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Iraqi Security Force Update July 2013


Divisional OOB as of 30 June 2013


This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during June 2013.  The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 30 June 2013.  Key points include:

  • Final SIGIR Report – collapse of ISF Logistics/Maintenance after US withdrawal; F-16s to deliver at 2 per month starting September; M1A1s/M2s/AH64/IADS all in works; ISF capabilities.
  • Airborne Brigade Mutiny?
  • Ground/Air Brigade TF deployed to JO/SY tri-border.
  • Air Defense Command.
  • Russian Attack helicopter sale.


The last Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report was released on 30 April and included several key items in an interview with the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq on pages 8-10:

  • "That’s right. When the U.S. forces left, no one was left to provide the fuel. The U.S. forces were the ones who made sure the generators operated. They were the ones who made sure that the systems were operating. They were the ones looking over the shoulders of Iraqis to make sure they knew what buttons on the computer to press to make sure the parts were ordered. When we left, it all crumbled, and the institutional base of the Iraqi Security Forces started crumbling too—because the U.S. forces had been holding it up."    [If Iraq can’t get its logistics/maintenance house in order then it will fail.  All the toys in the world mean nothing if they do not work or do not have fuel and ammo.  I've been hearing stories of M1A1s imobilized due to maintenance for months now.]
  • "The two F-16 cases are designed to bring 18 aircraft each, with the first delivery of two planes scheduled for September 2014. Two will arrive every month thereafter, completing delivery by the end of 2015. Iraq would like them all today. They have given me a letter requesting acceleration, but they understand that we are accelerating as fast as we can. We were in the process of building the airbase infrastructure at al-Assad, and then they switched to Balad. That slowed things down. The F-16 cases, from a production standpoint, are on track. Pilot training is on track. We had some hiccups on pilot training—a couple of guys washed out—but we’re on track now."    
  • The tank case involved the purchase of 140 M1A1 Abrams at just under a billion. They want to buy another 175 at about $1.2 billion.  [5 more Tank Regiments at 35/Rgt.]
  • “The C130J case is halfway complete, with three delivered and three more to come, at a cost of less than a billion.”  [Last 3 have delivered since 30 April.]
  • “The Integrated Air Defense System case is under development and could cost about $2.3 billion, but it will require congressional notification (meaning the Congress could veto it).“   [A US IADS to go with the Russian IADS?  Integration of both countries’ systems will be difficult.]
  • “Also under development is a $3 billion case to purchase 24 Apache helicopters.  Iraq is getting six delivered in about nine months, under a lease arrangement, to use until the full Apache case is completed. That case also involves congressional notification.”  [1 Squadron with first deliveries 9 months from 30 April - 30 January 2014.  No public release of Congressional Notification noted to date.]
  • “They want 250 Bradley Fighting Vehicles at a cost of about $800 million, and the case is under development.”  [ICV component for an Armor Division under IA structure.  5 Mech Battalions (180) and 7 Mech Companies (70) for the 7 Tank Regiments.]
  • “Iraq also wants UAVs (drones), but it is also dependent on congressional notification.”
  • “On the naval front, we have delivered 11 patrol boats, will deliver 1 more this year, are working contracts for 3 more, and have already delivered 2 OSVs (large transport ships)." 
  • “The Navy is capable of providing some degree of defense against threats to the offshore oil-delivery platforms (such as al-Basrah Oil Terminal).”
  • “The Iraqi Army’s Aviation is a very capable organization, and they are getting better, principally through the purchase of the IA-407 light attack helicopter and the instruction and training that is a part of that case.” 
  • “The Iraqi Air Force is improving daily. They remain on track for receipt of their first F-16s at Balad in September 2014. And this year they received three C130J aircraft and recently flew a nighttime operational mission to Damascus, repatriating the 50-some slain Syrians who were killed in the Anbar ambush a couple of weeks ago. It was a tough mission under combat conditions, and they did well. They are flying limited RC-208 ISR imagery intelligence missions, yet their targeting and intelligence collection and analysis, other than human intelligence, remains rudimentary at best.”
  • “The Iraq Air Defense is a good professional force with good leadership, yet other than the two U.S.-provided radars and the three air-traffic-control radars; their defense capability is limited to Saddam-era Russian cannon artillery.  The integrated-air-defense-system case with us is near offer, but currently held up by congressional notification procedures.” 
  • The Counter Terrorism Service is probably the most effective element in the Iraqi Security Forces for countering the one threat that is its most existential, and that is al-Qaeda terrorist affiliates.  The dilemma is that the Counter Terrorism Service is not part of the Ministry of Defense (MOD); thus, OSC-I needs special authorities to provide it with training and equipment. We have received that authority for FY 2013 in the National Defense Authorization Act, and will need to request it each year.  The governing U.S. laws are the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, but unfortunately they were designed for security cooperation during the Cold War, rather than threats that exist within today’s security environments. So OSC-I finds itself in a Catch-22 dilemma of trying to provide support for the most effective organization fighting the existential threats against the government out here in Iraq."
  • "What about the Iraqi Army?  They have one division that deals with external threats. The other divisions are all employed against interior threats.  There are not a lot of external threats right now, other than what’s spilling across from Syria. Iraq’s chief objective, thus, is to defeat internal threats, and most of their ground forces are inside cities trying to deal with them. Now, that creates a dilemma for a number of reasons. One is you have central government forces working in provincial government jurisdictions, where they are competing not only with the provincial government but also with another ministry, the Ministry of Interior (MOI), which has jurisdiction over Iraq’s police forces."
  • "Iraq just went to Russia and, according to open sources, preliminarily signed a $4.2 billion arms purchase agreement for air and air defense (MIG-35s and SA-22s). Strategically, this is an important message for all of their partners—that they are going to remain autonomous and independent and not going to be tied to any one particular strategic partner." 


According to Iraqi Press:  “More than half of an Iraqi Army brigade stationed in the heart of Iraq's disputed territories has defected and could be incorporated into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region's Peshmerga security forces.  Beginning in early May, the 16th Brigade, which is based in Tuz Khurmatu, began defying direct orders to leave that volatile town, and also refused to accept an Iraqi Army decision to replace its Kurdish commander with a Shiite Arab.”[This is the Iraqi Army's only reported Airborne Brigade.  Originally raised as the 3-4 Brigade in Sulaymaniyah, this brigade participated in the Baghdad surge before being relocated to the Tuz district of Salahadin.]


Iraqi Press reports that a combined ground/air brigade Task Force of 4 battalions/squadrons deployed to the Syrian/Jordanian/Iraqi tri-border region.  An Iraqi official said "This is intended to secure the elections" in Nineveh and Anbar on 20 June.


According to the 19 June Khaima magazine: 

  • The Air Defense Command can detect any aircraft entering Iraqi Airspace.  [Yeah Rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhttttt.  Read further for where this is contradicted in the same article.]
  • The ADC is one of the pillars of the Iraqi Armed forces, multiple sources of supply in weapons will be sought and no reliance on a single supplier will happen.
  • The ADC is not simply about SAMs and AAA, its early warning, command and control and effective communications and decision making methods. We have inspected many advanced air defense systems in Russia, USA, Korea and France.
  • Iraq now has [only] 2 early warning radars in Baghdad and Nassiriya and a third one under construction in Kirkuk. We are constructing an air defense system to rival that of the advanced nations and neighboring states. However right now we only have early warning radars and some AAA batteries.   [AAA means anti-aircraft artillery – guns.  They do not have full coverage of Iraqi airspace with only 2 functional sites.]
  • The AAA batteries and the 1st Unguided Air Defense Battalion have been used to defend religious processions, the Arab League summit in Baghdad and Baghdad International Airport as well as a number of strategic locations around Baghdad. We aim to build a complete air defense system with SAMs, aircraft interceptors and modern AAA.   [First identified ADA Battalion.]


Reporting of the Russian Attack Helicopter sale has gone from confusion to total confusion.  On 17 June, it was reported that Russia had contracted to supply Iraq with Ka-52 helicopters.  This was initially believed to be confusion with the Azerbaijan sale.  Reporting on 21 June confirmed that both Ka-52s and Mi28NEs are being acquired from Russia.  Reporting from 26 June indicated that the first Mi-28s and Pantsir-S1s (SA22s) were to arrive this month.  Then on 28 June, it was reported that over 10 fully armed and equipped Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters were delivering to Iraq. 

What does all this mean?

  • This is too soon to be new built aircraft and SAM systems delivering - Which means these systems are being provided from existing used stocks or from cancelled arms deals to other nations. 
  • For some crazy reason, Iraq has decided to buy 2 differing attack helicopter types [Ka-52/Mi-28] from the same country thus confusing its failed logistics even further.  Buying differing systems from separate countries can be justified to prevent any 1 country’s embargo crippling you but 2 different attack helicopter types from the same country at the same time as you are buying another from the US [AH-64]?
  • Then there is the mention of MiG-35 or MiG-29 buys.  MiG-35 is a modernized export version of the MiG-29 but, few countries have been buying MiGs since the attempt to rip-off Algeria by selling used MiG-29s as new.

For my US readers – Happy 237th Independence Day and 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg. 

For my Commonwealth and Southern readers - My commensurations.


thanks for the bumper update this month DJ! and happy 4th of July.

sheytanelkebir (07/05/2013 06:54:33)


Is it just me DJ, or does it seem like the IMOD at this point is acting like a rich kid with more money than common sense? I know that they really need to bulk up their external defense capability and to show strength against their neighbors yada, yada same ol' song and dance... your country is on the verge of falling apart AGAIN and you go window shopping at the Paris Air Show for attack helicopters you probably wont be able to keep in the air? Ugh, I hate myself for saying what I'm about to say because I really try not to be prejudiced or to make sweeping generalizations over groups of people but... typical Arabs. :(

Trophy_Wench (07/17/2013 10:59:11)


They are spending now because they have money now. The budget crunch hurt. The multi-nation buys of all major types of equipment is policy - so as to keep any individual country crippling them thru embargo. I don't agree with how they are prioritizing their buys but, they do fit the plan...

DJ Elliott (07/18/2013 09:23:17)


Great update! Just wondering, which division is the one dealing with external affairs. Also, are you familiar with ISW's report on Maliki's security structure ( Seems like an accurate portrayal to me but I’d love to hear your thoughts

Carr (07/18/2013 01:36:05)


In the first pages I see both propaganda and errors. They started with a premis and everything used supports it even when it is his duty. The same arguments can be made for every POTUS since Washington - History and Maliki's future actions will decide. The PM is the CinC under the Iraqi Constitution. It is his job to command the Armed Forces. What T72s in 56/6 Bde? ////// One of the errors is that the OCs are not under the IGFC any more than CentCom is under the CoS Army. Those are the US equivalents. The article both omits commands and misrepresents them. GIGO. Much is accurate but the errors all support their premis... //// The only Div that I would consider up to external is 9th Armor and it is still short tanks. All 3 of the officially designated Mech Divs are way short tanks and other components...

DJ Elliott (07/19/2013 11:24:11)


Great. Thanks for your input. I perceived the anti-schism too. Also some of the Commanders identified are mistaken not to mention they got the organization chart wrong. However, I found it to be a good summary of the PM’s line of action, of course, under the author’s premise. Thanks again

Carr (07/19/2013 12:34:43)


Note that the EDA BB has finally updated. Only thing new in FY11 was 9 AVLBs. FY12 was a lot of Semi-tractors and 51 Z Backscatter Vans. FY13 was HAWK: 16 XM304 Transporter-Launchers, Hawk; 2 Loader, Hawk; 11 M501L1 Loader, Hawk; 7 AN/MPQ-61 High-powered Ilumination Radars; 8 AN/MSW-19 Plt Command Posts; 21 MTM-23 Training Missiles, Hawk; 26 M1E2 Missile loading and storage pallets; 3 M192 Launcher, Hawk, Towed; 3 M501E3 Loader/Transporter; 225 MIM-23E Missiles. //// My read is that combined with the 8 Avengers and 200 Stingers this is 4 SAM Batteries with 2 plts of HAWK and 1 of Avenger each. I'm initially listing them as 4 seperate batteries but, they might be combined into a single bn...

DJ Elliott (07/27/2013 04:55:14)

DJ Elliott