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Iraqi Security Force Update November 2012


Divisional OOB as of 31 October 2012 


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during October 2012.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 October 2012.  Two speculative maps were published under “ISF Speculation.”  The Russian and Czech arms purchases [and US M88s plus Serbian Artillery] were addressed separately in “Iraqi Arms Purchases October 2012”.    These topics will not be addressed here.  Air and Naval Bases have been added to the ISF OOB map.


Highlights in this update include:  

  • Further arms purchases and proposals; Joint US/Iraqi Training Exercise planned; TOC operational and adds Salahaddin; 8th Division re-designated mechanized; Elements of 17th Division still under BOC;  Airmobile Brigade in 4th Division; 12th Division mechanizing?
  • Second order of F16s signed; Sixth An-32 delivered; AS565 offered for AAC Maritime support; 3 C-130Js deliver this year – 3 more by May 2013; 4 possible AAC FOBs in western Anbar?; New AAC squadron identified; Avenger and I-Hawk donated to Iraq.
  • Continued delays in Federal Police sustainment facility.




There were no new details released concerning the Russian Arms Deal but, there were other arms deals and potential deals mentioned in the later half of October:   

  • "Defence ministers also discussed possible delivery of new small arms from the Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod to Iraq and Czech offer to modernise T-72 tanks of Iraqi Armed Forces." 
  • "Iraqi representatives are also negotiating about establishing a service and training centre for gun servicing in Iraq, Skrabal said." 
  • An undetermined number of additional ILAVs.  "BAE Systems Land and Armaments in York, PA receives a $73.8 million firm-fixed-price umbrella contract, which allows Foreign Military Sales clients to buy International Light Armored Vehicles. US Army TACOM has confirmed to use that this 1st order is from Iraq, Uganda, and Burundi.  Work location will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2015. " 
  • Six M1A1 tanks indicating further Iraqi acquisitions of M1A1s intended.  "General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI receives a $9.5 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the services necessary to rebuild six M1A1 tanks in support of Foreign Military Sales.” US Army TACOM has confirmed to us that these are for Iraq."  Of note, these are the first rebuilt M1A1s for Iraq and only the second time that used US M1A1s have been exported from US Army stocks – the first was 200 for Morocco.  The US Army has approximately 2,000 older Abrams in storage that they cannot afford to rebuild/upgrade and is looking for ways to keep the refurbishment line open for the next 5 years.  Apparently, the Pentagon has decided to donate older tanks with the recipients paying for the refurbishment and thus keeping the line operational.   
  • The  SIGIR Oct 2012 Report mentioned an Iraqi Letter of Request for 30 Stryker CBRN vehicles and $40 million of 120mm tank ammo.  Additionally, Iraq is inquiring into Bradley ICVs or Stryker APCs.   


IMoD’s weekly Khaima Magazine [25 October] mentioned a planned joint US/Iraqi training exercise to be carried out at Besmaya.  This is the second such joint exercise to be carried out since the withdrawal of US forces and more such exercises are planned for the future.


The Tigris Operations Command has conducted its first operations and has officially added the Salahaddin province to its area.


Khaima Magazine [10 October] officially called the 8th Division a Mechanized Infantry Division for the first time.  This indicates that the division received enough M113s to be redesignated by the IA.  There are no reports of tanks in the 8th.


Elements of 17th Division are still operating under Baghdad Operational Command.  This division is shifting into Babil province under FaOC.


According to a CSIS report [pg70], the International Institute for Strategic Studies lists an IA Infantry Division as including an Airmobile Brigade in its 2012 issue.  The division description fits 4th Division and a battalion of the 16/4 Brigade has been called a "paratroop bn." 


12th Division is apparently gaining either a Tank Brigade or 2 Mechanized Brigades.  Elements of 47/12 Brigade have been reported receiving T55 and Type 69 tanks [3rd Battalion].  1-47/12 Battalion had a graduation parade at K1 where it was said they were trained on repairing tanks.  A photo from another 12th Division Kirkuk parade included T72s and BMP1s.  This means 12th has gotten at least 3 and up to 6 battalions of mech/armor: 1 T55/Type59, 1 T72, and 1-4 BMP1 Battalions.  Either an Armor Brigade or 2 Mech Brigades depending on the number/distribution of BMP1s and tanks. 


This also means that the armor left that 14th Division’s 50/14 and 53/14 Brigades could have been training on earlier this year is BTR4s as all other armor except the delivered/delivering BTR4s, EE9s, and BTR80s is accounted for.  There are not enough EE9s and BTR80s to equip 2 brigades.




Iraq finally signed the contract for the second order of 18 F16s.  The new contract is reported as identical to the first except that the deliveries are to be concluded in 2018.  Iraq is also talking with U.S. officials about buying air defense systems and Apache helicopters.  Initial F16 base was changed in late September to Balad vice Al Asad according to SIGIR.


The sixth An32 arrived in Iraq.  There have been no reports of Iraq exercising the option for 4 more.


The head of the AAC met with a delegation from Eurocopter who are offering the AS565 helicopter to be operated by the AAC in support of the Iraqi Navy.


Deliveries of C-130Js start this year.  Khaima Magazine [10 October] says that 3 are to deliver by end-year.  Other sources provide planned dates of production as August 12 [test flew August 16], October 10, October 23, March 14 [2013], May 22, and April 11.  Delivery in Iraq to follow after acceptance.


The October 2012 SIGIR Report mentioned ongoing facilities enhancements for 7th Division at H3, Nukhaybe, Akashat, and Qasr Amij.  Two of these sites are probable planned AAc helicopter forward operating bases, indicating that all 4 of these sites in western Anbar may be future AAC FOBs.


The 25 October Khaima Magazine mentioned a new Squadron with Mi-171s.  AAC flew sorties to protect the buses taking pilgrims to the haj in Saudi Arabia. 85th Squadron based out of Basrah flew the armed sorties (picture of Mi171 over ministry of transport buses).


Additional items mentioned were:

  • The Air Defense Command opened its technical training college.
  • In addition to the F16s, GoI made a request for Apache Helicopters and Air Defence Systems including the Patriot. 
  • Iraq and the US's disagreements over the supply of air defense systems is because the US supplied Iraq with Hawk and Avenger systems, but these are obsolete and do not meet Iraq's true needs. Iraq rejected them initially, but the US donated the systems to Iraq for free and they were accepted. 
  • Iraq is developing its air defenses on a principle of buying the short range systems first followed by the medium and long range air defense systems. Iraq is now on its way to sign for the supply of two types of long range air defense systems. 
  • WRT to the US reaction to Iraq's Russian weapons purchases. IMoD said that the reaction to the purchases was by the media only and Iraq's relations with the US are not adversely affected by these contracts. 


Ministry of Interior


The October 2012 SIGIR Report  mentioned continuing delays in facilities for the Federal Police Sustainment Brigade.




I don’t normally provide an opinion on IMoD procurement policy in the monthly update.  I’m making an exception this time.


The IMoD’s bottom-up practice of acquiring weapons is a legacy of how the ISF was first rebuilt.  It made sense when they were building a counter-insurgency force as the operational forces are infantry centric and COIN is primarily small unit actions.  This is not true when you are building a force for external defense – the priorities change.  Tanks are not much use for COIN but essential to combined arms.  APCs are very useful for COIN but truck mounted infantry can be used to support armor in combined arms.  ATGWs are near useless for COIN but essential to each line battalion in external defense – especially given the amount of armor in the neighboring countries.


The problem is that IMoD is still building to the old COIN priorities and has not shifted to external defense despite claiming to.  Bottom up development is the second worst way to upgrade to external defense – the worst is what happened in 2008-2009 during the budget crunch when little was changed.  Iraq did not learn from the Unit Set Fielding program about fully equipping/upgrading entire brigades with all needed weapons.  IA doesn’t need more APCs at this point – they need field artillery, ATGW, and tanks.


Same for Air Defense, building from the bottom up is the least efficient method from an IADS development, operational, and training perspective.  Instead of 42 Pantsir-S1s, Iraq should have bought equal numbers of both Pantsir-S1 and S300s with supporting radars/AAA to build 4 fully functional Air Defense Battalions.  Until you have all the components, you can’t train as a combined force.  You are not functional until all components are available and trained on as combined arms. 


The IMoD COIN Legacy-method of buying weapons is delaying full mission capabilities for external defense.  Buying Division Sets of all needed systems and converting part of the force provides trained cadre and allows training in combined arms forces that become operational as they get the new equipment because they have already trained on it - Thus providing for training in parallel to acquisition vice after acquisition.  Under the current procurement policies, the IA is adding years to its training and development.  Of note, MoI is worse – at least 7-8 years behind the IA in development of the FP/DBE.


DJ, great update as usual and I absolutely agree with your opinion in regards to the IMoDs misplaced procurement priorities (Although I must say, I had figured AS535 would have come into the Navy's picture at some point and now well hey, look at that!) Anyway, could this bottom up approach also be stemming from a general sense of complacency within Iraq, feeling that they have no real external enemies ATT and are still trying to maintain security within their own borders? Also, Avenger and Pantsir? What an odd combination, though I must admit, I always thought the Hawk system would be a good choice for Iraq.

Trophy_Wench (11/05/2012 06:23:17)


I suspect some of the changes in priorities are because GoI is finally realizing that they don't know who will be in charge in the adjacent countries next week and thus they need to have a credible defense. The problem is they are still thinking bottom-up which works for COIN but is not effecient for external. //// I suspect the Russian systems will be for the ADC while the US will be IA tactical AD for the Divs - Pantsir is a cruise-missile defense system that is too easilly jammed for tactical use - also works well with SA20[S300]. Always expected a Russian SAM buy - US systems are more tactical since we always have Fighters to provide strategic cover...

DJ Elliott (11/05/2012 08:35:09)


I agree that they IMOD needs to change its focus towards external defense. However, I am not sure that IMOD's wheeled armored APCs they currently have will suffice. The BTR-4 is not a good piece of kit, thus you have sustainment and obsolescence problems from the outset. A vehicle that will be in service for a long time with a large military mitigates these problems; the Stryker is a perfect example. Additionally, it keeps your operations and maintenance costs very low. Concur on the need for additional artillery, especially rocket launched artillery. I also think that COIN needs to begin shifting towards the Federal Police, but as noted above, they are a little behind the power curve at the current time.

M F Conroe (11/06/2012 09:57:19)


There is RUMINT that part of the Russian buy is ATGWs and MRLs. If so, at least part of the priorities have started shifting - finally. If...

DJ Elliott (11/09/2012 02:18:35)


Also RUMINT the Russian/Czech buys are not being confirmed...

DJ Elliott (11/09/2012 09:26:22)


Looks like there are now conflicting reports about whether the deal is going ahead or has been cancelled over suspicions of corruption:

Random Person (11/10/2012 07:50:36)


Yup. Even mentions that the shake-up of the Russian MoD/Army might be linked and that members of the Iraqi delegation that negotiated the deal have been detained...

DJ Elliott (11/10/2012 08:51:31)


Even the Russian press is confirming the deal is canx. /// //// Given the comment about more "sophisticated" arms being negotiated - I wonder if my comments had any influence...

DJ Elliott (11/10/2012 09:05:06)


Moving up the world are we? I wonder if the inquires into American attack helos was also a part of it?

Trophy_Wench (11/10/2012 07:48:36)


Maybe. Depends on what was offered. /// Could just be my ego. But, I know IMoD reads my articles. Not the first time I wrote something and saw a reaction to it - ussually about a week after I publish...

DJ Elliott (11/10/2012 10:31:45)


Re-negotiating Russian deal - wonder what will come out this time. /// Seen nothing supporting Guestbook comment on Bradleys/Strykers and ILAV is AKA Badger - not a name for Bradleys/Strykers. Consider that a guess by an unknown commenter ATT...

DJ Elliott (11/13/2012 11:34:45)


KRG forming 2 Corps-level HQs. Hamrin Operational Command being the first. Opposite TOC. No HQ location yet. No ID on northern OC yet.

DJ Elliott (11/14/2012 08:16:21)

Almaleki (11/20/2012 06:55:23)


Yup. Finally reporting what was in the October SIGIR report three weeks later. It is listed under the Army above...

DJ Elliott (11/20/2012 10:22:04)


Oh, didn't notice, sorry.

Almaleki (11/21/2012 11:49:08)


No problem. Sometimes I miss things too...

DJ Elliott (11/21/2012 06:53:10)

Almaleki (11/22/2012 12:42:30)

DJ Elliott