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Iraqi Security Force Update March 2012


Brigade OOB as of 29 February 2012


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during February 2012.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 29 February 2012.   Highlights in this update include:   

  • KRG receives 5 helicopters for police. 
  • Operational Commands converting to Corps?; 11th Division moving to Wasit?; IA Mountain Force to be formed?; More M113s or duplicative reporting?; K1A1 tanks for Iraq?; Armor update. 
  • Aerospace Defense Command re-established?; “8th Batch” of EC635s delivered; Korean T-50 Jet Trainer still in contention. 
  • MoI controls Independent Security Battalions?




"The Kurdistan Regional Government received on Saturday five helicopters to control traffic movement, according to media website of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).“   “Five helicopters arrived in the Arbil airport; two will be delivered to Arbil, two to Sulaimaniya and one to Duhuk." 

Previous reporting had indicated that the KRG intended to buy 11 Jet Rangers for traffic control and medical evacuation.  These helicopters could be used for military observation and MEDEVAC as well.


Iraqi Army


The Operations Commands may be being converted to IA and MoI Corps headquarters.  Ninawa Operations Command and Anbar Operations Command have been recently reported as   "Ninewa's Intelligence & Security Operations Command" and "Anbar’s Police Operations Command".  If this is the case, then the 4 planned IA Corps will probably be formed from Ninawa, Diyala, Basrah, and part of the Baghdad Operational Commands.  The remaining commands would become MoI Corps or higher headquarters.


There continues to be reporting of elements of the IA 11th Division in Wasit province.  This division is normally based in eastern Baghdad.  The planned replacement of IA in the cities combined with this movement could mean that the Federal Police and IP are replacing the 11th Division in Baghdad and that the division is relocating to Wasit.    


National Alliance MP announced today the formation of a special force to defend the Kurdistan mountainous areas, in addition to Kurdish border areas. MP Qassim al-Araji, member of the Parliamentarian Security and Defence Commission, told that “this force shall be named the Mountainous Force”. He added that “this force is to come within political agreements between Iraqiya, National Alliance and Kurdish blocs, but if it was not agreed on, and then it shall remain in Baghdad”.  

This may be a restart on the formation of the 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions.  Of note, some brigades in western/southern Baghdad have 15th Division numbers under the standard IMoD numbering scheme.  [The 54/6, 55/17, and 56/6 Brigades are 3 of the 7 exceptions to the standard numbering of IA brigades under IMoD order 151.]


"BAE Systems in partnership with the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) are refurbishing 440 M113A2 armored personnel carriers for Iraq through a foreign military sales contract worth more than $31 million."  Work on the M113 refurbishment will be completed by April 2012. "Under a separate effort, BAE Systems will provide materials to ANAD to refurbish 586 M113A2s also bound for Iraq.”

This may be additional M113s or a repeated report of the 1,026 M113 Family of Vehicles already in delivery.


Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and the acting Defense Minister had official meetings with Korea's Minister for Defense production in Baghdad where they called on the fulfillment for the supply of T50 training aircraft and discuss the supply of other defense materials including modern tanks.” 

While no actual contract(s) were announced and no details provided, this points out that the GoI is still shopping for tanks and has not actually made a deal with anyone.  It also adds K1A1 tanks to the prospective list.  Given delivery and training times, this indicates that the IA will not add any operational tank regiments prior to 2014.


The latest IMoD newspaper had a report on armored units on page 10 [in Arabic]. Some of the key items noted were:

  • The 9th Division is the only fully mechanized division in the army.  [Note that the 9th is planned to be an armored division.]
  • The army has a 4 year plan to equip the divisions with BTR-4 and M113 APCs.  
  • Currently the 8th Division (32/8 and 31/8 Brigades) as well as the 10th Division (38/10 and 39/10 Brigades) are being trained and prepared for M113s. One battalion from the 8th Division has completed training at Besmaya. 
  • The 34/9 Brigade’s 1st and 2nd Tank Regiments have completed training on M1A1s.
  • Courses have been started on the T72 and T55 tanks for the 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 12th and 14th Divisions.
  • Two Computerized Simulators for live fire simulation have been setup for the BTR4s. So far only 26 BTR4s have been received.  

This adds 2 divisions [2nd and 10th] to the list of IA divisions receiving training or being equipped with tracked armor.  A total of 11 of the 14 existing IA divisions have elements training/equipping with heavy armor:


Divisions with all 4 Brigades having elements upgraded/upgrading:

  • 9th Division - all 4 Brigades are Mech/Armor although there is some question of the status of upgrades in 35th and 37th Brigades.  This is especially true if they are losing their T72s.  Only 4 of the 7 Tank Regiments [battalions] trained on M1A1s have received their tanks.
  • 5th Division - all 4 Brigades received training in M113s in 2010-11; reported mechanizing.  No report of tanks.
Divisions with 3 Brigades having elements upgrading/upgraded:
  • 8th Division - 1-33/8 Battalion with BMP1s; training of 31st and 32nd Brigades in M113.  No report of tanks.
  • 6th Division - 2-22/6 Battalion and 4-54/6 Battalion with BMP1s; 2 battalions of 56th Brigade trained on M113s in 2011.  No report of tanks.
Divisions with 2 Brigades having elements upgrading/upgraded:
  • 3rd Division - 4-10/3 Battalion with M113s; ?-12/3 Battalion with T55s; training in T55 reported.
  • 10th Division - 38th and 39th Brigades reported to be receiving M113 training; training in T72s reported.
  • 11th Division - 1-42/11 Battalion with MTLBs; 3-44/11 Battalion with BMP1s; No report of tanks.

Divisions with 1 Brigade having elements upgrading/upgraded:

[These may be planned motorized divisions with only a mech brigade each.]

  • 7th Division - 1-29/7 and 2-29/7 Battalions with BMP1s; Reports in 2011 of mechanizing with M113s; No report of tanks.
  • 14th Division - 3-52/14 Battalion with T55s; training in T55s reported.
  • 12th Division - report of Tank Regiment planned in 15/12 Brigade; training in T72s reported.
  • 2nd Division - report of training in T72s.


1st, 4th, and 17th Divisions have no reports of training on or being equipped with tanks or APCs except for one 17th Division exercise.  This does not exclude the possibility of their Commandos [Cavalry/Scouts] getting BTR4s - the 17th Division exercise could have been using Bradleys as a stand in for BTR4s.


There are not enough M113s in the reported pipeline to equip the reported number of units training on them - there has to be more planned.  There appear to be more M113 FOVs, more BTR4s, and definitely more tanks planned/in-pipeline that have not been reported.  Too many units are training on them compared to the armor numbers reported purchased/delivering.


Where are the tank orders?   There are nowhere near enough tanks to equip the reported force and no reports of tank buys - just unexercised options on 350 HA M60s and 140 M1A1s, rumored Ukr/Czech T72 buys/upgrades, rumored Korean K1A1 possible buys, and rumored Russian buys.


There are 7 IA battalions identified as having received M1A1 training but, only 4 have been equipped - means at least another order of M1A1s was/is planned... 


At a low estimate, based on only 6 Mech and 1 Armored Division with the remaining 7 Divisions having 1 only Tank Regiment each [motorized], the IA would have 42 Tank Regiments with 35 tanks each [1,470 tanks].   At a high estimate, based on 5 Armored and 6 Mech Divisions, the IA would have 65 Tank Regiments with 35 tanks each [2,295 tanks].  The IA currently has 140 M1A1s, ~125 T72s, and ~76 T54/55 or only 10 Tank Regiments [Approx 341 tanks].  The IA is short 1129-1954 tanks.   Even if the unused options for another 140 M1A1s and the 350 HA M60s were exercised, that still would leave the IA 639-1464 tanks short - Neither of those options have been reported as exercised.  You can make do with truck mounted infantry but, there is no replacement for tanks...


Iraqi Air Force


"Senior military sources that the next few days will see the re-formation Aerospace Defense Command, which will be equipped system radars developed along with rockets and artillery resistance of the aircraft, which will contribute to the protection of Iraqi airspace." This is unconfirmed reporting – there have been no reports of Iraqi purchases of anti-aircraft missiles or guns.


The "8th batch" of EC635 helicopters was reported received in February. While the total number is not mentioned, the “batches” that have been reported previously were pairs.  This means that the Iraqi Army Air Corps probably has at least 16 EC635.


While there is still repeated reporting of an Iraqi buy of Korean T-50 jet trainers – no actual contract has been announced.


Iraqi Ministry of Interior


According to Iraq’s Deputy Interior Minister, while the Ministry of Defense provides the bodyguards for the prime minister, speaker of parliament and president of Iraq, and their deputies [2 Presidential Brigades] – the Ministry of Interior provides the bodyguards who protect each minister and those who guard MPs [14 Independent Security Battalions].  Combined with the Federal Police Embassy, Bank, and Archeology Security Brigades, this could indicate that the MoI plans to establish a 1-2 Division Security force.


Iraqi MoI sources have stated that the city security will start to transition from IMoD [Army] to MoI [Police] primacy in mid-2012. 



My appologies for activating the poll 2 days before the article. I had intended to publish same day and got sidetracked. For those that chose other in the poll, please comment with sourcing if available.

DJ Elliott (03/06/2012 11:27:58)


K1A1? That is... interesting to say the least. Certainly smart, given the similarities between it and the Abrams. My only question concerning such a purchase would be how many could they expect to receive that the ROKA or ROK Marines are willing to sell? Granted, the K2 is coming and it will certainly take the reins as Korea's primary MBT but they are primarily going to replace their fleet of M48s with them, not the K1! So as it is now with the K1A1 serving alongside the old M48 in Korea the K1 and K2 will eventually serve alongside each other. On top of all that, I don't believe that Hyundai Rotem is building them anymore; they shifted their production to the K2. (Though I could be wrong.)

Trophy Wench (03/06/2012 01:44:08)


OT: Fair winds and following seas, Captain.

DJ Elliott (03/07/2012 10:52:56)


to be fair. Iraq is just "window shopping" for weapons everywhere they visit... Romania, Czech republic, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, China, India, South Korea, France, UK, USA etc... etc.... they've been saying the exact same vague "needs". I think speculating about actual real purchases is a bit premature at this time, since Iraq does have a record of just tire kicking. On the other hand. Iraq has increased the purchase budget for the military to $6Bn for 2012. which certainly shows that they WILL buy some stuff this year... (focus however seems to be squarely at air force / air defence),

sheytanelkebir (03/08/2012 01:52:47)


It is important to understand the "modus operandi" of the Iraqi government to know how they operate. First they ignore the experts about what's needed and the lead times for setup. Then at the last minute they panic and divert all the budget towards that SINGLE item. The current favourite being the air force/air defence.

sheytanelkebir (03/08/2012 01:56:14)


So I guess it's confirmed that they're seeking some kind of M1/T-whatever mix. Are there any armies that have done/are doing this?

Maz (03/08/2012 05:08:59)


If IMoD/GoI were smart, they would buy all the Pattons from HA and ROKA, upgun them with 120mm, then look for more modern tanks. They could field a full force of Pattons for the price of 1 Tank Division's worth of M1A1 or any other new tank. //// As to the capabilities, except for the Abrams [and its Korean/Itallian versions] and the Challenger, all other tanks are 1 hit kills vs a 120mm... The problem with Russian and Chinese tanks is the armor is rolled steel and the auto-loaders are not that good - they are disposable tanks.

DJ Elliott (03/08/2012 11:38:02)


Maz: Oh yes several other ME militaries (and Spain) have the so called "2 supplier solution" when equipping their forces. Iraq was/is no different; Though most of their equipment was from the SU, they also bought in from other ComBloc states, Yugoslavia, France, China and (up until the 60s') the UK. UAE also does this with modern equipment being bought in from not only the US, but also France, Italy, UK, Russia and others. The idea being that if one country stopped supplying military equipment to them, then they would not be completely screwed and unable to maintain their existing force. Now IMO, in Iraq right now, as it is with Spain right now, this doctrine is becoming a bit passe. Both countries are no longer isolated dictatorships and are free to buy whatever they want but in doing so, doubling up on everything so you're not dependent on just one nation for equipment is gong to create more problems than it solves. Case in point: this tank fiasco. I believe that the M1A1 is fine for the needs of the Iraqi Army. Expensive? Yes, time consuming? Yes, but it would be even more so if you were to double up your tank fleet with a completely different system. Now,that's not to say that such and Idea does not have merit. If Iraq really has to buy 2 different models of tank then at least go the cheapest or most cost effective route.

Trophy Wench (03/08/2012 01:54:57)


TW, I agree the M1A1 is a very capable MBT, but do you think it is the right tank for the IA? These M1s are monkey models in that they don't have the DU armor. They cost a heck of a lot. The IA has operated T-types for half a century or so (I imagine the IA is pretty experienced in operating/maintaining them as well have the infrastructure to support them, if it hasn't been blown up), but then again they've been in contact with M1s since '03, so I guess the IA would know both tanks by now. Russia alone has about 3,000 T-80's in storage

Maz (03/09/2012 03:59:18)


Even without the DU layer, M1s have more armor protection than T80s. All Russian tanks are monkey version with only rolled steel armor. They don't export DU versions either. Russian design philosophy is to build tanks as disposable and simple as possible. Their system and tactics are pure attrition, numbers vice quallity... //// Reality is that any tank armed with a 120mm NATO Smoothbore firing Sabot [DU or Tungsten] has a 1 hit kill capability vs any tank that does not have Chobham composite armor. If you are going with T80s, you might as well go with upgraded Pattons - no real difference in armor protection...

DJ Elliott (03/09/2012 09:22:42)


thing is. priority is for air force and air defence. expect EVERYTHING else to be put on a backburner at least for the 2012 budget. They can train all the divisions they want, but they'll be driving in jeeps and humvees for many many more years.

sheytanelkebir (03/09/2012 12:17:37)


Iraqi M1s have Chobham armor? I had always thought that that was left out of the package as well. Even now I can't find anything to confirm/deny it... Speaking of air force, what's with the flip-flopping b/w L159s and T-50s? Is it part of a strategy or is it simply bad leadership?

Maz (03/09/2012 11:16:52)


Yes. The M1-series, Italian C1-series, Korean K1-series, and UK Challenger are built with Chobham armor. US/UK Domestic versions have DU embedded in the chobham composit which is why they are not sold for export. The only difference in the export vs domestic armor in the M1A1s is export versions do not have the DU mesh in the chobham composit armor. Same with the UK challengers. UK and US as well as Russia do not export DU armor. Russian tanks are rolled steel armor with domestic versions having removable DU plates [omitted in export versions]. The DU is not removable in domestic US M1-series - it is embedded in the composite. //// The frontal chobham armor on a US M1-series tank is the equivalent to 18 inches of rolled steel. Without the embedded DU mesh the export is 2 inches less in equivalence to rolled steel - only 16 inches of equivalence. ///// Additional reactive [exposive] armor was omitted in the sale to Iraq. That removable layer is not called chobham.

DJ Elliott (03/10/2012 04:33:15)


Note: This is why domestic made US M1-series tanks are not exportable under US laws. You would have to destroy the tank armor to remove the DU mesh embedded. Costs more to rebuild with the DU removed than to build a new export version. Half the price of a M1-series tank is the built-in chobham armor. //// I see the L159 and T50 negotiations as competition. However, it could be that the IqAF intends to use them for both training and light attack. They could be looking at buying both...

DJ Elliott (03/10/2012 04:46:18)


Buying both? Hmmph, well if anything it still proves my point about the "2 state solution." That being said though, if they only use the ALCA as a COIN platform and the T or T/A-50 as a LIFT with potential to one day buy F/A-50s then I could see some merit in such a decision. But an even better solution would be for the IMoD to stop waffling, pull its head out of its butt and just pick one. (Though I should talk, give our country's 'stellar' reputation for competitive contract arms purchases.)

Trophy Wench (03/11/2012 10:29:41)


"Half the price of a M1-series tank is the built-in chobham armor." Well, this certainly explains a great deal! Thanks for dropping knowledge bombs on us, DJ.

Maz (03/13/2012 04:28:05)

DJ Elliott