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Iraqi Security Force Total Mobilization March 2013


Total Mobilization March 2013 


The consolidation of Operational Commands point toward 7 total ISF Corps in Wartime [5 Frontal/2 Reserve] being the basis of the Wartime Army structure.  Additionally, Kurdish elements are not being integrated – instead the KRG is building its own 2 corps army structure.  [ISF planned Wartime Structure appears to reflect late Iran-Iraq War Corps/Army Structure.]


The primary external focus is towards Iran.  Jordan, Turkey, and the GCC are only a threat if they have US support and Iraq cannot win a war with the US.  The reduction of Joint Corps opposite Syria is a reflection of Syria’s reduced conventional threat and the likelihood of the future Syrian Government not being allied with Iran.  Iran becomes the biggest regional threat by default – Iran’s 48 divisions on mobilization, 7 of them mech/armor, is the 800 pound gorilla next door.


Forward defense is Iraq’s only real option.  Too many key areas are close to the Iranian border.  However, Iraq does not currently have the force to successfully defend Iraq against a conventional invasion.  While the ISF is training and re-equipping for external security – it is at least a decade from being ready.  Iran could occupy Iraq in less than 3 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 Federal Police, Emergency Police, and Kurdish Regional Guards providing the primary infantry line.  The Iraqi Army provides the heavy reserve.


The Iraqi Army plans to add significant armor to its force so that it’s mechanized and armor divisions [plus select IA motorized and airmobile] can operate as corps/army/strategic reserve to react to any enemy breakthrough.  Supporting those reserve IA divisions will be Army Aviation Brigades paired with the Iraqi Special Operations Force Brigades as part of the quick reaction forces.


However, all of these forces are not ready for external defense.  Most divisions 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.  The 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 fully equipped heavy IA divisions, and the FP trained/equipped for its secondary role of external security.  The first fighter squadron will not be operational until 2015-2016 and Iraq needs a minimum of 5 squadrons to provide a minimum air defense.  Iraqi officers are talking 2024-2027 for completion of this plan. 


None of the services are on schedule.  The previous associated articles on ISF Structure and Armor Update provide details as to the status of the services and their upgrades.


The ISF is developing but, budget issues and politics continues to delay many key components.  The planned upgrade schedules have slid to 2017-2018 for Phase 2 [Operational Independence] and 2024-2027 for Phase 3 [Strategic Independence]. 



Iraqi Army Armor Update February 2013  

ISF Structure and Development February 2013  

ISF OOB [Updated monthly]


We'll see better budget next years if the shi'ite bloc in the parliment always vote without thinking about anyone else, after the 2013 budget was voted for, the Russian deal passed, hopefully they keep doing it next years..

Almaleki (03/09/2013 09:20:30)


Hi DJ Can you write in the fill in about the ISOF ,and the iraqi navy.... Thanks JW

JW (03/21/2013 02:46:49)


JW: Now I have a list - so far you're the only one submitting sudgestions. Period. Rest apparently are not interested enough to write...

DJ Elliott (03/22/2013 12:30:05)


DJ, how about an article on Iraqi Air Defense current/future? An article on External Defense Training would also be a good one!

James (03/24/2013 12:08:32)


James: I wrote a bit about ADA only 6 months ago. Nothing mutch has changed since then - effectively Iraq only has AAA for air defense. If you fly above 10,000', they can't do anything to you. IOW no real ADA. /// Details on what training and who is training on external defense is thin. One item that is known is the deployments opposite Syria/KRG have disrupted the schedule badly. /// By the way - The 500 MTLB buy from Bulgaria is in the official declared sales list.

DJ Elliott (03/24/2013 05:26:38)


I wrote last week but I suppose the comment didn't go through. I really admire the work you do here on Iraq and respect your opinion, but if news coming out of Iraq is thin or slow then would you be interested in expanding your blog to cover other forces in the region? Or maybe a blog dedicated to the middle east as a whole? I would also be interested in your analysis on 'hot spots' such as Korea and Iran, or even our own military forces. Thanks, SD

SD (03/27/2013 08:54:16)


SD: Have you noticed that there is no advertizing on my site? I do not get paid for this blog - Never have, it comes with the Comcast account that I pay for. And I do have a life outside of work [that pays the rent] and blog [just a hobby]. Then there is the question as to where you draw the line - cover a large number of countries without real detail or focus on one or two countries. I chose to focus on the ISF because it is rare that you see a military rebuilt from scratch and Iraq is strategic to the ME. Chris Radin focuses on ASF over at LWJ and we do correspond about each other's AORs. Note: Korea and Iran are more propaganda wars than real changes in capabilities - politics vice reality. As to the US - we publish accurate OOBs on our Service web sites...

DJ Elliott (03/28/2013 09:01:51)


PS I've reserected the SciFi book I was working on. I had written myself into a corner and abandoned it for a while - over 400 single space pages using office word at 10 pitch. Going through it and re-editing to fix it and expanding into a triology - too single perspective...

DJ Elliott (03/28/2013 09:11:09)


Well, if you were able to go around the corner you drove yourself into in the book [Still excited to read it], you can change the monthly update to a quarterly update or an every 6 months update, it would be a shame closing the blog I guess.

Almaleki (03/29/2013 05:28:57)


I agree with Almaleki, I think I speak for all of your readers when I say that I will continue to follow this blog if you decide that updating it monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually is most convenient for you. (I am also interested in reading your book, please update us when you can!)

SD (03/29/2013 04:10:36)


I'm not reducing from monthly updates. What is going to take a hit is the seperate articles I write about specific subjects in the ISF. Which is why I'm asking where the interest is now so I can address those topics before I get too wrapped up in the re-write of my book(s). [Seriously think it is going to be a triology - getting too long even with single perspective.]

DJ Elliott (03/30/2013 11:08:09)


Might take a little longer than normal to do this month's update. When the link to the 27 March Khaima showed up at IMoD's site - I noticed there were 2 skipped numbers. Checked them and sure enough - 2 more magazines [13 and 20 March]. They hadn't published the links. Takes some time to get a translation of all 3...

DJ Elliott (04/01/2013 01:34:35)


PS My thanks to the regular reader that does the Khaima translations. Machine translations really mess up Khaima and thus is problematic when trying to make sense of it...

DJ Elliott (04/01/2013 02:07:48)


I am not sure what kind of audience do they want to target with their magazine, if they were you [us] then they should really work on their terms !

Almaleki (04/01/2013 05:41:10)


I'm definately not the target audience. Arabic only. Using a font that goes weird when you use machine translation...

DJ Elliott (04/01/2013 07:55:49)

DJ Elliott