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Iraqi Army Development Status January 2012
01/23/2012

IA Div organization-Jan2012

Click to enlarge graphic.  Red indicates planned.  Orange indicates forming. 

          

The Iraqi Army is the most developed service in the Iraqi Security Forces but, it has major components missing.  The absence of sufficient support, anti-tank, logistics, artillery, and especially the total absence of air defense, makes the IA incapable of effectively fighting any of the countries bordering Iraq.  Without those components, the IA is just an internal security force – unable to successfully fight a conventional war.

            

Battalion Level Deficiencies

               

There are 3 major deficiencies in the IA’s line battalions.  The absence of Anti-Tank Guided Weapons is starting to be addressed by the fielding of BTR4s with their Barrier ATGW missiles in the Battalion Commando Platoons but, deliveries have only just begun.  It will be 5-10 years before this problem is corrected at current delivery rates.

          

The total absence of any functional air defense is the second problem.  At this level, the IA should have Man-Portable Air Defense at minimum [E.G. Stinger].  There are no reports of the IA buying any air defense systems other than F16s and those do not start to deliver until 2014.

         

The third problem is that the IA needs to re-equip, train, and upgrade the existing infantry battalions.  With the exceptions of the Kurdish Region’s mountains and the Hawar Marshes in the south, Iraq is armor terrain.  The IA is an infantry force – without the capability to be more than a speed-bump to the armor forces of the bordering countries.

                   

Brigade Level Deficiencies

             

There are 5 major deficiencies in the IA’s line brigades.  The absence of Anti-Tank Guided Weapons is starting to be addressed by the fielding of BTR4s with their Barrier ATGW missiles in the Brigade Commando Companies but, deliveries have only just begun.  It will be 5-10 years before this problem is corrected at current delivery rates.

          

The total absence of any functional air defense is the second problem.  At this level, the IA should have Short-Range Air Defense Missiles at a minimum.  There are no reports of the IA buying any air defense systems other than F16s and those do not start to deliver until 2014.

            

The artillery problem is being addressed with the remaining 120mm mortars delivering in the next 3 years but, the delivery of the howitzers is slower.  The missing howitzers will deliver in 5-7 years at current rate of purchase.

             

While the IA has said it is planning to increase its logistics, only the 9th Armor Division and ISOF have been reported with Brigade Support Battalions.  This absence in support/logistics is not a problem for internal security but, is a critical failure point in a defense against conventional forces.  As the battalions and brigades upgrade to armor, mech, and motorized – this component becomes even more essential.  Without the beans, bullets, and boots – especially fuel, the IA cannot sustain a fight.

         

The fifth problem is that the IA needs to re-equip, train, and upgrade the existing infantry brigades.  With the exceptions of the Kurdish Region’s mountains and the Hawar Marshes in the south, Iraq is armor country.  The IA is an infantry force at this time – without the capability to be more than a speed-bump to the armor forces of the bordering countries.

                   

Division Level Deficiencies

             

There are 7 major deficiencies in the IA’s Divisions.  The inability to effectively command/control at the division level is being addressed by the fielding of divisional Signals Regiments.  This equipment should be fielded by 2013, after which it will be 1-2 years to train at this level.

            

The divisional logistics support is good but, the Maintenance Battalions are still a work in progress.  This and the absence of corps and brigade level maintenance is why 30-50 percent of the vehicles in the battalions are reported non-operational.

         

The absence of Anti-Tank Guided Weapons is starting to be addressed by the fielding of BTR4s with their Barrier ATGW missiles in the Division Commando Battalions but, deliveries have only just begun.  It will be 5-10 years before this problem is corrected at current delivery rates.

          

At this level, the IA should have Medium-Range Air Defense Missiles at a minimum.  There are no reports of the IA buying any air defense systems other than F16s and those do not start to deliver until 2014.

            

The artillery problem is being addressed but, Howitzers and Multiple Rocket Launchers are only reported in 3 of the 14 IA divisions.  It will be at least 5 years at current delivery rates before all of the divisions are equipped.

             

The IA is expanding its Divisional Engineers from a Regiment to a Brigade per division.  This will provide the capability to deal with mines [IEDs], chemical defense, and obstacles while using mines and obstacles to enhance defense.  This expansion has only started – given the length of training required for engineers and chemical defense, this is probably planned to complete in 5-7 years.

         

The IA needs to re-equip, train, and upgrade the existing infantry divisions.  The IA plans to equip 9 of the 14 Divisions as Mech/Armor and Motorize the rest.  With the exceptions of the Kurdish Region’s mountains and the Hawar Marshes in the south, Iraq is armor country.  The IA is an infantry force at this time – without the capability to be more than a speed-bump to the armor forces of the bordering countries.  To make matters worse, the IA is not large enough to defend Iraq against Iran on its own.  To field enough force for that, the Federal Police, Department of Border Enforcement, and Kurdish Regional Guards are needed.  While the KRG development is on par with the IA and the KRG has the advantage of mountainous terrain, the FP and DBE are about 5 years behind the IA in development.

                   

Corps Level Deficiencies

             

The Iraqi Army has no formed corps, is deficient in Level 3 [corps] sustainment and support, and has little of the corps level combat support such as long-range air defense.  The Joint Operational Commands fill the corps-level command and control role but, are still developing.

         

Iraqi Special Operations Force and the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Brigades are to fill the role of Corps airmobile quick reaction forces and recon but, both forces are still being built up, trained, and equipped.  At current rate of development, they are 5-10 years from completion.

        

The Army Air Corps appears to be forming a corps-level Aviation Brigade but, the IA needs 5 of these Avn Bdes – 9 when you include the FP/DBE/KRG in a full mobilization.  It will be after 2020 before this is complete.

            

The IA has one level 3 Sustainment Brigade and is reported to be forming 1-4 more.  The FP also has a Sustainment Brigade but, MoI forces require 2-3 more and there are no reports of KRG sustainment forces – KRG requires 2.

           

Iraq has no air defense.

          

There is no IA corps-level artillery.

                   

Army Level Deficiencies

             

While the Iraqi Ground Forces Command has a good Level 4 support structure, it will need to expand as the IA increases its Armor/Mech/Motorized structure.

            

The IA is also dependent on FP/DBE/KRG forces to provide over half the numbers needed to successfully defend Iraq against its most likely opponent – and most of those forces are at least 5 years behind the IA in development.  Also, those forces have no effective ATGW, Artillery, Air Defense, and are 8 years behind in sustainment.

            

The IA is a work in progress.  The plan for the IA is for 3 Armored, 6 Mechanized, and 5 Motorized Divisions.  Currently it is 1 Armor, 4 Motorized [partially], and 9 Infantry Divisions.  The Armor Division is still upgrading and 2 of the Infantry Divisions are starting mechanization.  All of these IA Divisions are missing major combat and logistical components.  The plan was to be Strategically Independent by 2020 but, senior officers in the IA are now looking at 2024-2027 before they are truly ready.

               

Related:

January 16, 2011: Thoughts on ISF Development and Iraq's Ability to Defend Itself

March 21, 2011:  Iraqi Logistics - The Missing Links  

July 10, 2011:   The Missing Links – A Realistic Appraisal of the Iraqi Army  

December 26, 2011:   ISF Total Force Mobilization Update December 2011

Updated Monthly:  Iraq Order of Battle

 

DJ Elliott