The November 2007 updates to the Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle are now available at the ISF OOB Page. The significant changes to the Order of Battle are summarized below:
Iraqi Special Operations Forces
The Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) Operator Training Course graduated 36 personnel in October. This extremely challenging class had started with 1,200 students three months earlier. The three percent that graduated will be assigned to the 2nd Counter-Terrorism Battalion, Iraq’s most elite ISOF battalion. Those that failed to complete the course will be assigned to one of the three other ISOF commando battalions. Of particular note, the training included use of the Iraqi Air Force Mi-17 helicopters which is the airframe chosen for the ISOF utility squadron. This ISOF support squadron is forming.
Iraqi Ground Forces Command
The five battalion strong (3,000 personnel) 4-6 Iraqi Army (IA) Brigade has taken over training of a “commando” course that is described as a three-week course in advanced infantry tactics. “The course is modeled after the 10th Mountain Division (LI) pre-Ranger course.” This brigade is not the only element of the IA receiving advanced infantry training along commando/ranger lines. The 1-1-8 IA Battalion was also reported receiving similar training in a six week course in Diwaniyah. All six battalions have previous air assault experience.
This training could be in preparation for recruitment into the rapidly expanding ISOF that is growing from three to six commando battalions.
It could also be the beginning of a conversion to the Prime Minister’s planned elite quick reaction battalions for IA light divisions outside of the Baghdad Area. These are not mutually exclusive options as recruiting for ISOF volunteers followed by conversion of the remaining elements is also possible.
Another possibility is that this training is being extended throughout the 6th IA Division to upgrade it. Since 12 of 18 battalions in 6th Division have air assault experience, it is possible that the 6th Division is being converted into a commando division.
One year ago, the Prime Minister’s initiative to expand the IA by three divisions, five brigades, 20 battalions, and an ISOF battalion was announced. As noted above, the ISOF has formed its commando battalion in Basrah and is in the process of forming four more for Mosul, Anbar, Diyala, and Diwaniyah. The 11th and 14th IA Divisions are forming by the end of the year and the 12th IA Division is to form in mid-2008. The IA has also formed the 3-9, 4-9, 5-10, 4-4, 2-11, and 3-11 IA Brigades and the three strategic infrastructure brigades (1st, 2nd, and 9th) have been transferred from the Ministry of Oil to the IA which is in the process of re-equipping and re-training them. This has increased the IA from 35 to 44 brigades.
Brigadier General Swan confirmed that the current expansion plan is to standardize the IA at four brigades to the division and three battalions to the brigade. The plan is to grow the IA to 52 brigades by early 2009 in the following order:
3-14 (Basrah; end 2007)
4-5 (Diyala; early 2008)
4-7 (Rutbah; March 2008)
4-14 (Basrah; mid 2008)
4-3 (SW Ninawa; mid 2008)
4-12 (Salahaddin; late 2008)
The replacement brigades for the 1-10 and 4-1 were not mentioned and are probably scheduled for early-2009.
In parallel with this is the continued motorization of the IA and, more importantly, the upgrade of IA formations with indirect fires elements, which continues from the bottom up. IA companies have received their mortar sections and battalions are receiving their mortar batteries. Following that would be the brigades’ field artillery/heavy mortar battalions starting 2008. Then the divisions’ artillery regiments start to form in 2009. The IA divisions are also forming their own training centers for individual, local leadership, battalion staff, range, collective task, military operations in urban terrain, and close-quarter drill training.
Iraqi Air Force
The Iraqi Air Force also continues to increase training and capabilities. The Iraqi Flight Training School has formed and has a goal “to graduate 160 pilots per year — 80 fixed wing pilots and 80 rotary wing pilots.” Due to some confusion and discrepancies in reporting, Major Sidoti of the Coalition Air Force Training Team e-mailed the following:
“Officially these numbers are releasable, with approval of the MNSTC-I PAO [Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs Officer] (LtCol Brown), to clear up the misinformation that has been circulating via the wikipedia, FAS, and GlobalSecurity websites. At the flight school: 12 Cessna 172s will be in country by end of 2008. 4 by the end of 2007. 5 Cessna Caravan Trainers will be in by 2008. There are currently 5 Bell Jet Rangers used for basic helo training. Another 5 are being purchased, timeline TBD [to be determined]. Not at the flight school: All IqAF [Iraqi Air Force] Huey II helicopters will remain at Taji. No additional Huey II orders. There were 32 on tap, but they were cancelled due to excessive cost overruns. There are currently 14 Mi-17s. An additional 14 are supposedly inbound from a Polish company (2008), but this was an Iraqi-only buy so we’re not sure how many are actually coming in. The IqAF has ordered 8 more Mi-17v5s through the US FMS process, and additional 22 may be added to that order in the next few weeks. The Seeker ISR aircraft are officially grounded, and will be replaced with King Air and Cessna Caravan ISR platforms. In total: 3 Cessna Caravan ISR, 3 Cessna Armed Caravans, 1 King Air Light Transport, 5 King Air ISR.”
Sidoti also e-mailed that: “They were considering expanding their Huey II fleet, but have instead decided to focus the build-up of their Mi-17 helicopter fleet. This will include aircraft configured for Medi-vac, Counter Terrorist/Special Forces Operations, and Battlefield Mobility.” He further noted “…that they have 900+ former Mi-17 pilots and engineers ready and waiting to rejoin the AF. They have a lot of experience with MiL helicopters. The aircraft aren’t the cheapest or most reliable, but it’s what the Iraqis are most experienced with.” Sidoti also confirmed the reported use of Mi-17s for ISOF support. “The Mi-17 is an all purpose helicopter built by the Russians. The ISOF are going to be working with the IqAF in operations, mostly insertion via fast rope with air cover. The ISOF are some bad-ass guys just waiting to get the same support for the IqAF they get from our Army Blackhawks. Sadly, the Iraqis would prefer to buy Blackhawks, but those take 24 months and are 20M a copy.”
Also, the light attack aircraft program was taking too long going through the US so, the Iraqis are. “…doing their own market research right now and should be going sole-source to buy an LAA [light attack aircraft] soon. They really need one in the fight now. They are trying to get something in theater by 2008.” In the interim, they are going to arm their reconnaissance aircraft. They are having Hawker Beechcraft add pylons to their King Air 350 reconnaissance aircraft so they can launch Hellfire missiles. King Air 350s are also being purchased for light transport duties.
Iraqi Ministry of Interior
The 450-man National Police Quick Reaction Battalion deployed from Karbala to commence the 10-week Phase III training.
The National Police have also recruited 2,000 personnel from Anbar. More qualified Anbaris are applying for the police positions. The National Police have also formed the initial staff for formation of their support brigade. The brigade commander and key leaders have been identified and are acting, but, they have yet to get personnel. The brigade is in its infancy and entirely paid for by Government of Iraq. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is doing its own purchases now.
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