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In August 2007 and June 2008, monster articles were written projecting the Iraqi Security Forces planned development by 2012 and, in some cases, beyond. In 2009 those projections were updated with a series of articles ending with projected Iraqi Total Force Mobilization published in August 2009. There have been enough changes to warrant an update to that article and a summary of current and projected ISF structure.
Since the Iraqi Army does not have a reserve, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) paramilitary police forces augment them in a wartime mobilization. The Iraqi Security Forces include elements that remain employed in internal security as well as elements that augment the Iraqi Army. Of the above forces, only the regular Iraqi Police, Facility Protection Service, and the Oil Police Directorate plus the 3 security divisions in the Iraqi Army and Federal Police would not be normally subject to employment against an invading force as part of a corps-level command. However, those forces would be responsible for key facilities in the rear area.
The total Iraqi Security Forces identified as existing, forming, or planned equate to 53 divisions plus enough independent brigades in the Iraqi Special Operations Force and Emergency Response Force to equate to 5 more divisions. They are broken down into the following:
Iraqi Army (IA) is the primary force for external defense and provides four (5 including KRG) corps headquarters and 20 divisions. 2 of those 20 divisions would not be in the field forces. Due to budget issues, only 8 of the 18 field divisions are now planned to be mechanized. Previous plans indicated 10 to 12 mechanized and armored divisions were planned:
- 14 commissioned divisions (1st thru 12th, 14th and 17th). The 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 18th, and 19th divisions are planned to be mechanized by 2020. 9th Division is currently upgrading to M1A1 tanks and M1126 armored personnel carriers. Older armor is being redistributed to the other 7 planned mechanized divisions at 1 mechanized brigade per division except for 11th Division. 11th Division is receiving at least 2 mech brigades of equipment and is probably the next to fully convert after 9th Division completes its upgrade by 2012.
- 2 Peshmerga divisions transferred to the IA (15th and 16th) but, not yet commissioned.
- 2 division-groupings of IA security units (56th, 1st Presidential and 2nd Presidential Brigades plus 15 Independent Security Battalions). These are under the Office of the Commander-in-Chief and would not be part of the field corps. Probably will be commissioned as 2 divisions by 2012
- 2 planned divisions (18th and 19th) probably commissioning by 2012.
- The Iraqi Marines are currently an under strength brigade. With the planned expansion of the Al Fao port facilities; this force will need to grow to at least 2 brigades by 2015, possibly a division in 2015-2020.
- 4 commissioned divisions (1st thru 4th).
- 2 divisions of Kurdish Zerevani Police transferring to the FP.
- 1 security division forming (Central Bank, Antiquities, and Embassy Security Brigades). This division would not be part of the field forces.
- 11 divisions planned to transfer and retrain from provincial Emergency Police by 2015. Up to 4 of these are planned to be light mechanized but, probably only 2 will be equipped by 2015.
- 5 regions, division equivalents. Still short 5 brigades but, those are expected to be operational by 2012.
- 2.5 division-equivalents planned in the 2015-2020 period.
- 2.5 division-equivalents planned by 2015.
- 4 regions, division equivalents planned by 2015. Currently 1-2 divisions in actual strength.
- 3 division reorganization of existing forces planned by 2015.
The total division count available to Iraqi field corps is reduced if you factor in the following details about some of the forces listed:
- The Iraqi Army, Federal Police, Oil Police, and Facilities Protection Service’s 10 security divisions will not be part of the field corps except in extreme cases.
- The ISOF and ERB elements may equate to 5 planned divisions but, they are likely to be assigned to army and corps as independent brigades with the responsibility for corps’ level reconnaissance, rear-area security, and Quick Reaction Force air assault brigades.
There are 10 Corps-level headquarters in the wartime structure to command the remaining 43 field divisions. This is 2 corps on the western borders and 7 corps on the eastern border plus 1 reserve corps. Each of the corps headquarters would have 1 or 2 independent ERB or ISOF Brigade(s) assigned in addition to their 3 to 5 subordinate divisions.
7 of the 8 Operational Commands are being built up to be corps, while the Baghdad Operational Command’s 2 subordinate Area Commands plus the de facto Kurdish Regional Guard are also Corps. These headquarters constitute the 10 corps command structure. They are to be the basis of the organizing corps.
- Anbar Operational Command was recently referred to as Anbar Military Operational Command and also called the basis of an IA Corps headquarters. Responsible for the western borders of Iraq [Anbar Province].
- Ninawa Operational Command will be responsible for the northern half of the Syrian border in wartime. Peacetime northern IA corps headquarters.
- Irbil Operational Command does not officially exist. It represents the de facto Kurdish Regional Border Guards Corps headquarters and is responsible for the northern borders of Iraq.
- Samarra Operational Command will probably assume responsibility for the Sulaymaniyah/Iranian border region in wartime. In peacetime this is to be a Federal Police Corps responsible for northern Iraq.
- Diyala Operational Command will probably assume responsibility for the northern part of the Diyala/Iranian border region in wartime. In peacetime this command is to be the eastern IA Corps headquarters.
- Baghdad Operational Command’s Rusafa Area Command will probably take over the southern Diyala/Iranian border region in wartime. It is currently a joint corps owning eastern Baghdad.
- Baghdad Operational Command’s Karkh Area Command will probably be the reserve corps in wartime. It is currently a joint corps owning western Baghdad.
- Karbala Operational Command will probably have responsibility for the Wassit/Iranian border region in wartime. In peacetime this will be a Federal Police Corps responsible for central Iraq.
- Mid-Euphrates Operational Command will probably have responsibility for the Maysan/Iranian border region in wartime. Also responsible for the Najaf/Muthanna borders. In peacetime this will be a Federal Police Corps responsible for southern Iraq.
- Basrah Operational Command has and will retain wartime responsibility for Basrah Province’s borders. This is expected to be the southern IA Corps headquarters.
There are alternate possible structures, but the above listed structure is the most likely planned, given the current information.