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This is an update to last year’s article.  The major changes are the elimination of the previously planned new IA divisions, the start of mechanizing of 2 IA divisions, the addition of another corps-level Joint Operational Command, further indications of additional planned mechanized/armor upgrades, and indications of planned wartime redeployments.


Forward defense is Iraq’s only real option.  Too many key areas are close to the Iranian border.  However, Iraq does not have the force to successfully defend Iraq against a conventional invasion.  The ISF is trained and equipped for internal security – not external.  Iraq is fair game to any and all of its neighbors with the USF-I withdraw.  Any neighbor invading could occupy Iraq in less than 2 weeks at this point.


As depicted on the map, the forward defense planned by the Iraqi Security Forces utilizes the Total Mobilization Concept.  The Department of Border Enforcement 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, effectively done. 
  • Operational Independence (2011-2015) – Will not meet the schedule.  IA needs to be out of internal security operations by then and the FP will not 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) – Will not 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.  The first fighter squadron will not be operational until 2016-2017 and Iraq needs a minimum of 5 squadrons to provide a minimum air defense.  Iraqi officers are now talking 2024-2027 for completion of this plan. 


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.  The Iraqi Army is still re-equipping and training the 9th Armored Division for external defense, and has started to mechanize and provide howitzers to 3 other divisions.


The IA has only 14 divisions and 2 security division equivalents [President and Council].  Only 1 armored division exists and that is in M1A1/M113/BTR4 conversion training [9th Armor Division].  The new M113s and the BTR4s only started to arrive in late summer.  The 9th Armored Division upgrade is priority followed by the mechanization of 5th and 7th Divisions.  While the 155mm howitzers have been delivered, they are only 144 total.  The IA is distributing them among 3 divisions [3rd, 5th, and 9th] which indicate a planned 48 howitzers per division with 24 Multiple Rocket Launchers to fill out the field artillery.


The 14 IA divisions are planned to be 3 armored, 6 mechanized infantry, and 5 motorized infantry, plus 2 security division-equivalents.  All except 3 divisions are 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 divisions to mechanized/armor and Iraq still does not have enough tanks for the 2 mechanized divisions currently upgrading.


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 first fighters are not expected to start to deliver until 2014.  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 2022 – barring any further delays.  This also requires further development of the base support structure.  Iraq appears to have settled on F16C/D Block 52 for its primary fighter and Czech L159s for its armed jet trainers.


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 2019-2022.  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 part of the provincial 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 2017, 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”.


Ministry of Interior Aviation


Ministry of Interior Aviation is in Phase 0.  They are still trying to order their first aircraft.


Oil Police Directorate


OPD is in early Phase 1.  At this point the OPD is 4 under strength Oil Police division-equivalents.  For now, these are static forces; however, there are reports of vehicles and training that could convert them into a more capable mobile force.  However, the loss of NTM-I Caribinieri training with NATO’s withdraw will hurt their development.  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 – 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, have lost their US trainers with the USF-I withdraw.  In addition to the planned 6th FP Division and I DBE Region [Division] being manned or to be manned by the Peshmerga, there are 21 Regional Guards Brigades being organized on standard IA structure.  4 of these mountain infantry brigades are considered operational and 8 more are in various stages of training and organization.  The 21 planned Regional Guards Brigades are being formed by combining PUK and KDP smaller sized “brigades” and forming more conventional 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 5 division equivalents – only 1 properly trained/equipped.


The ISF is developing but, budget issues and politics has delayed many key components.  The planned schedules have slid to 2017 for Phase 2 [Operational Independence] and 2024-2027 for Phase 3 [Strategic Independence].  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…


Related Articles: 



Brigade OOB as of 30 November 2011 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during November 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 November 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • IA emphasizing Field Artillery; 15,600 additional IA being recruited. 
  • First An-32B delivered;  First F16s deliver in 2014-2015; Second order of F16s planned; C130Js to deliver starting 2012. 
  • Sixth PB delivered. 
  • Golden Lions to be MoI Battalion? 


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army appears to be emphasizing field artillery training and fielding.  "Every three months, training courses which last up to two months are given to Iraqi artillery troops at the military base.”  (Besmaya)  "Brigadier General Saad Mezher, in charge of the artillery troops' training, says there are over 90 types of artillery, several rocket guns and 240 mortars that are used in the training program."  Photos of this training showed BM-21M Grad Multiple Rocket Launchers and M198 155mm Towed Howitzers firing.


According to Bilady, M198 155mm Towed Howitzers, M109 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzers, M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, and M1A1 Tanks are now in service with the 9th Division.  The inclusion of M198s in this mix probably indicates a second Field Artillery Regiment is being formed.   Bilady also mentioned that the IA was adding a division’s worth [15,600] of additional personnel.  Given the current emphasis on Field Artillery and Supply, these personnel are probably intended to man the new Field Artillery Regiments forming and their support units.


Iraqi Air Force


On 14 November, "The president of security and defense committee parliamentary Hassan Sinead, that next week will see the first flight of Iraqi fighter since 2003 in the skies of the country."   On 18 November, UPI reported that "The first plane scheduled for Iraqi air defense next week was purchased for non-combat operations but retrofitted for military use."  That same day, the first of 6 ordered An-32B TRANSPORT aircraft arrived at Baghdad Airport.  Apparently, the reporting was in error and what was being delivered were the delayed unarmed transport aircraft that originally were to deliver a year ago.  While there are some differences in the reporting as to when the remaining 5 An-32Bs are to deliver, all of the reporting agrees that they will deliver by the end of 2012.


The only fighters ordered by Iraq to date are F16Cs.  "Iraq has deposited the initial payment toward the procurement of 18 F-16C Block 52 fighters in September 2011. The planes are scheduled for delivery in late 2014 or 2015. Along with the fighter aircraft Iraq also purchased various weapons including AIM-9 air-to-air missiles, GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, a logistics package and training."  Until Iraq has Fighter Squadrons [5-6 squadrons] operational, Iraq has no air defense.  Iraq plans to sign a deal for a second batch of 18 F16s by next year, plans to add to its recon aircraft, and is looking as UAVs.


While there has been some speculation that the order of 6 C130J Transports was cancelled, this appears to be false.  Lockheed Martin still says they are building them for Iraq and Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission-Air says they start delivery in 2012. 


Iraqi Navy


"The U.S. Navy has formally delivered a sixth 115-foot armored patrol boat to the Iraqi navy."  "The delivery of P-305 follows delivery and transfer of custody of P-304 and P-306 in August this year. The next coastal patrol craft is scheduled for delivery to Iraq next month."   A total of 15 of these PBs have been ordered and are to complete delivery in 2013.  [Note:  They are not “armored” vessels – no vessel built since the 1960s has had true armor.] 


Iraqi Ministry of Interior 


Iraqi press reported that "Iraq's Interior Ministry has approved Monday the formation of another battalion, to be added to the 3 emergency battalions of northern Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the Commander of Kirkuk Police stated on Tuesday.”  There was also a reference to "another company had been added to the so-called Golden Lion Forces, formed by the Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga and Kirkuk Police, who had started its training to protect leading positions." This probably means the Golden Lions are being formally commissioned as a MoI Battalion.



Brigade OOB as of 31 October 2011 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during October 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 October 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • IMoD not ready until 2020-2024; Possible Greek M60s for IA; 2-34/9 is first Tank Regiment identified training on own M1A1s; Possible 155mm ammunition sale; More Trucks?
  • ISOF expanding?
  • Reorganization of OOB.


Iraqi Army


The Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army says that Iraq is not ready. 

“General Zebari suggested that the (Ministry of Defense) will be unable to execute the full spectrum of external-defense missions until sometime between 2020 and 2024, citing (Iraqi government) funding shortfalls as the main reason for the delay,” the report said.  “Iraq will not be able to defend its own airspace until 2020, at the earliest,” Zebari told SIGIR, adding that “an army without an air force is exposed.” 

This is not news to informed sources.  The plan is for 3 phases to independent operations in 2020 and the General mentioned in 2008 that Phases 2 [2016] and 3 [2020] may be delayed for budget reasons.  2012 was a political decision – not a military one.


M60 tanks being replaced in the Hellenic Army may transfer to Iraq. 

"When Iraqi officials were asked by reporters how this difference in number is explained, they reportedly said (although it cannot be confirmed) that there is an agreement on the allocation of at least 350 M60 tanks from the stocks of the Greek Army, and that spare parts will also be delivered from the same source. As far as it is known type M60A1 tanks are withdrawn from service in the Greek Army but they are detained in storage."   

This remains unconfirmed reporting due to lack of sourcing.  It does fit for the number of tanks needed for the ongoing mechanization of 5th and 7th Divisions.  IA mechanized divisions are expected to have 5 Tank Regiments each with 35 tanks per regiment.  The first mention of M60s for the IA was in 2007 and did refer to enough to mechanize two divisions.


The first Tank Regiment equipped with IA owned M1A1 has been identified.

"Tankers from 1st Company, 2nd Regiment, 34th Brigade, 9th Army are part of the first Iraqi tank company to participate in the M1A1 Maneuver Collective Training Course, which was concluded on Sept. 28 at the Besmaya Combat Training Center.  The 15-day course is designed to train Iraqi army tank crews to work together at the platoon and company levels by increasing the crew’s competency on the vehicle, preparing them for additional arms training and helping create a self-sustaining protection force for their country."  "The first rendition of the M1A1 Maneuver Collective Training Course finished Sept. 28. 11 more companies are scheduled to go through the advanced training." 

There are 3 other Tank Regiments equipped with Iraqi M1A1s but, 6 other 9th Division Regiments have been previously reported training on US M1A1s.


Iraq is possibly buying 155mm howitzer ammunition from the US. 

"The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of 44,608 M107 155mm High Explosive Projectiles and 9,328 M485A2 155mm Illumination projectiles; also included are, M231 Propelling charges, M232A1 155mm Modular Artillery Charge System Propelling charges, M739 Fuzes, M762A1 Electronic Time Fuzes, M82 Percussion primers, M767A1 Electronic Time Fuzes, 20-foot Intermodal Containers for transporting ammunition, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support." 

This is just a start.  The known 155mm howitzers would get about 300 rounds each. However, the US is not the only possible source – this is standard NATO sized ammo.


There is a single source report that more medium tactical trucks are on the roads in Iraq.  The types mentioned are tactical in nature vice the heavy trucks needed for National Depots.  There are several possibilities for their use including:

  • Expanded Tactical Logistics.  The IA is expected to form Brigade Support Battalions and Taji/Besmaya [Baghdad area] is a logical area for training/forming these new BSBs.
  • Prime movers for Field Artillery.
  • Further motorization of the Infantry.


Iraqi Special Operations Force


The "9th Brigade, Iraqi Special Operation Forces" was mentioned in a 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division press release.  This could mean that the Regional Commando Battalions are expanding into Regional Commando Brigades.  While this could be an error, USF-I and the 2-82 AAB have declined to respond to my RFIs or issue any corrections.


Admin Note


While an overwhelming number of the votes [87 percent] were to keep the OOB organization as is - the only comments were for change.  I weight comments far more than repeated votes that do not explain why the OOB should remain organized in an incorrect/obsolete fashion.  This OOB looks forward and reflects reality as best as can be determined via open sources.


The following changes have been made to the OOB structure/pages:

  • Page 2 is now Armor Divisions (Existing, converting, or planned).
  • Page 3 is now Mechanized Divisions (Existing, converting, or planned).
  • Page 4 is now Planned Heavy Divisions (undetermined whether Armor or Mech).
  • Page 5 is now Infantry and Motorized Infantry Divisions.
  • Page 6 remains all aviation [IqAF, AAC, MoI, and KRG].
  • Page 9 has been modified to reflect which major ISF formations are subordinate and reordered into size groupings.
  • Page 11 has had the Emergency Police added.
  • Page 12 has had the Kurdish Regional Guards removed.
  • Page 13 is now the Oil Police Directorate
  • Page 14 is now the Kurdish Regional Guards except the aviation.

As units change status, the OOB will change accordingly.  For future reference, I weight comments as worth 50 votes each.  If you wish to be heard, you have to speak…


Brigade OOB as of 30 September 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during September 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 September 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Final M1A1 Tanks arrive; Southern Iraq Iranian-border regions reinforced; Generals transferred.
  • IqAF not ready; Pilot training; Down-payment on 18 F16s.


Iraqi Army


"The final shipment of M1A1 Abrams tanks, purchased by the Iraqi government, arrived at Besmaya Combat Training Center mid-August."   The IA Tank Regiments are not going to a Combined Arms Structure.  Instead they are going to 3 smaller companies of 11 tanks each.  There will probably be a mechanized company and a self-propelled mortar battery to round out the battalion structure.


There are unconfirmed reports of elements of the 7th Division in Maysan province and a brigade of the 11th Division [45/11 Brigade] in Wassit province.   This could be a temporary reinforcement of these provinces bordering Iran or could indicate a reorganization and reinforcement of the Iranian-border regions in the south.  The Anbar based 7th Division is regularly used as a strategic reserve force to reinforce anywhere as needed but, the 11th Division has never deployed out of Bagdad province since it was formed.


There have been several senior officers transferred in September.  All of these transfers appear to be promotions although it could be argued that a transfer to IMoD is not:

  • Commander of the 17th Division, Major-General Ali al-Mefarjy, to replace the Commander of the 2nd Division, based in Mosul.  [2nd Division is a more important command.]
  • Major-General Bassim al-Ta’e, the Commander of the 1st Division, to replace General Hassan Karim Khudier, as Commander of Ninewa Operations.  [NiOC is a Corps-level joint command.]
  • Commander of Ninewa’s Operations, General Hassan Karim to the Defense Ministry.
  • Commander of the 2nd Division, Major-General, Nasser Ahmed al-Ghannam to Baghdad’s Rusafa Operations Command.  [RAC is a Corps-level joint command.]


Iraqi Aviation


"Iraqi Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Anwar Hamad Amin has said that the force is still young and that it would take years of training and huge investments, which are currently unavailable, before it will be capable of defending Iraqi skies.  He said that while the decision on protecting the skies is political, from a technical viewpoint Iraq needs the Americans to help.  This statement contradicts an earlier statement by Iraqi Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Nassif al-Ibadi that the protection of Iraqi skies will be entirely in the hands of Iraqis and that no Americans would be involved. Nassif said that a group of airmen are currently in the U.S. for training to operate the 18 F16 fighter jets that Iraq has purchased from the U.S.  Iraq would like to purchase as many as 96 F16s by 2020 ."   


This is consistent with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense [IMoD] position and plans since 2006.  Iraq will be dependent on the US for air defense until they have at least 4 squadrons [72 fighters] and a proper radar direction system operational.


US and IMoD agree that the IqAF is years from having a real air defense.  "At the moment, only 10 Iraqi fighter pilots are training in Iraq and the United States. It takes about two years of schooling to train a U.S. fighter pilot as a basic wingman."   Normal squadron manning is 1.5-2 pilots per fighter to allow for pilot down times after they are trained.  It takes at least 2 years of experience for a basic wingman to be considered fully qualified.


After years of talking, the GoI finally made a down payment on 18 F16s  "Any deal would be worth billions of dollars and take years to implement, as it would require the manufacture of the aircraft and the training of Iraqi pilots."  So far, no contract has actually been announced.  The earliest that these 18 fighters could be delivered would be 2013.  The earliest that these first fighter aircraft would be operationally trained would be in 2015-2016.  The IqAF eventually wants 96 F16s [5 squadrons].


Admin Note:   I’m considering reorganizing the OOB pages.  Please provide opinions.


Brigade OOB as of 31 August 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during August 2011.  The article Iraqi Armor Armor Status August 2011  was published separately and will not be addressed here.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 August 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • 4 more Regional Guards Brigades; Manila Training Center transferred to Kurdish Regional Guards; Regional Guards Brigades in north Diyala working with IA and US forces.
  • M1A1 tanks completing delivery; Howitzer deliveries; 10th Iraqi Army All Inclusive Training; Logistics increase in south; additional ILAV purchases; T72 tank and Mi-17 helicopter refurbishment by Czech? 
  • Negotiations for L159s Jet Trainers and F16 Fighters; An-32 Transport delivery still hung-up. 
  • First Dry-Docking; Patrol Boats 304 & 306 accepted. 
  • Oil Police Training.




A second set of Peshmerga brigades are being reorganized into 4 more Regional Guards Brigades [RGBs].  "There are a total of eight RGBs in the Kurdistan Regional Government.”   21 RGBs were planned before the cancellation of the two IA “Mountain” Divisions.  At least 12 RGBs are authorized/funded by the Kurdish Regional Government at this point.  Training of these RGBs at the Manila Training Center near Chamchamal, Iraq, transferred to the Kurdish Regional Guard on 4 August.


During August, the Iraqi and Kurdish press played up the deployment of elements of 2 RGBs to north Diyala.  The reporting was confused and denials were made by the Kurdish Regional Government.  What actually happened is that elements of 2 RGBs deployed to north Diyala and partnered with Iraqi Army plus US Forces-Iraq.  They acted as coordinated reinforcements – not as opponents to Iraqi Security Forces.


Iraqi Army


Iraq has 135 of 140 M-1A1 tanks as of 15 August.  The Iraqi army now also has 24 M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzers and 80 M198 155mm towed howitzers.  “But their ability to integrate the effects of artillery, armor, attack aviation with infantry against a conventional force is really at the beginning stages,” according to Major General Buchanan. “This will take them some years to develop.” 


Iraqi Al Sumaria News has apparently confused the M109s and the M198s in their reporting of the interview and thought they were all self-propelled howitzers.  According to 1LT Joseph Larrew, Battle Captain, Media Operations Center, US Embassy-Baghdad: 

"The transcript is not available for public use, but we can tell you that 24 M109A5 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzers and 66 M198 155mm Towed Howitzers were purchased for the Iraqi Army. The Government of Iraq purchased an additional 54 M198 155mm Towed Howitzers for a total of 120 M198s."


The 10th Division’s All Inclusive Training [Tadreeb al Shamil] program is now being run entirely by the Iraqi Army.  This is the training program started in late 2010 to begin training the Iraqi Army in external defense.    The Iraqi Army’s 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th Divisions are participating and the 8th Division has arranged its own version of the trainingwith US Forces.


Iraqi logistics facilities in the south appear to be expanding. 

"The Iraqi army will take over newly constructed supply warehouses in a few months at two locations in southern Iraq. But before the personnel turn on the lights and begin working, they need some visual assistance.  Members of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and the U.S. Air Force’s Echelon Above Division – Advising Team provided members of the Iraqi partnering force with a tour of a fully-operational supply support activity facility July 30."   

This could be part of establishing a Level 3 [Corps] National Depot [Sustainment Brigade] in the south.


"BAE Systems, Land & Armaments in York, PA receives a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for 6 ILAV troop carriers; 3 Route Clearance ILAVs with robotic arms attached up front; and 1 option and 1 lot of interrogator arm repair kits for 44 damaged vehicles in the field.”

The ILAV is a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected [MRAP/light armored personnel carrier] used by the Iraqi Army for clearing Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs/mines].


It is possible that Iraq is acquiring additional T72 tanks from Europe.  In the Iraqi-Czech Oil for aircraft negotiations reported, it is also mentioned that refurbishing T72 tanks and Mi17s helicopters may be part of the deal.   The Iraqi Army is short approximately 350-370 tanks needed for the mechanization of the 5th and 7th Divisions.


Iraqi Aviation


While no new aircraft purchases have been finalized, negotiations continue.  A possible Iraqi-Czech Oil for aircraft deal is being negotiated.  Either 24 or 36 L159 Armed Jet Trainers are involved in this negotiation.


An F16 deal for 18 or 36 fighters continues to be negotiated.   No actual contract has been signed.  It is hoped that a contract will be finalized early next year.


The delivery of AN-32 transports remains hung-up.  The first 3 were originally to have delivered last year but, the Iraqis refused them because the Ukrainians had used old parts and engines in violation of the contract.


Iraqi Navy


The Iraqi Navy conducted its first dry-docking on 4 August.  This is a major first step in upper level maintenance of its vessels.


Patrol Boats 304 and 306 left Houston, Texas in June, arriving at Umm Qasr, Iraq on 7 August and accepted on 13 August.   

"The new vessels raise the Iraqi navy’s patrol boat force to five of 12 ordered. The remaining Swift boats are expected to arrive in Iraq before 2013."


Iraqi Ministry of Interior


The Iraqi Oil Police Directorate continues to receive training similar to the Federal Police from NATO Training Mission-I [NTM-I].

"Oil Police recruits undergo a seven week basic course taught by the Carabinieri Gendarmerie Training Unit that expands upon the current NTM-I Federal Police Training Program, said Di Rosalia. Twenty courses are taught in the duration of the course, said Lt. Augusto Sorvillo, commander of the Carabinieri tactical training team at Camp Dublin. “Some of the topics covered in the specialized course include basic land navigation, topography, oil infrastructure technology, weapons skills, self defense, crime scene preservation and surveillance procedures,” said Sorvillo."  "By the end of August the Iraqi Oil Police will complete its fifth cycle. At this time, approximately 1,000 oil police have been trained." 


Iraqi Army divisions upgrading.  IA divisions upgrading to armor/mechanized are in red.  Orange indicates planned armor/mechanized upgrade.  Green indicates no noted or known plans for armor/mechanized upgrade. 


A pattern has started to develop in the armor and mechanization of Iraqi Army divisions.  As the 9th Armored Division upgrades to M1A1 tanks, M113 and BTR4 armored personnel carriers, the older armor is transferred to other divisions.  This has established a pattern of 3 sets of 3 divisions [9 total divisions] planned for upgrade and has identified the probable sequencing of the upgrades.  However, there are several key items still missing – only the major items will be addressed.


Based on the absence of orders for key weapons and the time needed to train/reorganize, the IA is 10-15 years from reaching its planned structure. The IA has a long way to go in upgrading to a viable force to defend Iraq from external enemies.


Who’s upgrading to Mechanized or Armored?


The 3 divisions with the first priority for upgrade are the 9th Armored Division, followed by the 5th Division, then the 7th Division.  5th and 7th Divisions are reported to be training for the receipt of M113s and are to be mechanized divisions.  What tanks are to be used for this upgrade are not known.  The T55 equipped tank regiments are the only tanks handed down from 9th Armored Division and they did not go to either of these divisions.


In the second set of three divisions are the divisions with old armor in more than one brigade.  These are the 6th Division followed by the 3rd and 11th Divisions.  The 6th Division has 2 BMP1 equipped battalions in 2 different brigades and has 2 battalions trained on M113s in a third brigade.  The 3rd Division has a T55 equipped tank regiment in 1 brigade and a M113 equipped mechanized battalion in another brigade.  The 11th Division has a BMP1 equipped mechanized battalion in one brigade and a MTLB equipped mechanized battalion in another brigade.   [Regiment is the same as battalion in IA usage.]


The third priority of upgrades appears to be the 3 divisions with only 1 battalion of tracked armor so far.  These are the 14th Division with a T55 equipped tank regiment from 9th Armored Division; the 8th Division with a BMP1 equipped mechanized battalion from 9th Armored Division, and the 12th Division which is reported to be getting a tank regiment.  The source of those tanks is unknown.


A tenth division cannot be excluded from this estimate despite no signs of armor.  The 10th Division is located in an area that should have a mechanized division.  It may be too far down the priority list to receive upgrades so far.


Where are the tanks?


One of the major missing components for this upgrade is tanks.  An IA tank/armored division should have 7 tank regiments [245 tanks].  An IA mechanized division should have 5 tank regiments [175 tanks].  The entire IA will only have 10 equipped tank regiments when the last of the order of 140 M1A1s arrive next month.


The 4 T72 and 4 M1A1 equipped tank regiments are still reported in the 9th Armored Division.  The 2 T55 equipped tank regiments were handed down to 3rd and 14th Divisions.  This indicates that the IA plans to acquire 350 more tanks soon to mechanize the 5th and 7th Divisions.  There are no reported orders of additional tanks.  Even the option for an additional 140 M1A1s [4 tank regiments] has not been reported as implemented.


Where are the howitzers?


Field artillery is required for all IA divisions.  Iraqi divisions require 72 howitzers or multiple-rocket launchers each.  While many old howitzers have been put on display – they have not been seen to actually fire.  They are estimated to be for training, show, and drill purposes only.


The 24 M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzers transferred from the US are in the 9th Armored Division.  The 40 delivered of 120 ordered M198 towed 155mm howitzers from the US have shown up in 5th and 3rd or 2nd Divisions.  There are no reported orders of additional field artillery at this time.


Where are the Brigade Support Battalions?


While you can get away without brigade support battalions for infantry in a counter-insurgency role – they are necessary support for motorized, mechanized, and armored brigades.  Only the 9th Armored Division and Iraqi Special Operations Force have BSBs so far.  There are indications that 14th Division is preparing to break up its 14th “Provisional” Motor Transport Regiment as cadre for the 4 BSBs and the Maintenance Battalion needed.  No signs of this type of upgrade in any other divisions at this time.


Where are the additional Engineers?


While light infantry divisions normally have only 1 engineering battalion – heavy divisions normally have a brigade of engineers.  The 9th Armored Division has started to form the 9th Bridging Regiment to go with its 9th Field Engineer Regiment.  No other division has been reported upgrading this component.


Is there a possible corps structure forming?


While currently denied by USF-I PAO, there are distinct signs that the IA is starting to organize its divisions into 4-5 corps as was announced as planned in 2008.  As the IA becomes more mechanized, armored, and motorized – corps level sustainment brigades become essential – especially for areas away from the Taji army level depots.  Recent reporting of logistics upgrades at Nasariyah indicate that a corps-level sustainment brigade is being established there and that 10th Division HQ/support is moving to Amarah and Memona.  The 4 IA corps’ appear to be being organized into 3 divisions each:  2 [eventual] heavy divisions and an infantry division [motorized?] in each peacetime IA corps.


The infantry divisions will probably be motorized using handed down vehicles from upgraded heavy divisions and/or new acquired MRAPs.  There are reports indicating possible light armored personnel carrier purchases from Turkey and Poland.


Nasariyah/Ali Base support structure appears to be expanding and would be the logical location for a southern corps sustainment brigade.  Bayji’s Support Battalion may be the initial component of the western corps sustainment brigade.  Taji and Balad are also likely sites for additional corps sustainment brigades.  The relocation activities at Taji could be making room for a corps sustainment brigade.  Balad is starting to transfer to Iraq use and would be a logical site for a corps sustainment brigade.


The 9th Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division have been used as IA/IGFC Strategic Reserve and will probably not be assigned to specific IA corps.  Of note, the 1st Division may be receiving airborne/airmobile training from the US 2/82 Brigade.




The IA plans to be heavy.  The IA provides the heavy divisions in a war but, not all of the combat forces.  The Kurdish Regional Border Guards, Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement, Iraqi Federal Police, and Iraqi Marines provide additional infantry forces in wartime:

  • KRBG:  4-6 division equivalents. 
  • DBE:  5 division equivalents. 
  • FP:  4 divisions with 2 more forming.  Projected to 10-14 divisions planned. 
  • Marines:  1 brigade.  1 division probably planned.


The IA has a long way to go in upgrading to a viable force to defend Iraq from external enemies.  Based on the absence of orders for key weapons and the time needed to train/reorganize, the IA is 10-15 years from reaching its planned structure.



Iraqi Order of Battle [updated monthly]

Is the Iraqi 7th Division Mechanizing?

Iraqi Logistics - The Missing Links

The Missing Links – A Realistic Appraisal of the Iraqi Army

Iraqi Security Force Update May 2011 

Iraqi Security Force Update July 2011

Iraqi Security Force Update August 2011


Brigade OOB as of 31 July 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during July 2011.  The Missing Links – A Realistic Appraisal of the Iraqi Army” was published separately and will not be addressed here.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 July 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Locations of 4th and 18th RGB; Golden Lions has new base.
  • Najaf turned over to IA; IA taking over route-clearance in Kirkuk; Route-clearance training in Basrah; New Tank Regiment planned for Kirkuk; Second shipment of BTR-4s by end-year; Kipri MRAPs offered to Iraq; Mortar training for IA; Update on M1A1, M109A5, M198, and M113 deliveries; 700 tanks claimed by IMoD?
  • F16 negotiations; Possible I-Hawks.
  • Patrol Boats P304 and P306 to deliver in August.
  • Commando training for Abu Risha IFP Brigade.




The 4th Regional Guards Brigade was reported training near Chuar-Qurna village.  The 4th RGB was previously located in Kirkuk province.  The first location for the 18th RGB was reported in Kurdistan’s Balak Area.


The Joint-Combined Kurdish/Iraqi IA/IP/IFP/KRG "Golden Lions” has expanded to a Battalion and has a new base at Contingency Operating Site Warrior.


Iraqi Army


The last US forces departed Najaf Province and handed off to the IA’s 8th Division.  This is the second province to turn over to the IA this summer.  Karbala Province was the first.


The IA is taking over route-clearance operations in Kirkuk.  "Iraqi army soldiers of 12th Field Engineer Regiment graduated a route clearance training course during a ceremony at the K1 Training Center, Kirkuk province, Iraq, July 2."


14th Field Engineer Regiment in Basrah is receiving route-clearance training on the ILAV with claw.  This is the first report of 14 Division receiving this training.


K1 turned over to the IA and is to eventually host a Tank Regiment – probably in the 15th Brigade.  “This base will eventually be turned over from Location Command to the 12th Iraqi Army Division,” said Hall. “The 12th IA is planning on using the K1 facility to support a new tank regiment that is forming. The regiment is not on the ground yet, but it is in the working for the future.”  Either all of the IA infantry divisions are getting a heavy brigade or the 12th Division is to be a heavy division.  There have been armored/mech planned upgrades, elements, and/or training in 9 of the 14 IA divisions to date:  3rd, 5th Mech, 6th, 7th Mech, 8th, 9th Armored, 11th, 12th, and 14th.


Ukrainians are claiming that "The second shipment of BTR-4 infantry combat vehicles to Iraq will be done on time despite problems in the delivery of parts.” “The second shipment, 62 infantry combat vehicles, will be sent by the end of the year.”


Kirpi MRAPs offered to Iraq.  "Turkey’s BMC company will soon export to Iraq and Afghanistan Kirpi, its mine resistant, ambush protected, armored vehicle, which the Turkish Armed Forces also uses."  No actual sale has been made.


While the US is starting to turn over external training to the IA, the IA is still requesting additional US training.  "Brig. Gen. Abdul Amir, commander of the 10th IA Division, was so pleased with the operation that he said he would take over mortar capability in the future, and requested a training plan that builds Iraqi army mortar skills to the point where the Iraqis conduct all fire missions and U.S. forces only provide over watch."


In response to an RFI on Iraqi tanks, 1LT Joseph Larrew, Battle Captain, Media Operations Center, US Embassy-Baghdad provided the following update on US equipment deliveries:

“As of July 13, 2011: 

  • 123 of 140 M1A1s have arrived at COS Hammer, 120 are deprocessed and 61 have been transferred to the IA. 12 more M1A1s will arrive at Umm Qasr Port on 24JUL. 
  • All 24 M109A5 self-propelled Howitzers have been de-processed and 13 are ready for issue and training. 
  • 40 of the 120 M198 Towed Howitzers delivered to Taji. 23 are ready to be transferred to IA and 4 have been issued to IA. 
  • M113 Family of Vehicle (FOV) Armored Personnel Carriers: First 56 of 1026 are scheduled to arrive at Umm Qasr on 23 July. Delivery of 50 more is scheduled for mid August 2011. Deprocessing and handover of all M113 will be completed by March 2012.”


When you factor in training time after issue, this equipment should be in operational combat capable formations in 12-18 months.  The M1A1 tanks and M109A4 self-propelled Howitzers are going to 9th Armored Division.  The M198 Howitzers have been appearing in 5th and 2nd or 3rd Division.  The M113s are reported going to 9th Armored, 5th Mech, and 7th Mech Divisions plus the 56/6 (Baghdad) Brigade.


An Investors Iraq report claimed that the IMoD report to Parliament listed 700 tanks in the IA.  "The report stated that the army had advanced 700 tanks, including 145 tanks, "Abrams" combat, and 60 helicopters.”  The problem with this report is that Iraq has less than half that number of tanks.  These missing 350 tanks are a major missing component for the planned mechanization of 5th and 7th Divisions.  There are several possible answers to why the Iraqi Ministry of Defense would claim 700 tanks:

  • One unconfirmed claim by a commenter (Jack winters 07/26/2011 02:55:38) is that the IMoD report included 350 Kurdish held T55/T62 tanks acquired in 2003.  The problem with this is that the KRG is reported to have only 81 operational tanks organized into 2 Tank Battalions and an Independent Tank Company.  Fewer than 10 percent of the 2,300 tanks from the old IA are salvageable – most were demolished by MNF to prevent enemy forces from returning them to action during the invasion of 2003.  It is unlikely that there are 350 additional tanks left in Iraq [including the KRG] that can be salvaged.
  • Another possibility is that the IA is about to take delivery of 350 tanks from another source.  In April 2007, the Commander of IGFC is reported to have stated that “Two more divisions should become operational in June, and their M60 main battle tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers and other mostly U.S.- and Western-built heavy weapons will arrive in the second half of the year.”  It is possible that this was a mis-translation.  He might have meant “second phase” instead of “second half of the year”.  In 2007 the M60 tanks, M113s, and heavy weapons never appeared.  Phase 2 of IMoD’s planned upgrades started this year and M113s plus heavy weapons [155mm howitzers] are now arriving.  Additionally, the Hellenic Army is disposing of 361 M60A1s and this could be the source to these tanks.
  • The Ukrainians were hoping to sell tanks to the IA to go with the BTR4s.  Given the problems with the BTR4 and An32 buys, this is unlikely – but cannot be excluded.
  • The Iraqis could be buying tanks from another non-US source that hasn’t leaked yet.  US purchases require advanced notices to Congress and there have been no new notices posted.


Iraqi Aviation


There have been reports of offers of Mirage 2000, Typhoon, Hawk, Korean T50 aircraft through the month.  After repeated reports that Iraq was restarting negotiations to buy 36 F16 fighters to be based at Balad and Ali Air Bases, an Iraqi Government spokesman denied it, only to have the Prime Minister announce the negotiations.  Surplus money from oil experts is to be spent for these 36 F16 aircraft.  F16 negotiations and possible fighter purchases have been on-again/off-again for 4 years.  No contract(s) has been signed for any of these aircraft so far.


There is an unconfirmed report from a commenter (Jack winters 07/25/2011 03:24:16) that Iraq is looking at buying I-Hawk surface-to-air missiles as part of its air defense.


Iraqi Navy


In June, patrol boats P304 and P306 were loaded for shipping to Iraq.  According to 1LT Joseph Larrew, Battle Captain, Media Operations Center, US Embassy-Baghdad:  "PB 305 was actually delayed in construction and is now scheduled to arrive early September, however, PB 304 and 306 are scheduled to arrive in August."


Iraqi Ministry of Interior


The Abu Risha Federal Police Brigade was reported receiving “commando” training at Ramadi.  This is the first time in over a year that this IFP Brigade has been mentioned.  Commando training and calling them IP could indicate they are transferring to the MoI Emergency Response Force.

IA wire-July 2011

Iraqi Line Battalions as of July 2011.  Only the tank and BTR4 equipped battalions have anti-tank capabilities.


[I’m supposed to be working on a novel but, some fantasyland comments about the Iraqi Army have intruded into my science fiction writing.]


Recently a comment was made that the Iraqi Army is the best Arab army in the Mid-East.  That it had been trained by the US in Corps- and Division- level operations and thus was better than the rest of the Arab armies since they only effectively operate at Brigade-level.  This is pure fantasy – the IA doesn’t have Corps and only started expanding divisional communications this year.  Even the Iraqi Ministry of Defense never planned on the Iraqi Army being at that level of capabilities prior to 2020.


There are major differences between counter-insurgency operations and external security.  Low-intensity conflict [AKA COIN] is infantry- and intelligence-centric.  Combined Arms capabilities and large-scale unit operations, while useful, are not essential to COIN.  Armor, air defense, and artillery are not major players in COIN.  In high intensity conflict [AKA conventional warfare] armor, air, and artillery [etc] operating as large-scale combined arms make or break you.  The IA is only equipped and trained as a COIN force at this time.


The Iraqi Security Forces are on a planned development schedule.  Phase 1 is complete but, according to the Iraqi Minister of Defense, Phase 2 and 3 may be delayed in completion.


Phase 1 – Tactical Independence [2006-2010].

  • This is internal security only [COIN]. 
  • The Iraqi Army in the lead performing police functions.


Phase 2 – Operational Independence [2011-2015]. 

  • This is the beginning of the Iraqi Army training and transitioning to external security while the Federal Police start to take over internal security. 
  • Four IA Divisions [3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th] started rotating battalions through US lead external security training in November 2010.  There are 14 divisions in the IA.  18-20 are planned.
  • The 8th IA Division was unofficially added to this external training in February 2011.
  • The 9th Division is still in the process of training on the new equipment [M1A1s/M113s/BTR4s/M109s/etc] being received and is not yet in this external defense program.
  • The IA is receiving additional armor, standing up its first howitzer equipped formations, its first chemical defense battalion, its first divisional signals battalions, additional engineers, and is mechanizing the 5th Division. ·         The FP is adding one or two divisions to expand its internal security capacity this year.
  • The Iraqi Air Force was going to buy F16s but, that money was diverted to welfare programs.  Iraq has no air defense at this time.
  • The helicopter assets of the Iraqi Air Force have been transferred to the IA, reducing the IqAF to a propeller-driven training, recon, and transport wing [7 squadrons].


Phase 3 – Strategic Independence [2016-2020].

  • This is the period that the IA plans to be external security with the Federal Police training on its secondary role as IA reserve infantry.  Local police taking over the lead for internal security with FP in over-watch.
  • During this period, the IqAF was expected to have a legit air defense.  Repeated delays in purchasing jet trainers and fighters make this goal unlikely to be met.


To some people, the IA seems large.  Taken in context of their neighbors strengths, they are weak.  Iran, Syria, and Turkey individually out-number and out-gun the IA in every measurable category.  Jordan, Saudi, and Kuwait individually out-number and out-gun the IA in all categories except infantry.  The smallest air force bordering Iraq has 100 jets - Iraq has none.  Kuwait, with the equivalent of only a reinforced Armored Division for an army, has more Tanks, MICVs, APCs, Howitzers, etc. than Iraq has.  Also note that half of these bordering countries are known to have chemical weapons. 


[I only gave the IA 2 weeks in a war with Iran’s 48 Army and RG divisions because of Iranian logistical deficiencies.]


This is a list of major deficiencies in the IA by unit-size.  It is not all-inclusive.  The FP and DBE are 5 years behind the IA in development – they would require their own book to list their problems:



  • No chemical defense suits or training.
  • No Air Defense [MANPADS].



  • No chemical defense.
  • No air defense.
  • No Anti-Tank capacity except in the few Tank Regiments [10 battalions] and the BTR4 equipping Commando Battalions [~10].  [RPGs are platoon and squad level.]



  • No chemical defense.  Each brigade should have a chemical defense company.
  • No air defense.  Each brigade should have an air defense battery.
  • No anti-tank capacity.  Each brigade should have an anti-tank company at minimum.
  • Most have no howitzers.  Operational howitzers only started fielding this year.  Each brigade is to have a field artillery battalion with 18 120mm mortars and 6 155mm howitzers.  [US field artillery battalions have all howitzers/MLRS.]
  • Most do not have Brigade Support Battalions.  Only the 6 brigades of the 9th Division and ISOF have Level 1 maintenance support.  This is part of the reason why half of the IA’s HMMWVs are inoperable.



  • No chemical defense.  The first IA chemical defense regiment [battalion] formed this year.  Each division should have a chemical defense battalion.
  • Most do not have adequate communications.  Only 3 of the divisions have commissioned signals battalions this year.
  • While each division has an Engineer Regiment [battalion], the heavy divisions will require a brigade.  Only one division is expanding its engineers.
  • No air defense.  Each division should have an air defense battalion.
  • Limited anti-tank capacity.  Only just starting to equip the divisional commando battalions with BTR4/Barrier ATGW.
  • Most divisions have no howitzers.  Operational howitzers only started fielding this year in 2 battalions.  Each division is to have 2-3 field artillery battalions [regiments] with 18-24 155mm howitzers or MLRs each.  [US field artillery battalions have all howitzers/MLRS.]
  • Most divisions do not have Maintenance Battalions.  Only the 9th Division has a maintenance battalion.  Most level 1, 2, or 3 maintenance support has to be done at the level 4 facilities [Taji].


  • Non-existent.  There should be 4-5 corps in the IA.
  • While the Joint Operational Commands can provide corps-level command and control, most do not have adequate communications and do not provide combat and logistics support.
  • No air defense.  Corps’ normally have Air Defense Brigades.
  • No combat reserve.  Corps’ normally have 1-2 independent line brigades to commit to key areas.
  • No rear-area security.  1-2 Military Police or infantry brigades are normally assigned to provide convoy security and patrol the rear-areas of each corps.
  • No artillery.  Corps’ normally have 1-2 Field Artillery Brigades each to provide heavy fire-support.
  • No Level 3 support.  No Sustainment Brigades.  The absence of Level 1 and 3 maintenance and logistical support is why the IA has large numbers of vehicles inoperable and fuel shortages when only in a low-intensity conflict.  In a conventional war, High-Intensity Conflict, the IA would collapse.



  • IGFC can provide army-level command and control, logistics and maintenance but, it is overwhelmed having to fill the role of both Army and 4 corps’ worth of support.
  • Iraqi supply is still a pull system where you request support/supplies and then wait.  They need to correct that.  The US Army uses a push system where supply needs are anticipated by higher level and provided without request.
  • While the APC component is progressing, the IA is not acquiring sufficient tanks and anti-tank capabilities to go with them.  The IA needs to purchase at least an additional 400-600 tanks to operate with the 420 BTR4 and over 600 M113A2s APCs that are starting to arrive.
  • The number of howitzers procured so far only equips 2 of the 14 existing divisions.  The IA needs enough for all its forces including corps’ level artillery brigades, plus enough to support the FP and DBE in their wartime infantry roles.
  • Air defense does not exist at any level.
  • Most divisions have no anti-tank capability beyond squad-level RPGs.



  • No air defense.  Who cares how bad your neighbor’s air force is when you have nothing to oppose it with…
  • Still standing up Sector Operations Centers so they can watch the enemy bomb them unopposed.
  • No jets.  Not even trainers.  Until they have the aircraft and support equipment, they can’t train on them.  It takes 3-5 years of training before a fighter squadron is combat effective after it is equipped.  You can’t train on what you don’t have.  Iraq needs a minimum of 5 operational fighter squadrons – preferably 10.



  • No air or air defense.
  • Capable of inshore work but, the lack of missile capability makes them vulnerable in engagements away from the radar-seeker shadow of the coast.

The IA is on par with the ROK Army in June 1950 – missing major capabilities and only capable of internal security, but without the terrain advantages of Korea.  The Iraqi Army is progressing almost on schedule.  But it is not ready to stand alone and never was planned to stand alone at this time.  2012 was a political date – not a realistic one 


Related:  ISF OOB


Brigade OOB as of 30 June 2011 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during June 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 June 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Golden Lions are now a battalion-sized force.
  • 5th Division mechanizing; The first 2 divisional artillery battalions may have been identified receiving M198 training; The fifth cycle of battalion training in external defense has completed; 14th Division’s logistics force may be reorganizing.
  • Oil-for-Aircraft deal for Korean jet trainers?;  4 Mi-171s received; Contract for maintenance and support may be made through US FMS.




The “Golden Lions” Combined Security Force at Kirkuk is now a battalion-sized force.  Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Kurdish Security Forces, and American Soldiers established the CSF in 2009 as a combined unit with the mission of working together to provide security in the area surrounding Kirkuk City.  “In 2009 you established a company-sized formation,” said Col. Michael Pappal, commander, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, during his remarks. “Today, we are all here, witnessing your growth from a company to a battalion under American advisement, not control.”


The Kurdish 1st Regional Guards Brigade continues to train at Kirkuk.


Iraqi Army


The Iraqi Army’s 5th Division is mechanizing.  “Iraqi army soldiers selected from four brigades of 5th IA Division conducted operator training on the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier vehicle with assistance from U.S. soldiers from 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Kirkush Military Training Base, Iraq, April 27. During the M113 training cycle, focused on training the IA on becoming master drivers and vehicle maintenance specialists, students learned basic operating procedures and vehicle maneuvering skills, as well as troubleshooting vehicle malfunctions.”  The tanks to go with the M113s have not been identified but, they are probably T72s from the being replaced with M1A1s in the 9th Division.


The first Iraqi Army divisional artillery has been identified.  “Iraqi army soldiers assigned to 5th IA Division’s newly formed 105th Field Artillery Regiment practiced crew drills on their M198 155mm howitzers at Kirkush Military Training Base, Iraq, May 9.  U.S. soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division instructed the Iraqi soldiers during a dedicated field artillery training course at KMTB as the gun crews become the foundation of the growing IA field artillery corps.”


Another divisional field artillery regiment has been reported near Mosul with M198s.  The reporting says this battalion is with 2nd Division but, the division ID might be in error.  The adjacent 3rd Division has been using 2nd Division’s training areas and is receiving training and upgrade to perform external security.


The IA 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th Divisions completed their fifth cycle of battalion training in external defense during June.  Only the 1-10/3 Battalion was specifically identified in this training cycle.


The 14th Division’s Motor Transport Regiment is still reported as the "14th Provision Transportation Command".  This indicates that the MTR is still considered a temporary formation and that the 14th Division plans to establish brigade support battalions in the near future.   The only division in the IA with BSBs does not have an MTR – the transport elements are split among the BSBs.


Iraqi Aviation


The Iraqis may have made an oil-for-aircraft deal for Korean T-50 jet trainers.  If so, this indicates serious budget issues and makes the reported deal with the Czechs for L159 jet trainers questionable.


The Army Air Corps now has 22 Mi-171.  4 were delivered in June.


"The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of follow-on support and maintenance of multiple aircraft systems that include TC-208s, Cessna 172s, AC-208s, T-6As, and King Air 350s. Included are ground stations, repair and return, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support."

Rank Inflation

The USNI blog has a good article up.  The basic problem is one that has been arround since humans started organizing:  Rank Inflation.  Bureaucracies tend to keep expanding until they become so top-heavy as to capsize. 


"The Naval Vessel Registry lists 245 active hulls as of June, 2011.  The same registry lists 268 Flag Officers: 243 Active, 22 Active Duty for Special Work, and 3 Full Time Support.  Last time I walked the Naval Station piers, only three ships had broken an Admiral’s Flag at the masthead.  Merging Second Fleet into Fleet Forces Command is supposedly one such “cost savings” designed to optimize the Fleet.  But, no Flag billets were harmed in the merger." 


I've said this before.  We need to cut the officer ranks in half.  At flag level, we need to cut about 70-80 percent.  Keep in mind that only the USMC has a lower ratio of officers to enlisted than the USN.  And the military is less bloated than the rest of the US Government...


Brigade OOB as of 31 May 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during May 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 June 2011.  Of note, Karabala became the first non-Kurdish province to have no US units based in it in May and NATO Training Mission – Iraq is discussing training planned through the end of 2013.  Highlights in this update include:

  • Peshmerga RGB development – 15th and 16th IA Mountain Divisions cancelled.
  • External Training of IA continues; M198 training in 5th IA Division; BTR4s confirmed in Iraq.
  • JBB beginning to turn over to IqAF;  Second long-range radar contract awarded;  L159s probably being bought; An32 delivery may be accelerated; EC635s and Mi171s arrive.
  • More radios for the Federal Police; 1st Mech FP Brigade OPCON 4th FP Division.




While the Kurdish Regional Guards Brigades [RGBs] continue to form and train, the planned establishment of Iraqi Mountain Divisions from some of these brigades has been cancelled by Prime Minister Maliki at some time prior to April.  The first 4 RGBs are built and operational [1st through 4th].  Four more RGBs are being assembled [5th through 8th].  A further 4 are authorized by the KRG President and are budgeted [9th through 12th].  The US is providing limited assistance in training and equipping these RGBs through the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.  The US will not build camps or provide the same equipment sets to RGBs as to Iraqi Army. While the RGBs are to be mixed KDP/PUK, there are some questions as to how much mixing is actually occurring.


Iraqi Army


External Defense training continues including the separate training deal worked out between the IA 8th Division and the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.  “Members of the 3rd Battalion, 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, completed three weeks of training April 27.  The 3rd Battalion is the second Iraqi unit to complete training as a part of Eagles Rising, a comprehensive training program developed by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to enhance the combat capabilities of Iraqi soldiers."  Reporting of “All Inclusive Training” in the other 4 IA divisions [3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th] has started to omit IA battalion identifications making tracking of details concerning this training difficult.


The 20/5 Brigade was training on former US M198 howitzers on 27 April at Kirkush.  This is the first report of M198 155mm howitzer training in the IA.  Additional elements of the IA 5th Division have also been reported training on M198s.  One of those units is the newly identified "105th Field Artillery Regiment, 5th Iraqi Army Division".  This would be the first divisional Field Artillery Regiment confirmed to have operational howitzers in the IA and is the first IA divisional Field Artillery Regiment identified in press releases.


Unofficial confirmation that the first shipment of BTR4s have arrived in Iraq was provided in comments to last month’s update.


Iraqi Aviation


Joint Base Balad is beginning its planned turnover to the IqAF.   "The Iraqi air force is one step closer to taking ownership of JBB. A trio of officers and 11 enlisted airmen arrived May 15 to in-process here. The group is part of the advance echelon team of 60 Iraqi airmen projected to arrive."


A contract to provide a turn-key Long Range Radar 2 site for the Iraqi Air Force was let in May.  This is the second of 4 planned long-range ground sites planned for the Sector Operations Centers of the IqAF.


Iraq will probably buy L159s for its armed jet trainer program.   While this purchase is not yet approved by the Council of Ministers, these Czech aircraft are not as expensive as the competing offers from South Korea, Italy, and the UK.


While unconfirmed by Iraqi sources, the An32 delivery may be accelerated.  "Antonov State Enterprise (Kyiv) may supply six light An-32 planes under a contract with Iraq ahead of schedule.  Three out of the six aircraft have been already assembled in Ukraine but haven't been accepted by Iraqi side yet, Director of Antonov Serial Plant Mykola Podhrebelny told reporter.  According to him, immediately after the enterprise receives the money for the first planes, they will start assembling the three remaining and may transfer them before 2012, which is a deadline set in the contract."  Of note, this is not the first time that the Ukrainian provider has tried to deliver these An32s.  The Iraqi inspection team rejected these same 3 aircraft in the fall of 2010 when they discovered used avionics and engines had been used in violation of the contract.


Helicopters for the Army Air Corps continue to arrive.  The first 2 EC635T2, armed with Ingwe ATM, Nexter NC-621 20mm cannon, and Herstal HMP-400 12.7 machine guns are reported to have arrived in Iraq.  Also, Iraqi and American officials celebrated the delivery of two Mi-171E helicopters.  The delivery marked the ninth and tenth Mi-171E helicopter aircraft to arrive from a 14-aircraft. Two additional M-171Es were delivered to the base in the previous week.  In total, the Iraqi Army Aviation Command currently has 16 Mi-17 (legacy model Mi-171s) and 18 Mi-171E helicopters in its inventory. The remaining four Mi-171 helicopters are scheduled to be delivered before this fall.


Ministry of Interior


Iraq has requested a possible FMS sale of 750 50-Watt Vehicular Multiband Handheld Radio Systems, 900 5-watt Multiband Handheld Radio Systems, 50 50-watt Multiband Handheld Base Station Radio Systems, 50 20-watt High Frequency (HF) Base Station Radio Systems, and 100 5-watt Secure Personal Role Handheld Radio Systems for the Iraqi Federal Police Force.  This is part of the retraining, re-equipping, and re-designation program transferring the provincial Emergency Police to the Federal Police.


The 1st Mechanized Brigade, 4th Iraqi Federal Police Division, was reported in south Baghdad.  There has been reported only one 1st Mechanized FP Brigade.  This brigade was previously attached to the 2nd FP Division.  Elements of the 4th FP Division continue to be reported in south Baghdad despite its planned assumption of control of southern Iraqi provinces.  These elements are probably undergoing field training in preparation for redeployment to the south.  That redeployment may or may not include the mech.


Brigade OOB as of 30 April 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during April 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 April 2011.  Highlights in this update include:

  • KRGB Soldiers graduate Iraqi Intelligence and Military Security School.
  • Breakdown of 1,026 M113 FOVs being provided to Iraq; 1st shipment of BTR4s to Iraq; M1A1 training and deliveries; First IA M88A2 training; External Defense Training; External Defense Exercises; Divisional MI Battalions?; Scout Sniper training.
  • US IPs depart AAC Squadron after 5 years; Czech L159s to be offered to Iraq.
  • MoI is not ready despite claims of politicians; ERB identified; Maysan to be first to hand over to Police primacy; Oil Police graduation.




KRBG troops are attending Iraqi Army Intelligence training at Taji.  "Of the 302 graduates, 35 NCOs are Kurdish Regional Guard Brigade Soldiers."  This Intelligence training is at the Intelligence and Military Security School at Camp Taji.


Iraqi Army


On 20 April, the US DSCA Excess Defense Articles board updated for Iraq in 2010.  While many of the major items listed under 22 June 2010 and 24 September 2010 had already been reported, this update finally provided a breakdown of the 1,026 M113 variants being provided to the Iraqi Army: 

  • 120 M198 155mm towed howitzers [54 on 22 June and 66 on 24 September];
  • 14 MRAP non-standard [22 June];
  • 20 M88A1 [24 September];
1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles:
  • 618 M113A2 APC [440 on 22 June and 178 on 24 September];
  • 68 M113A2 Ambulances [24 September];
  • 192 M548A1 Cargo Carriers [24 September];
  • 66 M1064 120mm Mortar Carriers [24 September];
  • 80 M577A2 Command Posts [24 September];
  • 2 M577A2 Emergency Medical Treatment Vehicles [24 September]. 


According to Ukrainian reporting, the first shipment of 26 BTR4s are accepted and delivering.  This first shipment is reported to be “20 regular APCs, four command APCs and two medical APCs”.   The next shipment of 62 is planned to be ready by September. It is possible that Iraq will have 400 BTR-4 variants by 2013.  None of this reporting has been confirmed by Iraqi sources.


Elements of the 37/9 Brigade has started training on M1A1 tanks.  All 4 of 9th Division's Brigades have not been reported as receiving M1A1 training.  99 of 140 M1A1s have been delivered as of the end of April.


"Fourteen Iraqi Army soldiers from the 9th Mechanized Division recently began the M88A2 Operator New Equipment Training Course at the Besmaya Combat Training Center here, March 7. This course marks the first time Iraqi army soldiers have worked with the M88A2 heavy equipment recovery combat utility lift and evacuation system vehicle.  The 55-day course teaches them how to operate the M88A2 HERCULES, which will be used to recover the M1A1 Abrams to bring them back to the shop for repairs.” 


The 1-9/3 Battalion has been identified receiving external defense training as well as unidentified elements of 19/5 Brigade.   The first cycle of this training focused on 3 battalions from 4 brigades in 4 different divisions:  The 11/3, 21/5, 28/7, and 40/10 Brigades.  The second cycle of this training is starting to hand off to supervised IA instructors and is training the  9/3, 19/5, ?/7 and 39/10 Brigades.  Additionally the 8th IA Division has arranged with the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment for their own version of this external defense training and the 30/8 Brigade has been rotating its battalions though.


On 19 April, Al Sumaria reported that:  Iraq’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that Iraqi Land Forces have started training their troops since early 2011 in order to leave cities and shift operations from anti-terrorism to border protection operations.  20 comprehensive training exercises were carried out in the different regions of Iraq, the Defense Ministry said.  Iraqi Land Forces are carrying out training missions to leave the cities, Defense Ministry Land Forces Chief Brigadier General Ali Ghaydan said.  “A 9th Division Regiment in Baghdad conducted its first mobilization training on Monday with the participation of Brigadier 34 Regiment [34/9 Mechanized Brigade] troops and Army Aviation [2nd and 15th Squadrons]”, Ghaydan said.  “Training exercises constitute a shift in Iraq’s Army operations from deployment and anti-terrorism operations to mobilization and operational trainings that should upgrade Iraq’s Army capacities to defend the country’s borders”, Brigadier General Ali Ghaydan added.  “Iraqi Land Forces started since early 2011 comprehensive trainings including four divisions in northern [3rd], southern [10th], western [7th] and central [5th] units” Ghaydan stated.  “Regiments will conduct 16 training exercises at the end of this year in addition to the four training operations that will be carried out this month”, he added.


The exercise mentioned for the 34/9 Brigade is one of several “Lion’s Leap” brigade-sized external defense training exercises going on throughout Iraq reported in 9th, 12th, and 14th IA Divisions.  Of interest from that exercise photography, this is the first report of BMP1s in 4-34/9 battalion [the 4-34/9 was Tahla equipped - not BMP1s] and the first exercise where Iraqi M1A1s and BMP1s worked together.


The 12th Division now has an “Intelligence Battalion”.  I estimate they are referring to the 12th Commando [ISR/I&R] Battalion but, this could mean the expansion of the divisional MI Companies to Battalions.


The 17th Division’s Commando Battalion is receiving Scout-Sniper training.  "The intent behind the course was to establish a corps of scouts and snipers within the Iraqi army, some of whom will be relied upon as instructors when U.S. forces leave under the Status of Forces Agreement in place between the two governments..."


Iraqi Aviation


After more than 5 years, US Instructor Pilots have departed the Huey equipped 2nd Squadron.  Notice the length of the timeline.  Now consider that jet pilots are much more difficult and take longer to train than Huey pilots.  Iraq has yet to buy jet trainers, let alone fighters.  The "Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas will offer Iraq subsonic L-159 assault planes [Armed jet trainers] and the upgrading of helicopters during his visit to Iraq in May" but, will Iraq buy them?  Iraq has been shopping for jet trainers for over 3 years without results.  At this rate, Iraq will not have even a token air defense prior to 2020 [if then] unless the US Air Force remains to provide it.


Ministry of Interior


While “Iraq’s Interior Ministry says is ready to take over internal security from Iraqi Army”, this is mostly propaganda.  Most of the MoI forces are at the level of the IA in 2006 and are missing major elements needed.


The 5th Emergency Response Brigade has been identified in Baqubah.  There are 18-26 of these brigades planned for MoI.


Apparently, Maysan is the first province to shift to MoI primacy in internal security.  This makes some sense as Maysan is home to the 5/4 Federal Police Brigade and enough provincial Emergency Police Battalions to build a MoI Police Division.

  • "Missan police department mapped out a new security plan after the withdrawal of army forces from the Amara city,” local police chief said on Monday.  “The police prepared a security plan after the 10th division of the Iraqi army withdraws from Amara city,” General Ismail Arar al-Majedi told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.  “The plan includes removing army blocs and checkpoints,” he added. 


NATO Training Mission graduated its third class of Iraqi Oil Police on 19 April.  This class is the largest yet with 252 personnel.  The OP is planned to have 42,000 personnel.  NTM-I is starting to select Iraqi instructors to carry on this training.

Unless something major comes up, I will probably be only writing ISF monthly updates on the Blog.  This month's update article will probably publish tommarow afternoon.


My time is being diverted by a science fiction novel that I am finally writing after thinking about it for 5 years. 


New information on ISF is drying up anyway – due to US and Iraqi political gag-orders. 


Brigade OOB as of 31 March 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during March 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 March 2011.  The articles “Iraqi Logistics - The Missing Links” and Bloggers Roundtable from a Forgotten Front:  Equipment and Training were addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • Iraqi Army’s Peshmerga Division.
  • US EDA deliveries; BTR4 delivery delayed again; Possible counter-battery radar buy; Joint Intelligence and Operations Center; External Defense training; M1A1 training; Possible division shift from Baghdad; Expansion of divisional support elements; 8/2 Brigade 30 months into 3 month training deployment.
  • Fighters and Air Defense; IqAF Hellfire shot with ISOF FAC; 12th Squadron moves to Habbeniyah.
  • Up to 6 more PBs to be purchased.
  • 4th FP Division elements in south Baghdad; 7/2 FP Brigade moving to Falcon; Basrah 6th ERB reported; Oil Police at 70 percent manning.




The 4th Regional Guard Brigade [RGB] has been reported deployed in Kirkuk.  This is the first report of 4th RGB and its home base indicates that it was formed by merging 2 PUK and KDP brigades – the 12th and 43rd Peshmerga Brigades from Irbil.  The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th RGBs make up a force being called the "Iraqi Army's Peshmerga division".  The 1st and 2nd RGBs were already in Kirkuk province while the 3rd RGB is based in northern Diyala.  These are all regions where the planned Iraqi Army 16th Mountain Division was to operate.  Their operational status could indicate the 16th Mountain Division is to be commissioned this year – 3 years after they were originally to commission.


Iraqi Army


Delivery of US Excess Defense Articles has started.  The 1,026 M113 variants are not fielded yet but, are fielding this year.  23 of 24 M109 self-propelled howitzers are fielded and 8 of the 120 M198 towed howitzers are delivered.


The delivery of Ukrainian APCs is further delayed.  The first 26 BTR4 are now supposed to deliver in April.  The original contract was for initial deliveries in September 2010.


Iraq may buy counter-battery radars.  An FMS notice for the possible purchase of 6 AN/TPQ-36(V)10 FIREFINDER Radar Systems, 18 AN/TPQ-48 Light Weight Counter-Mortar Radars, 3 Meteorological Measuring Sets, 36 export variant Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems, 6 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems, 3 Position and Azimuth Determining Systems, and support from the US was posted in March.  This explains some of the training the IA 6th Division has been receiving from the US.


A joint "Intelligence and Operations Center" is being established to coordinate all the various ISF intelligence collection and dissemination. Intelligence dissemination is a weak point in the ISF.


The training of 4 IA Divisions in external defense continues with 12 battalions trained at the end of March.  This training is already starting to shift to IA lead in the 5th Division.  The 4 IA Divisions being trained are the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th.  However, the 8th Division has arranged with the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment for its own version of this external defense training.


Elements of the 34/9 Brigade was training at Taji on M1A1s tanks in March, after which they are to go to Besmaya for the Equipment Operator Course.  Elements of the 34/9, 35/9, and 36/9 Brigades have been reported training on M1A1s to date.  140 M1A1s are to be delivered to the 9th Armored Division by Aug11.


Elements of 35/9 Brigade were reported in Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad.  Previous reporting placed them training on M1A1s at Besmaya or in southeast Baghdad augmenting the 11th & 17th Divisions.  The 35/9 Brigade may be replacing the 22/6 Brigade so they can start the 6th Division’s move to Ninawa province.  The 6th Division is expected to replace the 3rd Division in Ninawa while the 3rd Division is upgrading in Baghdad – especially Besmaya CTC [IA’s version of the National Training Center].


The 9th Armored Division is now being reported as having a Bridge Regiment.  This addition indicates that heavy divisions of the IA will each have an Engineering Brigade complete.   All of the Iraqi Army divisions and the Iraqi Ground Force Command already have a Field Engineer Regiment each [15 total] which includes a Bridging Company.


The "Emergency Battalion, 5th IA Division" was reported in March.  This is probably the divisional ISR/Commando Battalion.  At least 10 of the 14 IA divisions have expanded their ISR/Commando Companies to battalions.


The 12th Division is reported as having a Signal Regiment.  This indicates an expansion of the IA divisional Signals Companies to battalion-strength.  The 12th Division is one of the junior IA divisions which indicate the other 13 IA divisions already have or have started expanding their communications elements.


The expansion of the Commandos, Bridging, and Signals Companies indicate an expansion of key divisional support and select combat elements.  Other IA divisional elements that may expand to battalions include the Chemical Defense, Military Police, Medical, EOD, and Military Intelligence Companies plus the establishment of Brigade Support Battalions in each brigade.


The 8/2 Brigade is still in Anbar attached to 1st Division.  The 8/2 Brigade is now 30 months into a 3 month training deployment to Anbar.  One possible explanation for this IA brigade remaining in Anbar is the planned IA airborne training in Anbar that was delayed and then cancelled in 2010 when the US 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division redeployed.  None of the current US AABs are airborne but, the “2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division” is scheduled to deploy to Iraq this summer.  Note the change in designation of the US 2-82 Brigade for this deployment.  Security Force Assistance” falls under a different set of guidelines from AABs.


Iraqi Aviation


Iraq is still looking for fighters and air defense.  "Hakim Al Zamili, currently a member of the Defense & security committee in the parliament, announced that Iraq is going to sign contracts for American & European Fighter jets & Air defense systems, in a bid to build the Air Defense sector before the American withdrawal. He stated that the F-16 deal was cancelled because of the 3 years delivery schedule & to divert money to collapsing food rationing system."  Apparently, “the types of aircraft to be contracted out will be one(s) of the origins of American and European."  This indicates that China may be out of this competition leaving France and the US as the only reported potential sellers of fighters.  The mention of possible air defense systems did not indicate if they included SAMs or just radar tracking systems.


"The Iraqi air force took a big leap toward air and ground force integration after an AC-208 Cessna Caravan successfully attacked a target called in by Iraqi Special Operations Forces at the Aziziyah Training Range March 23.  A two-ship formation of Iraqi air force Cessnas from Squadron 3 at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, fired a single air-to-ground missile after receiving ground target coordinates and direction from Iraqi forward air controllers inserted near the target area by Mi-17 helicopters from Camp Taji.  The exercise marked the third time ever that Iraqi air force aircraft fired an AGM-114 Hellfire missile in three years as the scenarios increase in complexity and scope between joint Iraqi military forces.”  Even more important, it was an ISOF Forward Air Controller calling the shot.


The Iraqi Army Aviation Command transferred the 12th Training Squadron from Kirkuk to Habbeniyah in March.  Habbeniyah is to be the Iraqi Army Air Corps’ new training center.


Iraqi Navy and Marines


The Iraqi Navy has modified its contract for patrol boats.   They are ordering 3 more 35m patrol boats, with an option for 3 more.  If all 6 boats are ordered, then Iraqi Navy orders will total 21 boats plus the 5 they already had.  The new boats are expected to be complete by August 2012.


Ministry of Interior


The 4th Federal Police Division has an undetermined number of units operating/training in south Baghdad with the US 6th Squadron, 9th Calvary Regiment attached to 2nd Brigade of 1st Division.  The 4th FP Division is supposed to be headquartered in southern Iraq but, elements appear to be held in Baghdad.  Other than the HQ, the only identified element still in Baghdad is the newly reported 4th FP Division's Logistics Battalion at JSS Jihad.  The only located line formations of the 4th FP Division are 1/4 FP Brigade in Basrah, 4/4 FP Brigade in Wassit, and 5/4 FP Brigade in Maysan.  This indicates that 2/4 and/or 3/4 FP Brigades are in southern Baghdad province either for field training prior to deployment south or augmenting Baghdad prepatory for planned IA move out of the cities.


Joint Security Station Falcon is to be the new home to 7/2 Federal Police Brigade when turned over by USF-I.  This is to allow the brigade to move out of temporary facilities.


The Basrah 6th Emergency Response Battalion has been reported for the first time.  It had been listed as an Emergency Battalion with its location unknown.  The designation of ERB indicates the battalion has been trained and is now a full-fledged SWAT battalion.


The Iraqi Oil Police is reported as "currently at around 40,000” or “70 percent of the force required.”  At least an additional 12,000 police officers are needed.   Major General Hamid Ibrahim, head of Iraq’s oil protection force also said. “If the expansion of the oil sector continues, we need to increase the number according to the expansion, just like all the neighboring countries.”  The oil police chief said “another problem was that in most of Iraq’s southern oil fields, security forces had enlisted the help of about 3,500 civilian guards, whom he regarded as a weakness.”  These numbers indicate that the Oil Police Battalions are almost manned however, training is still needed.

I participated in a Bloggers Roundtable with the Director of Strategic Effects and United States Forces – Iraq Spokesman Major General Jeffrey Buchanan.  I was tail-end Charlie and was surprised that no one asked about the US Excess Defense Articles [EDA] equipment delivery or the external defense training programs for the Iraqi Army [IA] before I did.  I was hoping someone else would ask so I could move down my list of questions.  It was obvious the General was primed for these 2 topics.


One interesting item was that a joint "Intelligence and Operations Center" is being established to coordinate all the various Iraqi Security Force [ISF] intelligence collection and dissemination.  Especially dissemination – this is a weak point in the ISF.  The various intelligence commands do not talk to each other.  This is a common problem in many countries.


US Excess Defense Articles [EDA]


The program to provide the IA with used US armor, howitzers, etc. was reported last summer.  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    

Follow on reporting broke-down the types of M113 variants but, not the numbers being provided:

  • M113A2--Armored Personnel Carriers,
  • M113A2--Ambulance,
  • M548A1--Cargo Carrier,
  • M1064--Mortar Carrier,
  • M577A2--Command Post Carrier, and
  • M577A2--Emergency Medical Treatment Vehicle


According to Major General Jeffrey Buchanan:

  • The 1,026 M113s are not fielded yet.  They are fielding this year. 
  • 23 of 24 M109s are fielded.  They are going to the Tank Regiments.  MOST of them are going to the 9th Division.  [I take this to mean 3 Armored Brigades in 9th Armored Division and 1 Armored Brigade in another mechanized division.  Each getting a battery of 6 M109s each. RUMINT is that the 7th Division is mechanizing.  This also indicates that the M1064 120mm Mortar Carriers will number 72 and will be distributed among the Armor Brigades.  Each Armor Brigade with 3 batteries of 6 M1064s.]
  • 8 of the 120 M198s are delivered.  [These will probably go to the Infantry Divisions receiving external defense training.]


External Training [Comprehensive Training or All Inclusive Training - Tadreeb al Shamil]


According to Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense [IMoD] requested this training in late 2010 with an eye towards future threats.  They have good counter-insurgency force but, needs training on conventional external defense.  This training is on what the US Army would call "Block and Tackle" aspects of offensive and defensive conventional operations.


Tadreeb al Shamil is Battalion-level training lasting 1 month per battalion with 4 battalions training at a time.  Sustainment issues are also addressed in this training.  The training is nearing completion of the 3rd iteration of this training [12 battalions complete].  This training program will be IA run by the end of this summer.  The 4 divisions that IMoD requested this training for are:

  • Ninawa’s 3rd Division [1-11/3, 2-11/3, and 3-11/3 Battalions complete or completing.]
  • Diyala’s 5th Division [2-21/5, 3-21/5, and 4-21/5 Battalions complete or completing.]
  • Anbar’s 7th Division [1-28/7, 2-28/7, and 3-28/7 Battalions complete or completing.  7th Division is rumored to be mechanizing.]
  • Dhi Qar’s 10th Division [1-40/10, 2-40/10, and 3-40/10 Battalions complete or completing.]


Part of the plan is building a culture of training and honest evaluation of capabilities like the US Army has.  In that regard, they have already had some success.  The 9th and 8th Divisions saw this training and wanted it.   However, the 9th Division is in the process of equipping, training, and fielding of M1A1 tanks and M109 self-propelled howitzers which causes too much interference.  The 9th Division is observing the training for implementation later.  The 8th Division worked with the US 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment to get their own version of this training - above and beyond IMoD's request.


Major General Jeffrey Buchanan also said that there is a gap in capabilities in integrating combined arms that needs further work and that there will be an enduring relation even after USF-I leaves.  The possible frameworks for further training include Joint Training Exercises/Operations in Iraq and Iraqi training in US schools under the Strategic Partnership Agreement.


As things stand, all US Forces in Iraq not under the American Embassy will be gone by 2012 - unless the Iraqi Government asks for them to stay.  This does preclude US military personnel requested by Iraq returning to provide training/assistance and units returning for training exercises.  The US performs these operations and training support in friendly countries throughout the world.        


logistics march 2011

IA, FP, and DBE Logistics/Maintenance Units as of March 2011


Logistics is not sexy - it is tedious and boring to most people.  Logistics is also the essential component to any military operations.  “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.”  Without the beans, boots, and bullets – combat operations are impossible.


The Iraqi Army [IA] is organized on a modified US Army structure while the Ministry of Interior [MoI] paramilitary forces - the Federal Police [FP] and Department of Border Enforcement [DBE] are organized more on Italian Carabinarie structure.  Both structures normally have support, transport, and maintenance components at each level: 

  • Battalions have a Headquarters Support Company [HSC] with admin, supply, transport, and maintenance platoons.
  • Line and Field Artillery Brigades [Level 1] normally have a Sustainment Battalion including supply, transport, and maintenance companies.
  • Divisions [Level 2] normally have a Support Brigade including supply, transport, and maintenance battalions.
  • Corps’ [Level 3] normally have 1-2 Support Brigades each including supply, transport, and maintenance battalions.
  • Armies [Level 3] normally have a Support Force [division-equivalent] including supply, transport, and maintenance brigades.


Since the last summary on ISF Logistics in August 2009, ISF Level 1 and Level 3 logistics and support has not developed further resulting in major gaps in support.  The 4 IA Corps’ planned for forming in 2008-2011 have not materialized.  No new Brigade Support Battalions have been formed.


While these Level 1 and Level 3 support elements are not essential to an infantry force conducting counter-insergency, the ISF – especially the IA - is steadily motorizing and adding mechanized/armored elements without the essential additional support and maintenance components needed to support them.  The FP – already deficient in all levels of support and maintenance - has been absorbing, motorizing, and retraining the provincial paramilitary Emergency Brigades without a corresponding increase in support forces.  The DBE lags behind the FP in support force development with no effective Level 1, 3, or 4 components while expanding its motorized Commando Battalions.  MoI forces continue to piggyback heavily on IA support – adding further strain to the IA’s inadequate support and maintenance force.


While the ISF is still deficient in supply and maintenance, there have been improvements. The ISF has focused on improving Level 2 support over the last 18 months:

  • Expanding the IA divisional maintenance companies to battalions.  Most of the maintenance personnel are still apprentice level.
  • Standing up the IA Memona Support Brigade in Maysan. 
  • Completing the 17th Division’s Motor Transport Regiment, Support Battalion, and Maintenance Battalion.
  • Expanding and filling out the Taji National Depot [Level 4].
  • Forming the FP divisional Sustainment Battalions.
  • Standing up the FP Sustainment Brigade and its base at Salman Pak [Level 3 or part of future Level 4].
  • Building the DBE divisional Maintenance Battalions [sustainment battalions].


To make supply and maintenance matters worse, the ISF still operates on a pull system of support.  This means that subordinate units request support as needed and then wait.  The US Army works on a push system of support where higher commands anticipate and provides supplies and maintenance support in advance of need.


Level 1 Logistics and Maintenance.   The IA has been adding wheeled and mechanized vehicles to its battalions without adding the needed Brigade Support Battalions [BSBs].  Only 5 of the 59 IA and ISOF Brigades have BSBs while 25 of those 59 brigades have been sufficiently mechanized and/or motorized to warrant BSBs.  And the IA is adding at least 10 brigades of additional mechanized and armored vehicles to its structure over the next 2 years.  This is part of the reason for the press reports of IA units having more than half of their vehicles inoperable for maintenance and the regular reports of units having fuel shortages in an oil-exporting nation.


The MoI forces are in even worse condition – they trail the IA by 5 years in development.  The FP and Emergency Response Force is motorized yet does not have any BSBs in its 27 brigades.  While the DBE’s 15 brigades are mostly static defense, they are expanding the number of motorized Commando Battalions and are spread out over a large area and do not have BSBs.


Level 2 Logistics and Maintenance.  The IA is in good shape at this level and has even formed an additional Support Brigade for a new or relocating division in Maysan.  The only real weakness in the IA at this level is that the Location Commands [Sustainment Battalions are not subordinate to the Divisions – they are under the same command as the Taji National Depot.  This division of authority disrupts the supply of the divisions.


MoI forces only have 1 support battalion per division at this level while requiring a brigade and most of these support battalions have only formed in the last year.  Combined with the lack of Level 1 support, the MoI forces have no real Level 1 and grossly insufficient Level 2 sustainment.


Level 3 Logistics and Maintenance.  The establishment and expansion of Joint Operational Commands provides Corps-level command and control but, no corresponding support and maintenance at this level.  The IA planned to form 4 Corps starting in 2008 but, that has not happened.  The establishment of an FP Sustainment Brigade supports this Corps-sized force at this level but, the FP is expanding to a 3-Corps sized force and the FP Sustainment Brigade has not fully completed building and training.  The DBE piggybacks on the IA and FP at this level.


Level 4 Logistics and Maintenance.  Only the IA has a real Level 4 logistics and maintenance force.  MoI forces piggyback on the IA’s Taji National Depot.  Taji also has to double as the Level 3 support in the absence of IA Corps’ level supply and maintenance.  This means that Taji has to support 6 Corps-equivalents on its own – the equivalent of 2-3 Armies.


Kurdish Forces are not addressed due to lack of data concerning their logistics – they are reportedly being reorganized along western structure into 21 line brigades (a 4-5 division Corps-equivalent) plus 2 IA and 2 FP Divisions.  Iraqi Air and Naval support forces are also not addressed as they are base-centric and are developing their support in advance of their expansion – you have to have functional bases before you can have functional air and naval forces.


The IA has built about 40 percent of its needed logistics and maintenance force and the MoI has built about 10-20 percent.  This level of logistics capability is in accordance with the Iraqi Security Forces’ plan.  Phase 1 of ISF development was Tactical Independence which was achieved in 2010.  Phase 2 is Operational Independence and is planned to complete in 2015.  Phase 3 is Strategic Independence and is planned to complete by 2020.  The 2012 date for the withdrawal of US Forces was an arbitrary political date chosen by politicians that mistake the number of combat battalions for strength and do not understand how many essential support components have not been built yet. 


IA Support and Maintenance is adequate for peacetime or Low Intensity Conflict.  MoI support only functions by piggybacking on the IA and needs serious expansion.  In any Medium or High Intensity Conflict, supply of all the ISF ground forces would fail in short order.  A 50 percent down rate of vehicles may be acceptable in peacetime but, is a disaster in war.


Brigade OOB as of 28 February 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during February 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 28 February 2011.  The article updating the Peshmerga “The Second Largest Army in Iraqwas addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • IA:  BTR4 delivery did not occur in February; LAV-25s not being bought; M113 APC contract for refurbishment awarded; External training continues in 4 IA Divisions; 28/7 Brigade converting to mechanized?; Logistics and Maintenance training emphasis; 34/9 Brigade training on M1A1s; 52/14 Brigade night live-fire amphibious exercise with tanks; 5/2 Brigade shifting AOR?; Wassit Operational Command established.
  • IqAF/AAC:  Ukraine claims 2 AN-32s ready for delivery; Budget delays fighter purchase; Recall and recruitment of medical and aviation support personnel.
  • IqN/IqM:  Iraqi Navy recruiting.
  • MoI:  4th FP Division relocating/training in Baghdad?; FP training on VIP security – may be gaining IA protection personnel; FP Strike Teams’ train-the-trainer program established; DBE’s 9th Brigade moves to Iranian border; NTM-I Oil Police training.


Iraqi Army


The BTR4 deliveries planned for February have not been reported as occurring.  Apparently the guns installed were faulty and the Ukrainians cannot meet the rescheduled delivery.  "Ukrainska Pravda suggested that it would be physically impossible to replace the faulty and outdated equipment by the end of February as promised to the Iraqis.”


While there are rumors of the IA purchasing LAV-25s as a replacement, there is no active case for purchasing LAVs.  According to SSG Kelli Lane, Press Desk Officer, Media Operations Center, US Embassy-Baghdad:  "We queried our sources within the Iraq Train and Advisory Mission (ITAM) and they have stated that they are not aware of a LAV purchase being made."  This rumor may be the IA’s way of putting pressure on the Ukrainians to deliver.


BAE Systems, Inc. was awarded a no-fee contract for the refurbishment of 440 M113A2 armored personnel carriers to a fully mission capable plus condition for the government of Iraq. This work has an estimated completion date of April 30, 2012.  This is the APC part of a total of 1,026 M113 variants to be delivered to Iraq.  When US Army excess equipment is donated they are stripped of restricted items like radios and weapons – this Iraqi funded FMS contract is to replace those missing items.


"The 5th, 7th and 10th IA Divisions are also conducting similar training during 2011, as Iraqi Ground Forces Command continues to modernize its army, added Hussain. According to Hussain, the Iraqi Army is planning to rotate 48 battalions through Ghuzlani and similar training centers spread across the country by the end of the year."  The second set of 4 battalions trained during February on external security.  "As succeeding iterations of IA battalions rotate through GWTC during Tadreeb al Shamil, the U.S. role will diminish, Gillam said, with Iraqi cadre assuming more of the training responsibility for the Iraqi units."  Like all training of Iraqi Security Forces, this is a train-the-trainer program.  Effectively, the US Army is training 4 IA Divisions to act as training divisions for the rest of the IA.   In addition to the battalions training, the division and brigade staffs are receiving parallel training in external defense.


Twice in February the 28/7 Brigade was called “mechanized” by PAO reporting of its external defense training.    No mechanized or armor vehicles have been reported or seen in 28/7 Brigade.  This could be confirmation of the rumor that the 7th Division is to mechanize.


Logistics and maintenance forces are also a current major focus for US training of ISF.  The focus was on training internal security line forces from 2005 to 2008 and support forces are still lagging in development.


The 34/9 Mechanized Brigade is receiving training on M1A1 tanks at Taji.  Elements of 35/9 and 36/9 Brigades have been previously identified as training for this upgrade.  According to an IA platoon leader in this training, all his troops had prior experience on T72s. This indicates that 2-34/9 Battalion is to be converted to an M1A1-equipped Tank Regiment.  This is the fifth battalion identified receiving M1A1 training.


The 52/14 Brigade conducted a night live-fire exercise in February. This was an amphibious crossing exercise called Operation Shining Star on Tealeaf Island near Basrah.  The exercise employed T55 tanks and mortars in support.  The 14th Division is not currently in training for external defense and the division has not been reported as assigned tanks.  The T55s may be augment or a transfer from the upgrading 9th Division to the 3-52/14 Battalion.


For the first time in 2 years, elements of 5/2 IA Brigade have been reported operating outside of Mosul.  This could indicate a shift in AOR, planned future training, and/or the Federal Police could be taking over more of the responsibility for Mosul.  The shift of the IA out of the cities with police forces taking over is planned and appears to be starting in several cities.


Iraqi Press is reporting announcements from the “Wassit Operations Command”.  The Maysan and Wassit Operations Commands are recent additions and could be the start of forming new divisional headquarters as both provinces are expected to host IA divisions.  Alternatively, these OCs could be being established in every province to provide joint ISF command and coordination elements.


Iraqi Aviation


On 28 February, Ukrainian press reported that the "State-run Antonov State Enterprise (Kyiv) is ready to deliver the first two An-32 light transport aircraft to Iraq this week."  "...four more planes are to be delivered to Iraq by the end of the year."  These aircraft were initially rejected by the Iraqis last fall since the “An-32’s had been assembled from parts made before 2009, while according to the contract the aircraft should be new.”  These aircraft will be added to the ISF OOB when the IqAF actually accepts them.


While the reported French offer of Mirage F1s has caused speculation as to the configuration, the only fighter buy that had a down payment authorized was US F16s and that money has been redirected – further delaying any fighter buys.  The Iraqi government is postponing the expected purchase of the F-16 fighter jets and is using the money to beef up food rations. Iraq’s only air defense is the USAF at this time.  USAF elements will probably have to remain in Iraq after 2012.


The Iraqi MoD is recalling air controllers, air support and aviation engineer personnel from the former IA for return to service.  With the split of helicopter assets from the Air Force to the IA AAC, the IA requires additional support personnel for its own air elements.  IMoD is also recruiting medical personnel. 


Iraqi Navy and Marines


The Iraqi MoD is also recruiting Naval personnel.  The Iraqi Navy and Marines are to expand rapidly and is currently undermanned.


Ministry of Interior


Elements of the Federal Police’s forming 4th Division are apparently being redirected to Baghdad.  This division has 3 brigades located in Basrah, Maysan, and Wassit provinces and was to be headquartered in Basrah.  However, elements are apparently in south Baghdad province and they are coordinating with US Forces in the IA 17th Division’s AOR.  While this could be for training, it could also be to replace the IA 17th Division and allow it to relocate/shift to external defense.   The current plan to replace IA forces in the cities mirrors the US handover to the IA in the cities.  The IA took over the lead in the cities from the US and is handing over to the FP.  The FP eventually is to turn over to the IP and move to over-watch for internal security and train as reserve for the IA in external security.


While Federal Police were reported as graduating four weeks of VIP's guard training course by the Italian Carabinieri forces, not all of the uniforms were FP.   These personnel are being trained to form an Iraqi Federal Police dignitary protection and personal security for the Arab League Summit under the FP's Major General Ali al-Ithari, commander of the newly-established Security Detail Force.  The assignment of a Major General in command indicates a multi-brigade force is being assembled and trained.  Some or all of the 2 Presidential Brigades [6 battalions] and 14 Independent Protection Battalions of the IA may be transferring to the FP.  The 20 IA Protection Battalions are filling an internal security duty and the IA is shifting its focus to external security.


US Forces are developing a train-the-trainer program for the FP’s Strike Teams.  FP Strike Teams are the equivalent to the Commando [recon/cavalry] elements in IA.


The Department of Border Enforcement’s 9th Brigade has shifted to the Iranian border.  This reduces DBE presence on the Saudi border and doubles its presence in Basrah’s border regions.


"The 1st Train the Trainers (T3) Course for the Iraqi Oil Police held a closing ceremony at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Camp Dublin in Baghdad, Iraq February 03. The T3 course was conducted by the Italian Carabinieri of the NTM-I Gendarmerie Training Unit on a training program lasting one month and started last January 2."  Also, "NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) conducted a graduation ceremony for 136 Iraqi policemen who completed the second Oil Police training course at Camp Dublin Feb. 10."  The training of the expanding Oil Police is a new task for NTM-I.  With the reductions in US Forces, NTM-I has been assuming more training responsibilities of Iraqi Forces.  Unlike US Forces, NTM-I is not scheduled to leave by 2012.

krg wire

Link to larger graphic.


For the last 3 months, writing an update on the Peshmerga has been on the to-do list.  However, the Peshmerga still has the best OPSEC in Iraq.  Most of the update data has come from Iraqi MoD/MoI and USF-I reporting.


Recent reporting describes the Peshmerga as reducing from 200,000 to 70,000 with the other 130,000 either retiring or getting “government” jobs.  Those “government” jobs would include the 30,000 Zerevani Paramilitary Police transferred to Iraqi Ministry of Interior [MoI], the 29,500 transferred to the Iraqi Army [IA], and 5,000 being formed into the KRG’s Oil Police.


The most significant Kurdish provided details came from the Secretary General of Peshmerga Forces over a year ago.  He described a reorganization and unification of PUK/KDP Peshmerga into a 21 brigade force to be called the Kurdish Regional Border Guards [KRBG].  He also described the un-commissioned 15th and 16th Iraqi Army Divisions as separate from those 21 planned Peshmerga brigades and already under IA command.


Former Peshmerga forces that are under Government of Iraq control and are receiving Iraqi Security Force training include 4 Regional Guards Brigades [RGBs] and 30,000 Zerevani Paramilitary Police.


The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd RGBs are located in areas that were planned for the IA 16th Mountain Division and are formed by merging smaller PUK/KDP brigades that had been designated for this IA division.  These RGBs are being trained in Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, Balad, and Taji.  The 4th RGB is unreported/un-located.  These are the same Kurdish forces that are participating in joint US/IA/FP/IP/Peshmerga patrols in the disputed zones.


Reporting on the un-commissioned IA 15th Mountain Division elements has been absent.  There have not been reports of them training in Irbil, Dohuk, or Ninawa.  There are reports of 10,000 Peshmerga in the IA guarding the Iraqi Government.  The 2 Presidential Brigades were formed around Peshmerga Special Operations Force cadre.  Also, 3 IA brigades in and adjacent to the Iraqi Government’s International Zone are designated with numbers that should belong to the 15th Division under the IA numbering system [54/6, 55/17, and 56/6 Brigades].  All of these brigades are reported to have significant Kurdish representation.


The 30,000 Peshmerga “Zerevani” paramilitary police have been receiving Federal Police training since 2009.  Part of this force is to be commissioned as the Iraqi 6th Federal Police Division in 2011 or 2012.  Given those numbers of Zerevani, there is probably a second Federal Police division to be formed at a later date.


That leaves the 70,000 personnel that are to remain under actual Peshmerga command – the Kurdish Regional Border Guards [KRBG].  While the KRG has declined to provide a breakdown of these 21 unified/mixed KDP/PUK brigades, reporting from 2008 indicates the probable brigade mix.


In 2008, Peshmerga brigades averaged only 2,000 personnel each.  They are being reorganized along IA lines by merging PUK’s and KDP’s smaller brigades into the larger size [3,000-3,500].  This merger indicates a probable brigade mix of:

  • 1 Armor Brigade formed by merging the smaller PUK and KDP Mechanized Brigades built out of captured old-IA T-54/55 tanks and APCs.
  • 0-1 Engineer Brigade formed by merging the engineer forces.  If they form divisions, this could be split among the divisions.
  • 4 Field Artillery Brigades equipped with a mix of D30 howitzers, Katyusha, and Grad Rocket Launchers plus 120mm mortars.
  • 1-3 Special Operations Force Brigades.  If they form divisions, this could be partially split among the divisions.
  • 12-15 Mountain Infantry Brigades. 
  • 0-1 Aviation Brigade.  While not official, there has been reporting of an Observation Helicopter Squadron, Training Squadron, and an Air Medical element that could be formed into a brigade or remain separate squadrons.


There is unconfirmed reporting suggesting the KRBG will be organized into 4 divisions.  8 total divisions including the 4 FP/IA divisions.  However, UPI’s track-record on military reporting is shaky at best.  They probably are counting division-equivalents vice actual divisions.


Details are not clear but, much can be inferred from the limited reporting and extrapolation from the 2008 reporting.  Of the 200,000 existing Peshmerga, 60,000 are transferring to IA/FP, 5,000 are becoming Oil Police, and 65,000 are retiring.  The remaining 70,000 are in being merged into 21 apolitical brigades under a unified Kurdish Regional Border Guards and are receiving US and GoI assistance in training.  The KRBG will still be the second largest armed force in Iraq even with this reduction to 70,000 until the Iraqi Federal Police absorbs the remaining provincial emergency police and Zerevani.  Then they will still be the third largest armed force in Iraq and will have significant representation in the larger IA and FP forces…


Related:  Iraqi Order of Battle [Updated monthly]


Brigade OOB as of 31 January 2011


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during January 2011.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 January 2011.  The articles “Is the Iraqi 7th Division Mechanizing?”, “Thoughts on ISF Development and Iraq's Ability to Defend Itself”, and “Emergency Response Brigades Return to Iraqi Federal Police?” were addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • GoI/KRG agreement?; RGB personnel training at Taji; Peshmerga in Baghdad;  KRG MedEvac Squadron;  Light APCs provided to Zerevani ERB; KRG Oil Police Brigade Forming.
  • BTR4s start delivery in February?; 586 M113s being refurbished for IA; Truck-mounted MRLs; 4 IA Divisions identified as retraining for external defense;  Maysan Operations Center;  3 IA Division’s Commandos training; IA Counter-Battery Radar training.
  • 4 Mi-171s delivered; Down-payment of F16s authorized; Weather Radars; Training Squadrons renumbering?
  • First 24-hour PB patrol; 2 PBs delivered; OSV simulaters.
  • ERF getting armor?; ERF Battalion identified;  200,000 Police for Baghdad; FPS transitioning to Police.



The Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government have come to a deal, however the details are only trickling out.  The Peshmerga is reducing to 70,000 personnel with 130,000 to be pensioned or get government jobs.   


Elements of the 4th Battalion, 3rd Regional Guard Brigade are training at Iraqi Army facilities at Taji.  This Brigade is based in Khanaqin – Diyala Provinces.  Training Kurdish forces at Taji are a first and are probably part of the deal.


Mala Bakhteyar, a senior member of the PUK’s political bureau, said in an interview with Kurdish television channel Gale Kurdistan that the PUK had prepared for the “worst case scenario,” including military coups.  "Ten thousand members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces have been sent to Baghdad to protect Jalal Talabani – the Kurdish president of Iraq – and all other Kurdish officials there from the possibility of a military coup, says a senior official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s two ruling parties."  At first read, this appears to be exaggerated, however, both of the Presidential Brigades were formed around Kurdish troops and there are 3 other IA Brigades in and adjacent to the International Zone that are predominately Kurdish.  The other 14 Independent Protection Battalions in Baghdad are of undetermined composition.  Of note, the 54/6, 55/17, and 56/6 Brigades in Baghdad are numbered with what should be 15th Division brigade-numbers [54-57] – and 15th Division is a planned Kurdish IA Division.


An "aero medical emergency service" based in Sulaymaniyah is being formed.  This MedEvac Squadron adds to the existing Light Observation Helicopter Squadron and the basic Pilot Training Squadron run by the Peshmerga.


Photos of black painted Saxon light APCs were taken in Zahko in the summer 2010.  This indicates that elements of the Zerevani police are converting to Iraqi MoI Emergency Response Force and receiving light armor.  The only Saxons in the ISF were provided to the IA 14th Division in Basrah before the UK Forces departed Iraq.  Iraqi MoD apparently transferred them to Iraqi MoI as part of the plan to reduce the number of vehicle types in the IA.


"The Interior Minister in Kurdistan Regional Government Kareem Sinjari, in a press statement said that his ministry formed a 5000 men force to protect the oil refineries in Kurdistan Region’s three provinces Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimani."  Apparently the KRG is establishing its own Oil Police.


Iraqi Army


The first shipment of 26 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers are to be delayed and are now scheduled to be delivered in February.  Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau blamed the gun producers from Kamianets-Podilsky. Shortcomings were exposed when Iraqis were examining the APCs.   Ukraine tried to deliver An32s with used engines and avionics.  Apparently, they did something similar with the BTR4s.  The BTR4s were supposed to be delivered in time for the 6 January Army Day Parade.  The Ukrainian contract is reported in danger of being cancelled.


A total of 586 M113A2s and 21 M88s are being refurbished for delivery to Iraq.  "The vehicles to be repaired are from an excess stock of M113s at Sierra Army Depot in California."  The M113s are to be refurbished at a rate of 50 vehicles per month. The first delivery of M113s to Iraq is set for July 2011.  The original FMS Notice was only for 440 M113A2 APCs, however, M113A2 Ambulances do not require a notice. This indicates that 440 APCs and 146 Ambulances are being delivered.  The other 440 M113-varients are not broken down yet but are to be a mix of M577A2 Armored Command Posts, M548A1 Cargo Carriers, M1064A2 120mm Mortar Carriers, and M577A2 Emergency Medical Treatment Vehicles.


The only new ground equipment noted in the 6 January Army Day Parade were the delivered M1A1 tanks and  Ford 350 truck mounted Type 63 107mm 12-tube rocket launchers.  The IA appears to be salvaging these towed systems and mounting them on pickups as light self-propelled artillery.


US Forces are retraining all of the battalions of 4 IA Divisions in preparation for their shift to external security.  The first 5 battalions identified as completing this 25-day training are the 1-11/3 and 2-12/3 in Ninawa, 3-21/5 in Diyala, 2-28/7 in Anbar, and 1-40/10 in Dhi Qar.  All of these divisions [3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th] have border sectors with Iran or Syria.  Of note, while 9th Division is in conversion training for its ongoing upgrades to M1A1 tanks, M113 APCs, and BTR4s – so far it has not been reported undergoing this training.  Previous reporting indicated that the US Forces were to prepare 1 mechanized and 3 infantry divisions for external defense duties.  This could be confirmation that 7th Division is to be mechanized.  If the 7th Division is mechanized, it will probably move to Basrah – Basrah has strategic priority second only to Baghdad.


The Maysan Operations Center, led by 10th Iraqi Army Division, conducted its first Command Post Exercise on 30 December 2010.  This is the first mention of a Maysan Operations Center and probably is in preparation for the shift of the rest of the 10th Division to Maysan as part of assuming duties of external defense.    Dhi Qar and Muthanna provinces will probably be backfilled with new or transferred  IA/ FP forces.


The training of the youngest of the Iraqi divisions appears to be concentrating on their scout/recon elements.  11th, 12th, and now the 14th Division’s Commandos are reported being trained by US Forces.


The Iraqi Army Artillery School is receiving 5-weeks Counter-battery radar training.  "U.S. artillerymen recently began a new training program on Forward Operating Base Constitution with the Iraqi Army to assist them in combating terrorist indirect-fire-attacks.  The fire finder radar system training is a 30-day class designed to teach the IA how to operate and maintain a system that will allow them to detect and track incoming artillery and rocket fire."  The IA has not been reported ordering this system as yet.  This could indicate they are planning to order these or that the US is providing them as part of the post-2011 security of the US Embassy [and the rest of the IZ].


The IA is also being trained in computer simulations for command-post exercises.  IA personnel are being trained as instructors for a Military Simulations Operators Course.


There is confused reporting as to the status of the IA Tank School.  One report indicates: "...Contingency Operating Base Taji, where the Iraqi army tank school is relocating."  Other reports still indicate that Besmaya is the center of Armor training.


Iraqi Aviation


SA342 Gazelles and EC635s were the only new aircraft types at the Army Day Parade compared to last year.  As mentioned above, the AN32s did not make it in time for parade because the Ukrainians tried to deliver them with used engines and avionics in violation of the contract.


"The Iraq Army Aviation Command accepted delivery of four new Mi-171E helicopters at its headquarters in Taji, as two were delivered Jan. 16 followed two more Jan. 23.  This latest delivery brings Iraq Army Aviation Command’s total inventory of Mi-171E helicopters to 14, as part of a foreign-military-sales purchase made by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense."  "Iraq’s fleet of multipurpose helicopters now includes 30 Mi-17 (which includes a number of aircraft that were already in the Iraqi inventory) and 14 Mi-171E helicopters."


Iraqi negotiators were authorized to negotiate with France for 18 used Mirage 2000s.  Instead France offered 18 Mirage F1s for sale with delivery starting late 2011 instead.  Apparently France wants to clear the Iraqi debt from the Saddam-era stored/embargoed 18 F1s before any new sales.  This could explain why the sudden authorization to buy 18 new F16s from the US instead of the 6 authorized in the earlier CoM decision – GoI is redirecting the money from the French to the US buy.   While there are reports of Chinese J17s being negotiated for, the only down-payment for any jet fighters authorized by the Iraqi Government is a $900 million down payment on F16s.


The IqAF has been receiving weather radars.  "The process started last October with the purchase of four Ellason Weather Radar 600’s.  The first of these radars was installed at the Baghdad Iraqi Air Operations Center where the Iraqis have been training on system ever since.  The Ellason Weather Radar 600 isn’t the only system to provide real-time weather data. The Iraqi air force currently uses a TMQ-53 Weather Observation System on loan from the U.S. Air Force, but recently purchased eight new units to be set up throughout Iraq. Once the new systems are in place, the only thing missing for the Iraqis to run their own weather operation will be training."


The Training squadrons may have been renumbered.  Training Squadron No. 3 is now being called the 203rd Training Squadron.  Of interest, NATO may be expanding its training assistance.  Unlike USF-I, NTM-I is authorized to remain in Iraq beyond 2012.


Iraqi Navy and Marines


"The patrol was the first-ever 24-hour perimeter defense patrol of the Al Basrah Oil Terminal conducted by the Iraqi Navy since the Coalition Naval Advisory Training Team initiated operations, said United Kingdom Royal Navy Lt. Richard Hurman, a CNATT training officer. The patrol was planned and conducted entirely by the Iraqi Navy, and was the result of several months of effort."  This indicates the IqN is improving and preparing to assume the patrol duties.   Iraq also took delivery of 2 more Swiftboat PBs delivered on 26 January at Umm Qasr.  Only 12 of the 15 ordered Patrol Boats are expected to be delivered by 2012.


A contract has been awarded “to provide the design, fabrication, installation, and testing of the Iraqi navy training systems and the training development and delivery for the 60-Meter Offshore Support Vessel (OSV).”  The work is anticipated to be complete in November 2011.  “VSD will develop, construct, and deliver training for and manage the team of contractors in the development of four simulators to include the Full Mission Bridge Trainer, 30mm Fire Control Trainer, Engine Control Room Trainer, and Small Arms Trainer. The training effort will involve OSV operation and maintenance to Iraqi naval personnel in one training session in Morgan City, La. The effort also includes support for Iraqi engineers who will monitor the ship’s construction. The training shall ensure the Iraqi sailors have a working knowledge of OSV operation and maintenance to sustain operational requirements and systems availability throughout the OSV service life."   These OSVs are to be the supporting mother-ships for the IqN patrol boat force.


Ministry of Interior


The Iraqi MoI Emergency Response Force [ERF] is getting armored vehicles.  "As black, Russian-made armored vehicles rolled into Fire Base Stack in Hillah, Dec. 20, it was evident that significant changes were occurring on this small special operations compound, previously occupied solely by U.S. forces.  The day marked the transfer of authority of the fire base, known locally as Bayt Al-Wazeer, between the U.S. Special Operations Forces unit and the "Scorpions" of 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, Emergency Response Brigade, an Iraqi special operations unit that has been conducting training with U.S. forces on the compound for many years.”  In addition M1117s were seen in Baghdad painted in ERF colors during the Police Day Parade and Saxons have been photographed in ERF colors in Zakho.


An ERF battalion has been identified in Basrah.  This is the first mention of 12th Emergency Response Battalion in Basrah.


The Deputy Minister of Interior says the Council of Ministers has agreed to recruit 200,000 more police for Baghdad.  This could mean that more than 14-18 Federal Police Divisions are planned.  It could also indicate that elements of the FP and IA are being relocated from Baghdad and that IP/FP personnel are being recruited to backfill.  Even expanding the existing Baghdad Police forces to a total of 200,000 would be a significant increase in the forces.  By comparison, the entire Iraqi Army is only reported to be about 290,000.


The January 2011 SIGIR Report provided some details on the plan to reform the Facilities Police Service and partially explained the increase in the Iraqi Police.  "The plan for transitioning FPS personnel to the IP service has slowly evolved since 2008.  In November, the Minister of Interior announced that he had approved MOI funding to train approximately 76,000 FPS as police officers in 2011. Under the transition agreement, all FPS contractors are to become Iraqi Police in late January or early February 2011. Currently, the FPS comprises approximately 91,650 personnel. Of these, about 17,330 are fulltime FPS police, and about 74,320 are MOI contractors. Twelve MOI training academies will be used throughout Iraq to conduct the FPS training. The plan calls for 11 training cycles, spanning several months, with 6,700 contractors to be trained in each four-week cycle. This will take approximately 18 months to accomplish.  The curriculum will incorporate elements of both the basic recruit training and the FPS curriculum."

There is little data concerning the Iraqi Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Force’s developments.  This force is known to be expanding but, little is ever reported about the Ministry of Interior’s Special Operations Force.  Some of what follows is speculation or rumor intelligence [unconfirmed].


All of the Provincial Iraqi Police Paramilitary forces are planned to be retrained and reequipped as part of their conversion to Emergency Response Brigades and Federal Police.  The ERBs have first chance at the personnel from the provincial SWAT forces.  They are sent to the Operator Selection Course and the best 50 percent join the ERBs while the others return to the provincial forces or go to Federal Police training.


Only 9 of the existing 12-14 Emergency Response Battalions have been identified so far.  They appear to be being organizing into 6-7 brigades at this time.  The Federal Police plans to have at least a brigade in each province while the ERF plans to mirror this with at least a battalion of SWAT personnel in each province.  The Federal Police plans to grow to 16-20 divisions and the ERF to 16-20 brigades.


The original MoI Emergency Response Unit [battalion] was part of the National Police.  The National Police lost operational control of the ERU to the National Operations Command long before the NP was renamed the Federal Police.  There are unconfirmed reports indicating that the Emergency Response Brigades may be returning to the Federal Police – at least as far as administration and logistics support is concerned.  This would explain the planned change in the Federal Police divisional-structure to 5 brigades, 4 Federal Police Brigades and an Emergency Response Brigade per Federal Police Division.  By doing this reorganization, the Ministry of Interior avoids building a parallel and redundant support structure.  Instead the ERF piggybacks on the FP’s logistics and equipment support.  This would push the probable end-strength of the Federal Police to 18-20 divisions.


Several Emergency Response Battalions have been reported using armored vehicles – some former Army and some from the Federal Police. 

  • Before the UK left, they turned over 60 Saxon light APCs to the IA 14th Division in Basrah.  Six black-painted Saxons were seen and photographed last summer in Zahko.  Black is the color of ERF vehicles and elements of the Zerevani are reported training to be ERF.  Apparently the IA has transferred the Saxons to the MoI and they were provided to the ERF.  The Federal Police plan to form the 6th FP Division from part of the 30,000 Kurdish Zerevani that have transferred to the Iraqi MoI in 2011-2012.  The ERF appears to be developing ahead of the FP in this region.
  • Black painted M1117 ASV/APCs with ERF markings were in the Police Day parade.  M1117s were the exclusive property of the Federal Police prior to this.
  • "Black, Russian-made armored vehicles rolled into Fire Base Stack in Hillah” on 20 December 2010.  “The day marked the transfer of authority of the fire base, known locally as Bayt Al-Wazeer, between the U.S. Special Operations Forces unit and the "Scorpions" of 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, Emergency Response Brigade, an Iraqi special operations unit that has been conducting training with U.S. forces on the compound for many years."  Either armor from the Iraqi Army or BTR94s from the Federal Police have been provided to at least 1 company of the former Hillah SWAT.  Hillah SWAT was among the first of the provincial forces to be added to MoI’s Emergency Response Brigade when the force started to expand.


The Emergency Response Battalions are probably not fully mechanizing.  More likely they are organizing similar to what the Iraqi Special Operations Force [ISOF] appears to be converting to.  Each battalion of the Emergency Response Force will probably have 2 Assault Companies, only 1 Mechanized Company, and 1 Intelligence & Reconnaissance Company.


The Iraqi Security Forces are in Phase 2 of their development. 

  • During Phase 1 [2006-2010] the US Forces turned over primary internal security to the Iraqi Army.  When the US turned over internal security to the IA, the IA and FP had a total of 16 divisions performing internal security [not including the KRG].
  • During Phase 2 [2011-2015] the IA will turn over primary internal security to the Federal Police while shifting the Army’s focus on external threats.  The consolidation of the ERF with the FP would facilitate this turnover.  Including the 2 KRG Divisions being added to the FP, the probable end-strength of the FP/ERF combined is 18-20 divisions.
  • In Phase 3 [2016-2020] the Federal Police will turn over primary internal security to the provincial Iraqi Police while moving to over-watch and back-up to both the IP for internal and the IA for external defense.  The FP Divisions and ERF Brigades have secondary functions augmenting the Iraqi Army in wartime.  They are part of the de facto IA reserve.


Previously, the Emergency Response Forces were expected to transfer to the Counter-Terrorism Service.  Now it appears the plan has changed and the ERF is now returning to its origins with the Federal Police and is partially mechanizing.  The law authorizing and funding the CTS has been held up for over 2 years because Parliament is worried that it could become a new Republican Guard.  This could also mean the CTS is to be disbanded and that ISOF is returning to the IA…


ISF Brigade OOB as of 31 December 2010.  At this point, most are just speed bumps to a conventional invasion.


This is a pure opinion piece – a rant.  Most of the times I write about what I think the Iraqi Security Forces are doing or report on what they are actually doing.  Some readers think that I agree with what is being done to develop those forces.  Not true.  I think that they are making some very dangerous errors.


Politics – the Ruling Politicians are in Fantasyland


When I outlined my top 5 procurement priorities if I were the Iraqi Minister of Defense in an e-mail, one of my regulars replied:  “Actually DJ your top priority should be the agreement to keep US forces in Iraq after 2011. All the items below are secondary.”  He was quite correct.


However, both the current US and Iraqi administrations apparently do not want to listen to realistic appraisals of the ability of the ISF to defend Iraq in 2012.  The ISF is a good counter-insurgency force but, it is incapable of defending Iraq against a conventional invasion. The ISF was never planned to be ready for external defense in 2012 – that capability was planned for 2020.  Both US and Iraqi politicians chose the 2012 withdraw date without regard to military advice.


The ISF in 2012 will be capable as a counter-insurgency force but, would be a speed-bump to any conventional invasion by any of its neighbors.  I could see a late 2012 Iranian invasion as things stand.  Without the US air defense and armor presence, the IA is dead in less than 2 weeks against Iran.  And the US cannot react fast enough to prevent the fall of Iraq if we are not already there – especially given the political delays.  Iraq needs the US air cover and tripwire forces guaranteeing Iraq for another decade.


Even with every weapon reported on order - delivered tomorrow instead of over the next 4 years - the IA fighting on its own would lose any fight it got into.  Against an Iranian conventional invasion, the ISF would be driven back to the Shatt-al-Arab/Tigris/Diyala river line in the first 48 hours.  The fall of Basrah and Baghdad would occur 5-7 days after the start of the invasion.  Iranian forces would the Euphrates river line south of Baghdad at 1 week with most of the ISF destroyed.


Also, I could see the Turks being given the green-light to occupy the Kurdish region by the Iranians - "To protect the Turkic minority".  While Syria gets Anbar.  There would be a COIN fight for the invaders after that but; insurgents have historically only won when the enemy loses its will or if they have a conventional Army to assist them... 


These are optimistic estimates - it would probably be faster.  The ISF is like the South Korean Forces in June 1950: Without the necissary weapons to be more than a speed bump.  Without the terrain and geographic advantages that Korea had – there will be no Pusan Perimeter.


My priorities for rearming Iraq are not all inclusive – they are just the top 5 weaknesses.  Iraq will still need 10 years to effectively field them.  Maybe longer if the budget isn’t there.  The following priorities are not their only needs – just the 5 most urgent.  [Note:  I would not cancel the existing orders/options – this is just what the follow on focus should be IMO.]


Priority 1 – Real Air Defense


It does not matter how bad the enemy's Air Force is if you have nothing to counter it.  Iraq has no air defense and will not start to field an effective air defense prior to 2018-2020.  That is not just my opinion – it is the stated plan.  In 2012, Iraq will not have a single operational fighter squadron.  Fighters are expensive and the training pipeline for effective combat pilots is 2-3 years after receipt of aircraft to train on.  At least 100 operational fighters are needed with 200 total fighters being optimal given the potential threats.  Iraq also needs a squadron of airborne radar aircraft to provide low-altitude and gap-filler coverage.  These aircraft do not need to be top of the line – they just need to be better than the most likely threats – Iran/Syria.


Iraq is currently negotiating for 18 used French Mirage 2000s and 6 US F16 plus is reported to be considering 24 Chinese J17s.  The Mirages and F16s are a start but, the J17 suffers from the same problem all Russian/Chinese aircraft have.  Russian engines only last half as long as western jet engines and Chinese engines are either Russian or based on Russian.  Put that together with the engine overhaul facilities being in Russia or China, with the exorbitant prices and delays in spares/overhauls, means half would be grounded at any given time.  Spares and engine overhauls are where the Russians and Chinese make their profit.


Currently the US provides Iraq’s air defense and there has been no reported agreement to keep that air cover beyond 2011.  If I were the Iraqi Government, I would have already commenced negotiations for 8-10 USAF or NATO Fighter Squadrons [with AWACS support] to remain until the Iraqi Air Force can replace them with OPERATIONAL squadrons.  I would put 50 percent of the equipment procurement budget towards this problem until they have 200 fighters with sufficient spares and munitions to be operational.


Priority 2 – Field Artillery: and I am not talking mortars.


At this point the Iraqi Army could be destroyed by stand-off howitzers since they have nothing to counter-battery enemy howitzers.  Considering that their most likely enemy is an infantry heavy force - they need this firepower to offset the greater Iranian troop numbers as well. This means they need more howitzers than Iran has.


Each division needs a minimum of 72 howitzers, preferably 155mm.  Not just the IA requires these.  All division planned to be used in frontal roles in a total mobilization require these.  That means that the IA will need to stand up separate Field Artillery Regiments to augment the Federal Police, Border Enforcement, and Kurdish Divisions in wartime or that the Ministry of Interior/KRG will need to buy their own modern artillery.  About 3,000 howitzers and/or long-range [accurate] multiple rocket launchers are needed.


The only howitzers in the current Iraqi inventory are salvaged pre-war and are of questionable functionality.  They have not been reported firing since they started showing up 2 years ago.  They are probably worn-out training dummies. The US is providing 120 towed and 24 self-propelled 155mm howitzers in 2011 – enough for 2 divisions.


NATO standard 155mm howitzers are common and Iraq needs 3,000 of them and their ammo.  About 20 percent of them should be self-propelled.  I would put 20 percent of the equipment procurement budget towards this problem until they have 2,000 howitzers with sufficient spares and munitions to be operational.  After that I would reduce to 10 percent until the remaining 1,000 howitzers and/or Multiple Rocket Launchers are bought and use the remaining 10 percent for other needs.  The US does not have to be the only source, some of the best are made in South Africa. 


Priority 3 – Anti-Tank Guided Weapons


At this point the only element of the ISF capable of defeating enemy tanks is 9th Division and that limited amount of armor cannot be everywhere at once.  Company-sized armor spearheads could punch thru the IA Infantry Brigades as the IA is currently armed.  The only capability Iraqi infantry have to deal with enemy armor is short-ranged RPGs.  The only ATGWs currently on order are the Barrier ATGWs for the 350 combat versions of the BTR4 on order and they only carry 2-4 missiles each.  Why the Iraqis have not ordered larger orders of the relatively cheap ATGWs for their infantry heavy force is baffling.


Providing 100-200 ATGWs of TOW II level or better per infantry Battalion would force Iran to concentrate its armor into Brigade or larger sized formations to break-thru. This is 350,000-500,000 missiles including MoI Battalions with secondary external security roles.


This reduces the number of potential axis’s of attack.  Only 7 of the 48 Iranian Divisions are heavy.  Combined with the need to concentrate at least 2 heavy Divisions opposite any IA heavy Division, the missiles in the infantry forces would reduce the number of potential armor attack points by an order of magnitude.  By mounting them on vehicles – even pickups, they could be shifted within the Division to concentrate fire as needed.


I would put 10 percent of the equipment procurement budget towards this problem until filled.  I would provide each non-tank equipped battalion with 25 launchers and 100-200 missiles.  Using existing vehicles – even pickups – they would provide each of the battalion’s heavy weapons companies with the ability to stop armored Battalions and even possibly Brigades from breaking through and seriously complicate enemy planning.  At this time only the tank and BTR4 equipped(ing) Battalions have any realistic anti-tank capability – the rest are just grease for tank treads.


Priority 4 – TANKS


The only place that the IA has a concentrated armor capability is Baghdad.  And that is a slowly converting Armor Division.  With the exception of terrain limitations, the rest of Iraq is wide open to armor attack.  Iraq needs a mobile counter-attack force to make the opposition have to further concentrate their armor.


Once the 9th Division is up to full strength, a 3-heavy Iranian Division force would be needed to strike at Baghdad.  But south of Baghdad there is nothing but terrain to slow the Iranian armor down.  If 7th Division does fully mechanize and deploys to Basrah then the Iranians would need 2-heavy Divisions to strike for Basrah.  Those 2 IA Divisions are the only heavy forces potentially available to Iraq and Iran has 7 heavy Divisions.  This does not include potential Syrian participation – with the Israeli front pining most Syrian forces – Syria could invade Iraq as an Iranian ally with a maximum of 4 heavy Divisions.


Once the IA has 5 heavy Divisions or more [1,000 tanks], the Iranian armor options start to shrink rapidly.  But that will not be anytime soon.  I would put 10 percent of the equipment procurement budget towards these Tanks until 4 Armored Divisions are upgraded and use existing/delivering Armored Personnel Carriers for the infantry component.  Then I would shift the funds to mixed Tanks/APCs and convert the 6 Mechanized Divisions.  About 2,400 Tanks for the 10 heavy Divisions are needed.


I would not buy all M1A1 tanks as the IA is doing now.  I would buy large numbers of cheaper used operational T72s as-is or M60s up-gunned to 120mm NATO smoothbore guns.  After getting the numbers, I would then modernize the older tanks.  [“Perfection is the enemy of good enough.”]


Priority 5 - Attack Helicopters


Existing orders/options for 50 SA342s, 50 EC635s, and 50 Bell 407s provide adequate Scout/Utility helicopter forces.  Iraq needs to follow this up with a buy of 4 squadrons of real dedicated Attack Helicopters [100] to provide the anti-tank/anti-infantry mobile quick reaction force for any enemy break-thru.


I would put 10 percent of the equipment procurement budget towards these.  As expensive as these are - they will not have enough to deal with more than 1 major break-thru at a time.  Aircraft are grounded by weather that does not significantly affect ground forces which is a potential limit on their usefulness.  This is why they are 5th in priority and the infantry's ATGWs are 3rd.  If there are limited funds, the ATGWs come first.  Once these are bought, then I would shift to expand the transport helicopter force to expand the number of infantry air-assault forces.




Without the weapons and training on using those weapons, it does not matter how good your troops are.  It is like using lance armed horse cavalry against panzers in early World War II – an ineffective waste of good troops.  Iraqi Forces are missing or grossly under-equipped in several key areas.  Even Kuwait - the smallest country bordering Iraq - will outgun the ISF in all five of these key capabilities in 2012.  Iraq will not be able to effectively defend itself until 2020 against its most likely enemies – that was always the plan.


Related Link:  ISF Order of Battle

IA wire

Iraqi Army Divisions and their Combat Battalions - January 2011.


While there is RUMINT [Rumor Intelligence] that the Iraqi Army’s 7th Infantry Division in western Anbar is mechanizing, there is no hard data confirming or denying this.  The RUMINT claims that some of the M113s that Iraq is acquiring are to be used to mechanize this division.


Normally, RUMINT that thin would not rate an article.  However,

  • The 7th Division is planned to be a heavy division.  The only real question over the last 3 years has been:  When will it upgrade? 
  • The 7th Division has armor maintenance facilities but, so does Maysan and Baghdad and the priority has been Baghdad.  So far. 
  • While Anbar is a threat border region, so are the Iranian sectors and they are in greater need of armor, Anbar has more considerably more depth to defend in.  However, Anbar also has ample room for training mechanized in the field. 
  • The 7th Division could be planning to relocate in part or whole after upgrading and training.  This would eliminate the argument that this is the wrong area to upgrade. 
  • The 7th Division is part of the Quick Intervention Corps like the upgrading 9th Armored Division.  It could be taking over the mechanized reaction role for all of northern and western Iraq. 
  • The recent movement of the US Army’s 4/10 Cavalry Squadron of the 3/4 Heavy Brigade Combat Team from Basrah to Al Asad to help train the IA 7th Division.  Anbar has a US Light Infantry Brigade already so why the additional battalion?  The only thing this heavy battalion brings to the training that was not already there are Tracked Mechanized Combat Vehicles and their methods of employment.  Since 4/10 Cavalry has only about 3 months left in Iraq – this indicates that the IA 7th Division is upgrading soon.  Of note, the training reported so far is only infantry training. [This report is what tilted the balance.]


While 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles are being provided this year, only 440 are Armored Personnel Carriers [APCs].  The rest are a mix of 120mm mortar carriers, armored ambulances, field surgery vehicles, command vehicles, and cargo carriers.  The majority of the 440 M113 APCs are to go to the 9th Armored Division and some are going to the 56/6 (Baghdad) Brigade.  There has been some redistribution of armor and mechanized equipment to 6th, 3rd, and 8th Divisions.  3 battalions of BMP1s, 1 of T55s, and 2 of M113s are transferring to those divisions so far.


However, when combined with the remaining BMP1s, MTLBs, Talhas, T55s, and T72s being redistributed from the 9th Armored Division, there is still more than enough armor becoming available this year to upgrade the 7th Division to mechanized status.  The remaining tanks and M113s becoming available are enough for 5 Tank Regiments organized on a modified US Combined Arms Battalion structure.  7th Division already has 2 BMP1 equipped battalions and 2 more could be converted from transferred equipment.  There are also enough M113, Talha, and MTLB APCs for 4-6 more battalions.


This could mean that the 7th Division is converting to 3 Mechanized Brigades of 1 Tank Regiment [CAB] and 2 Mechanized Battalions plus an Armored Brigade of 2 Tank Regiments [CABs] and 1 Mechanized Battalion.  However, the mechanized/armor distribution in the IA indicates partial upgrades, so the 7th Division is more likely to be only partially upgraded this year.


There are 2 circumstances that would support full mechanization of 7th Division this year.  They could be assuming the role of northern mechanized reserve or relocating to a more strategic location after completing upgrade and training.  Given their location, they are more likely to be relocated to Basrah after upgrade.  Basrah is strategic and has no defensive depth which means it requires a heavy division.


The current indications are that 7-8 IA divisions are planned to be armored or mechanized.  The 4 currently identified as upgrading are 9th, 6th, 3rd, and 8th.  The 4 additional candidate divisions for upgrade are 7th, 11th, 5th, and probably the 1st.  These are listed in apparent priority.  If the 7th Division is fully mechanizing, then it will probably relocate to Basrah to augment or replace the 14th Infantry Division.  Even if only partially mechanizing, the 7th Division would be available for partial redeployment as part of the QIC.


Related:  ISF OOB


Brigade OOB as of 31 December 2010


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


Two articles, “The Unauthorized Third Leg of the Troika” and “Iraqi Aviation Update December 2010  were addressed separately and will not be addressed here.   Highlights in this update include:

  • 25/17 Brigade CALFEX – salvaged FA non-operational?; IA Surge in Boot Camp; IA Chemical Defense Regiment; Increase in EOD for route-clearance; 4-54/6 Battalion upgraded with BMP1; Instructors sought for M109A5 Regiment to be formed; 1st Field Artillery Pre-Commanders Course; Light mortars trained by Infantry School; 9th Division HQ and East Wing of Armor School move to Besmaya; 63 M1A1s now in IA.
  • New F16s and used Mirage 2000s to be bought; An-32s delivering; Trainer Bell 407s delivered.
  • Second PB delivering; 1st Marine Brigade moving to Bucca.
  • Carabinieri training of FP continues; Basrah Emergency Police tribal levees being disbanded?; 120 Oil Police Directorate officer instructors graduated Carabinieri training.


Iraqi Army


The combined arms live-fire exercise of the 25/17 Brigade on 30 November included helicopters, Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance, Commandos in an Air Assault, plus a Search and Rescue Exercise.  While D30 howitzers are in the footage from the exercise, they are not seen firing.  To date, none of the salvage howitzers have been seen firing or with signs they have fired – just in static display and parades.  It is entirely likely that they are being used as training dummies and are not operational.


A surge in Iraqi basic training has been in progress.  In late November and early December, Taji and Habbaniyah graduated almost 3,000 from boot camp.  Even the Engineer School, Bomb Disposal School and Field Engineer Regiment were pressed into service training new recruits and graduated 200 on 30 November.  While reporting from the other training centers is limited, this indicates the size of the surge in training:  "Presently, Habbaniya has grown into a Regional Training Center, supporting both the 1st and 7th Iraqi Army Divisions, training about 12,000 soldiers this year.”   An IA division is only about 15,000 personnel and Habbaniyah only supports 2 of the 14 commissioned IA Divisions.  This indicates a significant increase in IA manning is in progress.


The Iraqi Army is building its first Chemical Defense Regiment.  "The regiment began training as a company in October 2009. Within a month, the Ministry of Defense designated it as a full 300-member regiment, complete with two companies and a headquarters. Although, the regiment now only has 110 trained chemical defense soldiers, 150 new recruits – fresh out of Basic Combat Training – are being trained as chemical defense specialists to join the ranks."  Eventually each division and each corps will require a Chemical Defense Regiment-equivalent.


The 12th Division’s Field Engineer Regiment is reported to have 2 Explosive Ordinance Disposal Companies.  There has been reporting of increasing the strength of the IA route clearance forces, but, this could be just a local modification vice indicating a general upgrade to the 15 Field Engineer Regiments.  It also could be an indicator of a force-wide increase in EOD companies.


The 4-54/6 Battalion has or is upgrading to mechanized with hand-me-down BMP1s from the upgrading 9th Division.  Apparently the 4-54/6 Battalion needs maintenance personnel [bottom page 7 in arabic] with experience on the BMP1s.  Three of the 4 brigades in 6th Division have now been identified as receiving tracked armor indicating this division is next in priority after the 9th Division.  Four of the 6 battalions identified as receiving upgrades from hand-me-down 9th Division armor have been in 6th Division so far.  The upgraded battalions identified are:  T55 Tanks in a battalion of the 12/3 Brigade, M113 APCs in 2 battalions of the 56/6 Brigade, and BMP1 MICVs in the 2-22/6, 4-54/6, and 1-33/8 Battalions.  These upgrades indicate one division in each of the 4 planned corps’ are being upgraded to a mix of mechanized and motorized:  9th Mechanized Division in the Quick Intervention Corps, 6th Mech/Motor Infantry in the central, 3rd Mech/Motor Infantry in the north, and 8th Mech/Motor Infantry in the south.


The first batch of BTR4s was to deliver in December and the second batch of the Ukrainian armored vehicles will be delivered to Iraq in early 2011.  This first delivery has not been confirmed but, the BTR4s are supposed to participate in the 6 January Army Day Parade.  The BTR4s are expected to be employed in the Battalions’ Scout Platoons, Brigades’ Scout Companies, and the Divisions’ Reconnaissance Battalions.  The only identified IA battalion receiving these is the 3-35/9 Battalion whose personnel have returned from training on BTR-4E in Ukraine.  [IA calls Scouts, Recon, and Cavalry units “Commandos”.]


Iraqi artillery is progressing and instructors are being sought for M109A5s.  "The M109A5 Artillery Trainer shall create and prepare a 28 day Program of Instruction (POI) to provide collective training for one Iraqi Army M109A5 Artillery Regiment consisting of 3 batteries. The M109A5 Artillery Trainer will train one artillery battery consisting of 6 - M109A5s (SP)(155MM), Fire Direction Center and Forward Observers at a time."  This confirms the formation of an M109A5 equipped regiment is planned and previous reporting indicated this will be part of the 9th Division.


“Seventeen Iraqi Army majors graduated from the first Iraqi Field Artillery Pre-Commanders Course taught at the Iraqi Field Artillery School in Abu Ghraib Dec. 1.  The four-month pre-commanders course qualifies officers in the Iraqi field artillery to be placed into a commander's role.” “The goal is for the officers to develop the skills and knowledge required to perform as the commander of a regiment.”  This is the start of training battalion/regiment commanders for the Iraqi Army field artillery.


More junior FA officers are also being trained:  "Iraqi Army soldiers with 6th Iraqi Army stand by prior to their Iraqi Army artillery school graduation ceremony in Baghdad, Dec. 14. Iraqi Army soldiers completed a four week artillery school."  This could indicate that 6th Division is the next after 9 Division to upgrade to howitzers.  All of the graduates in the photo are 1Lts.


Of note, the 81mm and 60mm mortar training is apparently being done by the IA Infantry School vice the FA School.   Personnel from the 1st, 11th and 17th Divisions were being trained on 81mm Mortars by the Infantry School. 


The Iraq Armor School, Eastern Wing, moved from Camp Taji to the Combined Arms School at the Besmaya Combat Training Center on 24 November.  The school’s 69-vehicle convoy moved 320 soldiers to the BCTC along with thousands of training aids and equipment, including everything from beds to tanks.  M1A1 tank training is in the process of turning over to Iraqi Army personnel.


The initial order of 140 M1A1 tanks and most of the M113s are to be employed by 9th Mechanized Division which has moved its headquarters to FOB Hammer – next to the Armor School at Besmaya. [IA calls it “Armored” but, US considers it to be mechanized.]  Another batch of 12 M1A1 Abrams tanks purchased by the Government of Iraq from the United States arrived on 22 December at Umm Qasr. Once the tanks are de-processed, this will total 63 tanks integrated into the Iraqi Army.   All 140 M1A1s of the first order are expected to be delivered by the end of 2011.


Iraqi Aviation


Iraqi press reported and Iraqi government confirmed that Iraq’s Council of Ministers authorized the Defense Minister to negotiate with Washington to buy six new F-16 combat jets and continue negotiations with the French side to buy 18 used Mirage 2000 jets as of 2012.


According to Antonov State Enterprise, the first three An-32 aircraft will be delivered to Iraq by the end of this year [2010], and another three each in the years 2011 and 2012. 


The Iraqi Army Aviation Command received three Bell T-407 training helicopters on 11 December.  These unarmed helicopters will be used to train pilots with the Iraqi Army Air Corps’ 21st Squadron to fly the Iraqi Armed 407 which is an Armed Scout with forward-firing ground attack capabilities.  Additionally the IA-407 is equipped with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and data-link capabilities. A total of 27 IA-407s are scheduled for delivery to the 21st Squadron in late 2011 and early 2012.


Iraqi Navy and Marines


The second of 15 ordered Swiftship Patrol Boats is delivering.  "Military Sealift Command-chartered heavy lift crane ship MV Ocean Titan delivered the second of a new class of U.S.-built patrol boats to Manama, Bahrain, today. The 115-foot boat is destined for Iraq, where it will be turned over to the Iraqi navy and used primarily to patrol coastal waters and provide security for the country's oil platforms.”


The Iraqi 1st Marine Brigade is moving to Bucca.  Bucca is converting to a commercial center with offices, warehouses, aviation, and fuel services to support investors.  By basing Iraqi Marines at this site, the Iraqi Government is providing security for the new commercial center.  This is also the first mention of a 1st Marine Brigade, which infers there is a 2nd Marine Brigade forming.  Camp Bucca was turned over to the Iraqi Marines in July 2010.


Ministry of Interior


Phase III Carabinieri training continues in the Iraqi Federal Police.  "Members of the Iraqi Federal Police and Zerevani, Kurdish regional government police forces, graduated from a specialized NATO Training Mission-Iraq training course Dec. 19 at the Federal Police Special Training Academy at Camp Dublin. They join more than 9,400 members of the Iraqi Federal Police that have graduated since its initiation in 2007. This is the 15th Federal Police class graduation with 749 students from Basrah, Baghdad, Mosul and regions in northern Iraq."


It is possible that some of the Basrah Emergency Police tribal levees are being disbanded.  "Iraqi tribesman prepare their weapons during a weapon handover event to the Iraqi government in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad December 11, 2010. Several Iraqi tribes handed over their weapons, acquired during the Saddam Hussein era, to the Iraqi government, as part of a security plan to improve the security situation in southern Iraq."


NATO Training Mission Iraq graduated 120 Oil Police Directorate officer instructors on 9 December 2010.  This is the first class of Carabinieri trained Oil Police. 

DJ Elliott