2009 2010 2011 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013
The Iraqi Security Forces are still a work in progress. While they are capable of internal security, the ISF is not capable of a successful external defense against any neighbors. Iraqi Ministry of Defense (IMoD) continues to officially claim they will meet the 2020 target date for completing external defense upgrades but, unofficial IMoD estimates are 2024-2027.
Joint Command Structure: Most of the various ISF Services and service headquarters do not direct the combat forces in the field. The Operational and Area Commands fill the role of Joint Army/Corps commands operating under the National Operations Command. These headquarters are mostly complete except for a proposed merger of Ninawa and Anbar Operational Commands into Jazeera Operational Command. All subordinate units to these Joint Operational and Area Commands are trained, equipped, and provided by the service component commands.
Iraqi Army (IA) Ground Forces: The IA is in the process of converting to external defense. While all Battalions and Brigades are structurally complete – most combat Battalions/Brigades are planned to convert. The IA has only 10 Tank Regiments [Battalions] of the 61 needed to fill out the planned 3 Armor and 8 Mechanized Divisions. Discounting the light APCs, the IA has 35 of 71 planned Mechanized Battalions. At Division-level the IA is still missing 50 percent of its planned artillery and Engineers plus their logistics support units. Division Anti-Tank elements are planned but not formed. The IA Corps-level combat support units and augment units to the FP for external defense have only started forming [Artillery, Mortars, Anti-Aircraft, Anti-Tank, etc].
Air Defense Command (ADC): The IA ADC was only established in 2011. At this point ADC only has 2 of 4 planned Sector Operations Centers operational, no surface to air missiles, and has only started fielding salvaged anti-aircraft guns. Iraq has no real air defense.
Army Air Corps (AAC): The AAC is the rotary-wing force supporting the ground forces. The AAC is currently composed of 10 Squadrons of a planned 23-24. Only 1 Combat Aviation Brigade has been reported of 7 planned. Each Combat Aviation Brigade is to have 1 Scout, 1 Attack, and 1 Transport Squadron. The AAC College at Habbaniyah includes an Aviation Training Brigade(-).
Iraqi Air Force (IqAF): The IqAF is still in its infancy - Only 7 of 24-25 Squadrons planned. Effectively the IqAF is a training, transport, and reconnaissance force with little to no air defense or ground attack capability. Over the next 2 years the IA is expected to add a Jet Training Squadron and a Fighter Squadron with another Fighter squadron to follow 2 years later. A minimum of 5 Fighter Squadrons are required for the air defense of Iraq – which means the IqAF is 10-12 years from having a minimum air defense at this rate of fighter purchases.
Iraqi Navy/Marines (IqN/IqM): The Iraqi Navy and Marines is organized into a Naval Brigade and a Marine Brigade with signs of additional Naval and Marine Brigades being formed. Probable planned end force is a Naval Division and a Marine Division.
Iraqi General Depot Command (IGDC): The IGDC provides the Army-/Corps-level logistic support to the Operational Forces and trains/equips the divisional/brigade level IA logistics brigades/battalions. 4 of 6 planned National Depots [Corps Sustainment Brigades] are formed or forming. [The seventh is provided by the FP.] At the Army-Level the Taji Joint Base Factory Complex [2 Brigades] provides the Maintenance support – might expand further.
Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command (ITDC): ITDC is structurally complete. Provides training from Basic to Advanced.
Counter Terrorism Service (CTS): The CTS is the parent service for the Iraqi Special Operations Force. Normally ISOF is under NOC and has dedicated AAC aviation support from the 32nd Aviation Brigade. ISOF would provide Commando Brigades to the Corps in wartime for recon and airmobile special operations support. 8-9 of 21 planned combat Battalions are operational – 2 of 7 planned Combat Brigades.
Federal Police (FP): The FP is absorbing the province paramilitary Emergency Police and reorganizing into 14 Divisions each with 4 FP and 1 administratively attached Emergency Response Brigade. ERBs are normally under direct command of NOC while the FP Divisions are under the Operational and Area Commands. While enough EP Brigades have been “nationalized” to provide line forces for 6 FP Divisions, only 4 of 14 planned FP [Motorized Infantry] Divisions have been reported commissioned. [16 Divisions if the KRG Task Force Police were added.] Divisional Support Brigades are well under strength in the 4 existing FP Divisions. The FP also has enough elements to form 2 Security Divisions. The FP Sustainment Brigade provides the 7th Corps-level logistic support and the FP Divisions provide Infantry forces [augmented by IA FA, AAA, AT and support] in wartime. The IA provides the heavies and the FP provides the infantry line in the Frontal Corps during an external war.
Department of Border Enforcement (DBE): Even in peacetime, the DBE focus is on border security. Most DBE is static security operating out of border forts but there are some motorized and maritime forces. DBE Regions I, II, and IV are each divisional in strength while seriously short logistics support. Regions III and V are only a division in strength when combined. [Of note, Region I is under de facto control of the KRG.]
Oil Police Directorate (OPD) and Facilities Protection Service (FPS): Organized into 4 OPD and 3 FPS Divisions, these forces are static internal security forces and not under the Operational Commands. These services are unlikely to be used in external defense. Structure of these forces and current status has not been reported.
Kurdish Forces: Effectively an IA Frontal-Army equivalent force. Still in training and short armor compared to the IA, the Kurdish Regional Guard is a Mountain Infantry Army of 2 forming Corps – 5 active and 2 reserve Division-equivalents. [The only authorized reserve military in Iraq.] The 2 Task Force Police Divisions are equivalent to FP and were to become FP Divisions at one time – cadre elements received Carabiniere training at FP Schools in Baghdad. Iraqi DBE Region I is de facto under Kurdish Regional Government control. The KRG even operates its own Oil Police and Facilities Protection Service.
The ISF is a work in progress – at least 1, probably 2 decades from completion.
The problem with this update is that there are few confirmed reports of additional armor buys since the last update. Most of this update is extrapolation of what will be acquired and what may be contracted but has not been reported.
A factor that most overlook in analyzing the future IA is that they look at the IA in isolation. To analyze the planned IA force you have to look at all of the service components and their functions. The IA is just 1 of the services that provide ground forces in event of an external war:
- The Iraq Army provides the heavy armor/mechanized, airborne/airmobile, and fire-support forces. Currently the IA is 14 divisions of which 3 are designated mechanized and 1 is designated armor despite being 12 tank regiments short. 11 divisions have tracked armor/mechanized battalions indicating plans to become heavy and 1 division has elements designated airborne and airmobile. These forces and ISOF would be the attack/counterattack forces in an external fight.
- The Department of Border Enforcement provides the fortified forward infantry screen. The DBE is 5 regions [divisions] however, I Region is de facto Kurdish Region controlled and V Region [Saudi Border] is grossly under strength. Effectively 3 infantry divisions minus artillery. Static defense.
- The Federal Police provide infantry forces in wartime. While the FP is only 4 divisions now – the FP is absorbing the provincial Emergency Police. Building to 13-14 infantry divisions. Defensive forces.
- The Iraqi Marines are responsible for the defense of the Al Fao peninsula and coastal/port defense. While only 2 brigades now – probably growing to an infantry division. Defensive amphibious force.
- The Counter Terrorism Service [ISOF] is the Special Operations Component. Only 2 reinforced brigades now but, probably growing to 7 brigades – 1 per corps. High-end reconnaissance and airmobile counterattack force.
The extra infantry components from the Ministry of Interior mean that the IA will be eventually be skewed towards armor/mechanized forces. This will not happen fast. Current estimates are 2024-2027 before the services reach their planned strengths.
Where are the Tanks?
The IA only has 10 tank regiments – the tank complement of only 2 mechanized divisions. Yet they have designated 1 armor and 3 mechanized divisions officially and have 2 more divisions mechanizing. Mechanized divisions are planned to have 5 tank regiments each while armor divisions are planned to have 7 tank regiments each. 5 of the existing tank regiments are in the 9th “Armor” Division – 2 tank regiments short of plan. 12th Infantry Division has 2 tank regiments. 2nd Motorized Division, 10th Mechanized Division, and 14th Motorized [mechanizing] Division have 1 tank regiment each. This means they are short a minimum of 22 tank regiments [770 tanks] just to fill the existing 1 armor, 3 mechanized, and 2 mechanizing divisions at this time. 3 of the existing tank regiments are currently in divisions not mechanizing indicating a minimum of 8 divisions to be armor or mech. Apparent priority order is:
- 9th Armor Division – short 2 tank regiments.
- 8th, 10th, and 5th Mechanized Divisions – short 14 tank regiments.
- 14th and 7th Divisions [mechanizing] – short 10 mechanized battalions and 9 tank regiments. 4 mechanized battalions converting.
- 6th, 12th, 2th, 3th, and 11th Divisions – only a division’s worth of tracked armor plus 2 divisions’s worth of light wheeled APCs between them. 3 tank regiments and 9 mechanized battalions plus 26 battalions equipped with light APCs.
- 1st, 4th, and 17th Divisions show no indications of plans to upgrade to armor or mech. 4th Division appears to be converting to airmobile/airborne.
The lowest estimate of tanks needed based on 3 armor and 6 mechanized divisions is 51 tank regiments [1,785 tanks]. The highest estimate of tanks needed based on 5 armor and 6 mechanized divisions is 65 tank regiments [2,275]. The probable current plan is for 3 armor and 8 mechanized divisions requiring 61 tank regiments [2,135]. The IA has fewer than 350 tanks yet only 6 more tanks are on order [M1A1s]. Where are the other tanks? Where are they coming from? When?
- The Iraqis have turned down Russian T90s - Just like the Russian Army did. T90s were originally designated T72Bu – T72 upgraded. The limited upgrades are not worth the higher price.
- Iraq has contracted with Czech Republic for T72 upgrade facilities – not necessary for the 4 under strength T72 tank regiments existing which indicates large numbers of T72s are planned but, there are no reports of further T72 acquisitions. Probable sources include Czech, Ukraine, and Poland.
- The 6 additional M1A1s being acquired from the US are not enough to equip a company but, indicate a continued interest in more M1A1s.
- While interest has apparently waned, Iraq still has an option for 350 Hellenic Army M60A3s [10 Regiments – tank component of 2 Mechanized Divisions].
Indications of planned tanks and reported contracts are conflicting. Iraqi policy is to acquire key equipment from more than 1 country to prevent any 1 country from crippling them by cutting of spare parts supplies. Which means the probable planned mix of tanks are T72M4, M1A1 and possibly M60A3. The problem is that only 6 M1A1 tanks are reported in acquisition which indicates significant tank deliveries are probably not going to happen anytime soon. However, at least 8 IA battalions have been reported training on “tanks” including T72s which indicates a minimum of 280 tanks planned to deliver in the next 2 years. The reported training and absence of significant tank acquisition reporting are not in sync.
More Armored Personnel Carriers?
Iraqi Ministry of Defense tends to prioritize equipment acquisitions by types. APCs have had the priority. If you count the light APCs [DZIK3/Otokar], the IA has enough APCs for the 11 planned mechanized and armor divisions. However, reporting indicates the IA plans to replace the light APCs and transfer them to infantry divisions, the Federal Police, and the Directorate of Border Enforcement, plus Iraq has been donating light APCs to other countries for use in counter-insurgency. This indicates at least 1,000 APCs are to be acquired in addition to the delivered and delivering [BTR4] APCs. This number could easily double if the 2 infantry divisions are converted to heavier APC equipped motorized.
Iraq turned down buying BMP4s from Russia and is denying buying 500 MTLBs from Bulgaria. It is also possible that they are trying to acquire more M113s from US EDA. They are shopping but, no confirmed acquisitions. If the IA was only planning on 7 or less heavy divisions – they would not require additional tracked APCs.
While self-propelled mortars, howitzers, and MRLs are not essential, they can use towed – they are more effective for supporting mechanized and armor forces. The IA has only 3 battalions of M1064 SP Mortars, 3 battalions of M109 SP Howitzers and has been adding 107mm MRL launchers to MTLBs for fire support. The IA is only 50 percent in divisional artillery. Each IA division is to have 72 120mm mortars and 72 howitzers/MRLs plus the IA has started forming mortar and howitzer/MRL battalions for FP/DBE fire support and Corps’ Field Artillery Brigades. An additional ~1,100 120mm mortars and ~2,100 howitzers/MRLs are required to fill out the planned force. Of those missing mortars and howitzers/MRLs and based on 11 IA heavy divisions and 7 Joint Corps - approximately 700 each of self-propelled mortars and howitzers/MRLs could be planned.
The IA tends to buy specialist vehicles last in priority. Planned numbers of command, engineering, chemical defense, recon, and support vehicles are not clear in reporting. What is clear is the numbers are insufficient for current force structure let alone what is planned.
While it has been reported that the IA plans to form an anti-tank guided weapon battalion – there are no reports of equipment or organization. The BTR4s that are being bought are being fielded in mechanized battalions vice the previously reported anti-tank/recon/commando role.
The IA is still a work in progress as it converts to its external defense role. Many components are not built…
Related: Iraq Order of Battle
This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during January 2013. The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 January 2013.
- IA Divisional Artillery at 50%; ATGW Bns to be added to divisions; NiOC and AOC may be merged; 4-5 of the 7 Joint Corps [Operational Commands] have Sustainment Brigades formed or forming; 5th Mechanized Division getting BTR4s; Corps-level artillery starting to form; indications of additional T72s acquire; Weapons continue to be salvaged.
- Funding for F16s; Possible purchase of AH-1Z/UH-1Y; Kut AB completing support structure; 3 ARH407 delivered.
- New Naval Infantry Brigade established?; Stromboli class AOR to deliver from Egypt.
IMod published an extended version of the weekly Khaima Magazine for New Years. Significant items concerning the Iraqi Army include:
- The army consists of 14 divisions and is now complete in terms of organizational structure. [This confirms no fifteenth division commissioned despite press reports to contrary.]
- The training plans for 2012 were not fulfilled due to the situation along the Syrian border which meant that units meant to train-retrain were instead deployed. The aim is to have one brigade per division in training.
- Three divisions were upgrade from infantry to mechanized in this year [5th, 8th, and 10th]. [IMoD’s definition of mech is different than mine – I also list 7th and 14th Divisions. By either definition they are short at least 16 tank regiments – 560 tanks.]
- The 9th Division was upgraded from mechanized to armored division this year.
- Every division equipped with artillery battalions and just in the last weeks 10 battalions finished their training on the US 155mm artillery. All units now have both heavy artillery battalions as well as light artillery 120mm [mortars]. [This means 2 of the 4 planned field artillery regiments per division have been commissioned. Note that the additional US howitzers have not been mentioned by DSCA.]
- All the divisions now have their support structures including logistics and central maintenance factory [Maintenance Battalion], as well as combat engineers and mechanical & electrical engineers.
- Introducing anti-tank missile battalions, since we are a defensive nation nowadays.
- IMoD studying the possibility of establishing the "Jazira Command" to control the desert / border areas with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria as it’s a very specialized area which needs to synergize the logistics and intelligence sharing. They envisage adding the border guard units to this command. [Rumored plan to merge Anbar and Ninawa Operational Commands confirmed.]
- IMoD envisages arming the police and national police with equipment similar to the army in future. The plan is to hand over internal security completely to the interior ministry soon. With potential for the army to intervene in internal security only in emergencies in future, and for the interior ministry to support the defense ministry in external crises vice versa. [As the IA upgrades – older IA equipment will be handed down to MoI.]
- Tigris Operations Command was created out of the old Diyala Operations Command and includes the 4th Infantry, 5th Mechanized, and 12th Infantry Divisions as well as the Diyala, Salahudin, and Kirkuk police departments. The corps has put together a "support" brigade. [This is the fourth corps-level support/sustainment brigade reported formed – 5 if the Federal Police Sustainment Brigade is included. Two more are probably planned or forming at Tallil and Shaibah.]
- The 5th Division is being equipped with BTR4s which are armed with 30mm cannon and a missile system. 1 battalion has finished training and the second battalion is training on the BTR4s. 62 vehicles have been assigned so far. [Either the 5th Mechanized Division is to be light mechanized or only 70% of the BTR4s purchased are to go to 5th. Either way – the BTR4s are not going to the Commandos as was once planned.]
- Every infantry brigade has a 120mm mortar battery.
- Every operations command was also equipped with mortars of various origins. [Beginnings of Corps-level artillery units.]
- From salvaged equipment the following units were established: 5 artillery battalions of 152mm, 130mm and 122mm guns. 1 rocket battalion of 122mm artillery rockets. 1 rocket battalion of light 107mm rockets.
- Every division now has a 155mm artillery battalion (either towed or self propelled) - 3 self propelled and 10 towed.
- Kirkush middle field factory for the repair and maintenance of various classes of vehicles. The unit repairs and overhauls vehicles as well as sends out repair and recovery teams in support of the 5th Mechanized Division. The unit is part of the mechanical and electrical engineers directorate of the army. The factory also repaired 105mm guns (Tank or howitzer?) and has began using the IDN maintenance/part management system which is now used across the defense ministry. [Part of the Corps-level Support Brigade for TOC. Only 105mm guns reported are old pack howitzers or the option for 350 M60A3s from the Hellenic Army.]
Khaima Magazine from 16 January included the following items concerning the IA:
- The 35th Brigade has organized training for tank crews on the T72 which has recently entered service with the 1st armored battalion. [There are at least 2 T72 Tank Regiments more than reported numbers of T72s in the IA support – which suggests additional T72s have been acquired, possibly from Czech.]
- The mechanical and electrical engineer’s corps exhibition of the results of the fifth salvage campaign. 290 pieces of armor, artillery, rocket launchers, mortars, anti-aircraft guns were salvaged in this 5th campaign. 18x 57mm S60 guns. 7x HUMVEE fitted with 107mm MRL. 3x personnel carriers fitted with dual cannons. 14x twin cannons fitted to Silverado trucks. 14x DshK machine guns. 24x 60mm mortars. 12x ASP8 recoilless rifles. 100x RPG7. 45x assorted vehicles abandoned on former US bases. 6x light recovery vehicles. 2x heavy recovery vehicles. 2x 122mm BM21 launchers 2x HUMVEES for troop exhibitions salvaged MTLBs from scrap and fitted with 107mm rockets in early 2013, an additional 12 BM21s will be completed more salvage campaigns will continue in 2013 these salvage campaigns not only provide low cost equipment for temporary use for the army, but also help rebuild the technical cadres of the engineers and their experiences. The guns have new barrels and the vehicles new engines and electrics the weapons are as new, but cost much less than buying new equipment.
- In an interview with commander of the 18/5 Mechanized Brigade the following items were mentioned: It is an important brigade in Diyala tasked with the rapid interdiction of terrorists. 18/5 Brigade consists of 4 mechanized battalions spread over the roads from baquba to kan'an and baladruz as well as the area reaching to the border with Baghdad operations command. 1st battalion completed their training on BTR4s and the second battalion is now undergoing training at Besmaya.
The Ministry of Finance approved loans to the Ministry of Defense in the amount of 1.8 billion dollars to cover the costs of buying F-16 planes to be paid from the budget of the Ministry of Defense for the year 2013.
"Iraq is looking at a possible purchase of 24 AH-1Z helicopters for the Iraqi Army and 6-8 UH-1Y Maritime Utility helicopters for its Navy."
Kut Air Base (Army Aviation Command) will complete its life support components and refurbishments before the end of 2013 including construction and commissioning of warehouses for parts for aircraft and specialized vehicles, as well as fuel storage facilities. VIP areas for officers were also completed, and these are considered the best halls within the army aviation command.
IMod published an extended version of the weekly Khaima Magazine for New Years. Significant items concerning Iraqi Aviation include:
- Army aviation received 3 ARH407 helicopters from the US aboard a USAF C130, along with spare parts and equipment. This was confirmed by US Army press release as the sixth batch delivered. [2-3 per batch.]
- Training on F16s continues in the US and 2 pilots will soon finish their training. Facilities for the F16s are being built up rapidly on the airbases.
- They are nearing a deal to buy VIP transports for the head of state and prime minister.
- Air Defence Command Southern Operations Command active.
- The ADC infrastructure is being rebuilt completely from scratch. The committee for purchasing new air defense equipment looked at Russian, French, American, Chinese and Korean air defense systems. The ADC aims to buy from many countries an ADC system to cover Iraq's airspace at all altitudes as well as a modern command and control system.
IMod published an extended version of the weekly Khaima Magazine for New Years. Significant items concerning the Iraqi Navy include:
- In 2012 a ship repair facility was commissioned.
- New boats were received (OSVs and patrol boats).
- Advanced Simulators for naval training were commissioned.
- Naval Infantry Brigade established. [Second IqM Brigade?]
- Iraq will also receive the naval support ship in Egypt which has been refitted (Stromboli class AOR).
- The ministry of industry and minerals supplied the navy with three Fao class patrol boats which are operational.