.  By replacing the green 12th Motorized Division in Kirkuk and moving it to the quiet areas of southern Iraq where they can train and shifting either 2nd or 3rd Motorized Division to the south or Baghdad.  Since 3rd Motorized Division is planned to upgrade to armor and all of the armor training schools are located in Baghdad province, this probably means that 3rd Motorized Division is upgrading in the next 2 years. Alternatively, they may be shifting two divisions to the current 10th Motorized Division area and forming the new 15th Division and Presidential Division in Baghdad to replace the departing 6th Motorized Division.


The 12th Motorized Division has added a new battalion.  The first report of 4-47/12 Battalion being active in Kirkuk brings the division up to 13 active battalions.  The 12th Motorized Division was commissioned in November 2008 along with 2 of its 4 brigades.  Its fourth brigade commissioned in the fall of 2009.


The 1-52/14 Battalion received riverine training from the US Navy’s Riverine Squadron 3.  Elements of the 52/14 Brigade have been working with the riverine forces in Basrah and there is previous reporting that part of the brigade may transfer to the Iraqi Marines.


Iraqi Air Force


"The first two Hawker Beechcraft T-6A Texan IIs for the Iraqi Air Force departed Wichita on their delivery flight on 1 December 2009.”  On 16 December, the Iraqi Air Force celebrated the arrival of 4 T-6A training aircraft, a ground breaking for a new air traffic control tower, and the handover of facilities for an air college at Tikrit. The aircraft are the first of 15 T-6As. The new Iraqi air college will offer its first courses in January 2010.  All Iraqi Air Force Training is being relocated from Taji, Kirkuk, and Rustimayah to the new facilities at Tikrit.


While there have been no reports of Lasta 95 training aircraft in Iraq, Serbian officials are stating that deliveries have started and that the 20 Lasta 95s will all be delivered by the end of 2010.  The Times of India is reporting that Iraqi Defense Minister "Obeidi said the country would have a squadron of between 18 and 24 fighter aircraft by the end of 2011, when the US military is due to have completed its withdrawal, to support the infantry and defend Iraqi airspace."  No details are given in the article as to what type of aircraft these are.  The most likely possibilities are refurbished Mirage F1s left in France during the sanctions or used USAF F16s.


Iraqi Navy


The last 2 Italian built Patrol Ships were delivered in December.  The PS703 "Majed" and PS704 "Shimookh" ("Glory" and "Pride" in English) were delivered completing the order early.  PS703 was scheduled to deliver in December but, PS704 was scheduled to deliver in March 2010.  These vessels should arrive at Umm Qasr about the end of January 2010 after a 1 month transit from Italy.


Iraqi Federal Police


On 10 December, 2 unidentified battalions of Federal Police graduated Phase III "Carabinieri" training at Camp Dublin in Baghdad.  The last 4 battalions to graduate this 8-week advanced training course have not been identified.


Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement (DBE)


The Coastal Border Guard has expanded to a de facto brigade by adding a ground battalion to its 4 “boat groups”.  The designation of this battalion in unknown at this time and it may be a transfer from the 14th DBE Brigade vice a new formed battalion.


The Iraqi DBE has added a new brigade to its Region II forces.  The new 15th DBE Brigade in Anbar has been confirmed operational.  The DBE is expected to grow to 20 brigades.


Iraqi Emergency Police


The paramilitary elements of the Iraqi Police continue to separate from the regular police.  Iraqi Emergency Police continues to expand and re-designate its forces.  The Emergency Police has more than 90 battalions and is planned to re-designate, reorganize, retrain, and transfer from the provincial Iraqi Police to the Federal Police.  The program is progressing at a rate of 4 to 6 brigades [12-18 battalions] per year. 

  • A 7th Emergency Battalion has been identified in Anbar.  Whether this is a re-designation or a new battalion is undetermined.  This battalion is part of the Falujah Emergency Brigade.
  • The 6th Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Battalion has been identified in Bayji.  Only 4 ESUs were previously identified.  ESU is the designation used for Kurdish Paramilitary police in the Iraqi Police.  This indicates that more Kurdish elements are transferring.
  • The 2nd Emergency Brigade in Mosul has been reported.  This indicates that the seven emergency battalions in Mosul have been reorganized into 2 brigades.


Additionally, tribes in Iraq have agreed to form an Emergency Brigade(s) in response to the Iranian border dispute.  126 tribes are participating and support supporting this force, mostly from Basra, Mayssan Dhi Qar, Waset, Anbar and Diyala provinces. This force may be eventually absorbed by the DBE of the Iraqi Army.


Iraqi Facilities Protection Service


The Iraqi Facilities Protection service is finally getting an Academy.  A new FPS Academy is being built in Kut. There are more than 92,000 in FPS but no real academy. There have been 7 courses held at FOB Delta since 2004 with only 2,113 graduates.   The FPS is the least trained and least capable security service in Iraq and is being consolidated under the Ministry of Interior.  The FPS was 31 separate guard forces under 27 ministries and 4 separate departments.

DJ Elliott