Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: April 2008 Update

Iraqi and Coalition forces Order of Battle as of March 31, 2008.

The April 2008 updates to the Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle are now available at the ISF OOB homepage. The significant changes to the Order of Battle that occurred in March are summarized below.

Ministry of Defense (MoD)

This article will start with an administrative matter to reduce confusion. Iraqi MoD Ministerial order 151, dated Feb. 19, renumbered the Iraqi Army brigades as follows (old designation in parentheses):

* 1st Division: 1st (1-1), 2nd (2-1), 3rd (3-1), 4th (forming).

* 2nd Division: 5th (1-2), 6th (2-2), 7th (3-2), 8th (4-2).

* 3rd Division: 9th (1-3), 10th (2-3), 11th (3-3), 12th (forming Apr 2008).

(The number 13 is skipped for brigades.)

* 4th Division: 14th (1-4), 15th (2-4), 16th (3-4), 17th (planned summer 2008).

* 5th Division: 18th (1-5), 19th (2-5), 20th (3-5), 21st (4-5).

* 6th Division: 22nd (1-6), 23rd (forming), 24th (3-6), 25th (4-6), 54th (5-6).

* 7th Division: 26th (1-7), 27th (2-7), 28th (3-7), 29th (operational 3 April 2008).

* 8th Division: 30th (1-8), 31st (2-8), 32nd (3-8), 33rd (4-8).

* 9th Division: 34th Mech (1-9), 35th Tank (2-9), 36th Tank (3-9), 37th (4-9).

* 10th Division: 38th (1-10), 39th (2-10), 40th (3-10), 41st (4-10).

* 11th Division: 42nd (2-6 and 1-11), 43rd (2-11), 44th (3-11), 45th (4-1 and 4-11).

* 12th Division (forming June 2008): 46th (1st SIB), 47th (2nd SIB), 48th (9th SIB), 49th (4-4).

(The number 13 is skipped for divisions.)

* 14th Division: 50th (1-11), 51st (2-11), 52nd (3-11), 53rd (forming May 2008).

Additional Divisions

The latest 9010 Quarterly Report to Congress had some confusion in it. On page 32:

“For the MoD, it represents five new divisions including the previously reported two divisions of the Prime Minister’s Expansion Initiative, as well as three additional planned divisions.” (15 total)

That represents a 15-division total force in the Iraqi Army, including the original 10 divisions. But, on the same page:

“The MoD continues its focus on the first stage of its force generation, fielding the Counterinsurgency (COIN) force. The COIN force will include 13 Army divisions (twelve infantry, one armored) along with supporting forces, a Navy of 1,500 personnel, an Air Force of 4,000 personnel and a 5,750-man Iraqi National Counter-Terror Force (INCTF). The second stage of force generation will focus on the force modernization and transition to a military force capable of defending Iraqi territory against external threats. This second stage is a longer-term effort and not the current focus of activity. Ultimately, the GoI [Government of Iraq] will decide force levels based on national security requirements and its fiscal capacity to sustain a significantly expanded force structure.”

Notice the apparent contradiction between 15 or 13 Iraqi Army divisions. However, the explanation is buried in the same report:

“The JHQ [Joint Headquarters] Chief of Staff has approved the 2008 Force Generation Priority List. However, senior MoD executives-including the Secretary General and the Minister of Defense-have yet to approve it, though they are working from it. While this inaction hinders the ability of MoD and JHQ staff to deliver a coordinated program, force generation is proceeding as scheduled.”

The first quote was from a source that is assuming the 2008 build plan will be formally approved. The second quote is from a source using the current approved force structure. This indicates that there are two additional Iraqi Army divisions in the 2008 build plan. It also explains why the official response is that there are no official orders to form new divisions, and at the same time, there are components and indications of new divisions forming. From Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq in response to a request for information to clarify the numbering and the possibility of a 15th Division:

“The fifth brigade in the 6th division is the 54th. The IA has programmed 5 brigades in the 6th Division – though there are only 4 of the brigades in reality. 2/6 is a question mark right now, there are orders to form it, but it has not happened yet. The Presidential Brigade remains the Presidential Brigade. Whether the 54th is the seed for a 15th Division or not, there is nothing in writing – though it causes one to conclude that is the future.”

This indicates that the unofficially planned 15th Iraqi Army Division is intended for west Baghdad. The 25th IA Brigade has nine battalions, which indicates the beginnings of a shift of 6th IA Division to Iskandariyah (Forward Operating Base Kalsu). Kalsu is also the location of the second training center in 6th Division’s area.

The unofficial 16th Division is probably going to be a split of the 8th IA Division. The 33rd Brigade of the 8th Division has three more battalions forming above standard organization according to Multi-National Division-Central. The 8th is also one of only two Iraqi Army divisions that have their headquarters and training/logistic elements split between two provinces. The other is the 4th Division, which is splitting off elements to the 12th Division in June 2008. The Mid-Euphrates Sector is also the only designated sector to have only one division.

There has been no further reporting or confirmation of the reflagging of two Peshmerga divisions since the budget debate ended. The known locations of Peshmerga brigades and the Iraqi Army’s divisional boundaries indicate their sectors will be in Dahuk, Irbil, Ninawa, Kirkuk, and Sulmaniyah Provinces.

New and planned Unit Formation, Training, and Equipping

The Iraqi Army is putting 118,000 Personnel a year through basic training (18,830 per eight-week cycle), and is expanding the training to 130,000 men a year. The over-manning of all Divisions to 120 percent is continuing, and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Divisions are being further over-manned to 135 percent. This overmanning is to offset the normal 25 percent leave rate, allowing units to be 85 or 100 percent effective manned. As of Feb. 1, the IA has:

* 123 battalions with 37 more forming or planned.

* 17 former Strategic Infrastructure Battalions (SIB) in retraining as Iraqi Army light infantry battalions.

* Six SIBs have completed training along with two SIB brigade headquarters.

In force generation are:

* One division headquarters (12th-Salahadin), five brigade headquarters, and 22 battalions, including the 1st Infrastructure Engineer Battalion that graduated Taji on April 2, 2008.

* An additional two brigades, six support companies, five infantry battalions, and a motor transport regiment were scheduled to start forming at the end of March.

Four Iraqi Ground Force Command (IGFC) Corps headquarters are planned to be formed from the existing operational commands, according to the 9010 report. No further details were given. The locations are probably Basrah, Ninawa, Diyala, and Anbar Operational Commands. Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq had recommended five. It is probable that they are not counting the Baghdad Operational Command (BOC) since BOC is not subordinate to IGFC.

The 1st Engineer Infrastructure Battalion graduated March 31. It was formed and trained at Taji with Ministries of Defense, Electricity, and Oil support. It consists of a headquarters company, two security companies, and an electric repair company, and will add a pipeline repair company in Phase II.

Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF) continues to form its 2nd ISOF Brigade. The 2nd Brigade will control the regional commando battalions and will include a garrison support unit of 766 personnel. These battalions are 440 personnel plus a 60-man support detachment and a Regional Counter-Terrorism Center. Basrah’s and Mosul’s Commando Battalions are 80 percent manned while Diyala’s and Al Asad’s are expected to become operational in May and July, respectively. The Regional Counter Terrorism Centers and the support detachments probably represent the cadre for future regional brigade headquarters and support battalions. Factoring in training time for special operations personnel, the expansion to regional brigades will not start until 2009.

On March 18, the 21st Brigade graduated the Brigade Set Fielding Program at Besmaya. The 29th Brigade graduated the same program at Habbenayah on April 3. This represents the first brigade to graduate this program from a different location than Besmaya and probably means the program is expanding. Also of note, the 27th Brigade has been receiving Air Assault training from the Marines and SEALs.

On March 21, a Foreign Materials Sale notice reported a possible sale to Iraq of: (700) M1151 HMMWV, (200) Ambulances, (16) Bulldozers, (300) Light Gun Trucks, (90) Recovery Trucks, (3,000) 4X4 Utility Trucks, (120) 12K Fuel Tank Trucks, (150) Motorcycles, (300) sedans, (80) Heavy Tractor Trucks, (120) 10K Water Tank Trucks, (208) 8-ton Heavy Trucks, (8) Cranes, (60) Heavy Recovery Vehicles, (16) Loaders, (40) Heavy Fuel Tanker Trucks, (20) 2000 gal Water Tanker Trucks, (2,000) 5 ton Medium Trucks, (120) Armored IEDD Response Vehicles, and (1,200) 8-ton Medium Cargo Trucks. This probably represents the support equipment for the divisional field artillery regiments scheduled to form in 2009 and/or additional logistics elements. Part of this is definitely for the new corps headquarters elements to be formed. (Note the 300 sedans.)

QRF Divisions and Basrah

The 1st Division (Iraqi Intervention Force) has changed status. It now joins the 9th Division as a strategic reserve quick reaction division. This means that its units will be “farmed out to quell hot spots across the country.” Elements of the 1st Division are already reported in Ninawa, Diyala, Baghdad, and probably Basrah. “5 Iraqi Army soldiers from Anbar were killed in the fighting in Basra. Their bodies were returned to their families today.” The 9th Division is also spread out with elements in Ninawa, south Baghdad, and Basrah.

There has been some incorrect information appearing in press reporting on the Iraqi Army’s 14th Division, the main Iraqi Army (IA) formation involved in the operations in Basrah. The CBS report claimed it is the best division in the IA. This is a summary of the Division’s status:

* The 14th Division opening ceremony was four months ago. The HQ components intended for the 12th Division were sent to Basrah last fall to accelerate the 14th’s Division formation. Originally it was not due to stand up until June 2008.

* The 14th Division has the distinction of being the youngest and greenest commissioned IA Division.

* The 14th Division hasn’t got its fourth line brigade (due in June) or logistics components yet (due in late summer).

* The 14th Division got its third line brigade fresh from training. The brigade graduated the Besmaya Unit Set Fielding Program on Feb. 13, 2008.

* The 14th Division’s second line brigade is the former 5-10 Brigade, which was stood up in May 2007, and its cadre came from the corrupt 1-10 Brigade. It is reportedly not trusted by its own commanding officer.

* The 14th Division’s only experienced component is its first brigade. The former 3-8 Brigade from Wassit was re-designated/transferred in, and the corrupt 1-10 Brigade was transferred out.

This is a still forming new division, not the cream of the crop. Arguably, it is the least capable of the IA divisions at this point. However, it has done quite well for their first major operation.

Details of reinforcements sent to the 14th Division are sketchy and unconfirmed. Elements of the 1st IA Division are probably in Basrah and the 1st is arguably the second best IA operational division, after the 8th IA Division.

Ministry of Interior (MoI)

The MoI continues to grow and professionalize. “[T]he Ministry of Interior forces could approach a strength of 500,000, requiring a robust logistical and infrastructure building program to support this growth.” MoI training is planned to grow to 117,000 per year by mid-2009. It is at 73,000 as of February. A major part of those numbers is the Facilities Protection Service (FPS):

“The Facilities Protection Service graduated its first class of 103 students Sunday at Baghdad Police College under a new program to provide professional development training for all FPS guards in Iraq. The FPS is a professional guard force with approximately 107,787 guards that protect the Iraqi government’s critical facilities and its infrastructure. Under the Facilities Protection Service Reform Act, which is expected to become law and be implemented this year, approximately 89,000 guards will eventually become part of the Ministry of Interior and undergo this same training. Currently, these FPS guards work for 28 different ministries and for 14 provinces.”

The “new FPS will be 107,970 (18,968 currently assigned to MoI FPS and 89,002 FPS from other Ministries).”

Focus on expansion of the Iraqi National Police (INP) continues to have priority in MoI. The INP Sustainment Brigade is authorized 2,500 personnel, with 721 currently assigned. The INP is also planning to add a 3rd INP Division headquarters in Salahadin, probably including the Al Askandrian Brigade and the new forming Al Saleh Brigade.

Training of the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) continues to be deferred while their training facilities are used for INP. Current force remains at five regions, 12 brigades, and 44 battalions, but is adding forts to a planned total of 712.

Note: The wiring diagrams have been updated at the ISF OOB homepage.



  • anand says:

    Why does 25th Bde have 54th Bde’s BSB and visa versa?
    It looks to me like the IA will have in one year:
    1 brigade C1, 1 brigade high C2/near C1, 1 brigade C4 (there is not public source data confirming that a 3rd ISOF brigade is forming)
    Presidential Brigade:
    5 combat battalions, all C1 or high C2/near CA
    1 tracked mechanized, 1 wheeled mechanized, 1 airborne air assault, 1 motorized infantry, 5th uncertain.
    Combat line manouver brigades:
    C1, high C2/near C1: 14 brigades
    C2: 32 brigades
    C3: 11 brigades
    C4: 6 brigades (five brigades at a time are in force generation at this moment in time)
    C5: 5 brigades
    C6: 0 brigades
    Total of 68 combat brigades C1 – C5

  • DJ Elliott says:

    “Why does 25th Bde have 54th Bde’s BSB and visa versa?”
    – Thanks for pointing out an error. With the renumbering, every combat unit in the IA had to be changed and I apparently swapped a couple…
    ISOF: If lucky three bdes. I expect only the two with further expansion in 2009. SOF training is a much longer process. Of note, I still expect a fifth independent Cdo Bn in Diwaniyah this year.
    Presidential Brigade: The old Republican Guard Bde (pre-Saddam) had the same role and was three BTR60 mounted Cdo Bns, one BMP1 Mech, and one Tank Bn. Your mix does not fit their job.
    Combat line manuver brigades: My read is a total of 68 combat bdes this year (not incl ISOF and PG) at the rate USF is fielding them but, you are forgetting that the practice is to take cadre from the experienced. Cut your estimate of C1 in half and reduce the C2 by five to eight…
    This is the same reason the INP is not gaining C1s. As units reach C1 they split off cadre for new units reducing them both to C3 but, expanding total numbers.
    Wait until the expansion is done before expecting significant increase in quallity Bdes. This will be true thruout 2009 as well as they split off cadre for the FA Bns as well…

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  • DJ Elliott says:

    Info that has come in since the ICOD on the OOB.
    Units assigned to Basrah prior to March:
    – IA: 36th Armor Bde (9th Div), 50th Bde, 51st Bde, 52nd Bde (broke), ISOF Cdo Bn
    – AF: 70th Recon Sq; det from 4th Sq (4xMi17s)
    – INP: BPPF (2 Bns)
    – IP: 5 or 6 Emergency Response Bns
    Units ID’d sent to Basrah since:
    – IA: 14th Bde (4th Div-Salahadin), 3rd Bde (1st-East Anbar; was deployed to Diyala)
    – AF: Elements of 3rd Recon Sq (Caravan ISR), 23rd Sq (C130), 2nd Util Sq (UH-1H), and 4th Sq (additional Mi17s).
    – INP: ERU Bn (Based in Baghdad; was in Nasariyah) and possibly 1-1 Bde (South Baghdad, relieved by 34th IA Bde in March and unlocated ATT)
    – IP: Karbala Emergency Response Bde (Karbala), Hillah SWAT Bn (Babil)

  • Alex says:

    There has been talk for some time now about acquiring M60 tanks from Greece. How long does it take for these kind of deals to go through? Is something else higher up on the priority list?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Tanks are a “regionally politically sensitive” subject.
    They are looked at as “offensive” weapons by people that do not understand that weapons are neither offensive nor defensive. They are just tools. How they are employed determines whether it is offensive or defensive.
    That makes getting info on the subject like pulling teeth with plyers and unmedicated…
    Current priority is the 17 Divisions worth of infantry, thripling the logistics, establishing maintenance, and establishing corps level command/control.
    2009’s is the Field Artillery, more logistics, and more C2.
    Since the tanks would be parked and inoperable without a logistics and maintenance system to support them, this is a proper priority.
    The IA is getting the APC/MICVs ATT. They are usefull in COIN. Also, which units get tracks telegraphs which are planned as future mech/armor formations:
    – 3rd Div is using M113s
    – 5th Div has some M113s
    – 7th Div may have got some BMP1s
    – 9th looks like becoming armored vice mech
    – 11th has MTLBs and BMP1s
    Also the units tagged as QRF are likely to be future Mech/Armor:
    – 9th Armor Div
    – 1st (IIF) Div
    – probably 4th Div

  • Trophy Wench says:

    I see that A-67 Dragon is being considered for the COIN attacker. Has there been a final word on the procurement of the light COIN attack aircraft or is it still largley speculative? In addition, has there been any new information concerning the arrival/ purchase of the C-212’s from Brazil?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    MNSTC-I says no final decision yet on aircraft type by MoD.
    A COIN Light Attack Squadron is planned for 2009 and the aircraft purchase is exclusively in MoD’s hands and on their dime. Direct purchase, they are not using FMS for this.
    No word on the C212-400s either. This was a direct deal between MoD and Brazil as well.
    They are doing their own purchases exclusive of US on some projects. Including the Lasta-95s…

  • Alex says:

    What is the status of any leftover MiG’s that weren’t blown up in 1991? I’m guessing they’ve been left to rust since we haven’t heard much about them, just curious though

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Of the Iraqi aircraft that survived 1991 and did not go to the Iranian Air Force: All were either destroyed on the ground or burried by the id10ts of Saddam’s Regiem. Apparently, they thought they could be salvaged after being burried in sand…
    The only operational Aircraft from the 1991 IZAF are now wearing IRAF colors and I do not expect the Iranians to return them…

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  • anand says:

    DJ, I was referring to a year from today, not the end of this year.
    In three months, there will probably be 47 IA brigades C3 or better in the fight. 9 months after that 46 C1/C2 IA brigades seems reasonable.
    In many briefings, it is claimed that the new brigade fielding skips C4 and goes straight to C3 in the fight, as well as accelerates C2. I am skeptical. I rate a unit high C4/near C3 in the fight for the first three months they conduct military operations. 52nd Brigade demonstrates that this might be a reasonable assumption. I further assume C2 about 1 year after fielding, or 9 months after C3.
    Your point on C1 is well taken. So the designation C1 or high C2/near C1. But you are right that 14 C1 or high C2 brigades is optimistic within 1 year because of cadre pruning.
    2 years from today, a guesstimate might be:
    Combat maneuver IA brigades:
    C1/high C2: 21 IA brigades (about 30%)
    C2: 37 IA brigades
    C3: 10 IA brigades (about 15% of the IA will be C3 because of combat tempo and rotation, plus some inadequate commanding officers are normal in every army . . . moreover, cadre will continue to be culled for fire regiments and ISC functions.)
    Presidential Brigade = C1
    ISOF = 2 C1 ISOF brigades, 1 high C2 ISOF brigade (and pure speculation on my part, there might even be a fourth C4 ISOF brigade)
    The reason these projections matter is because they determine how quickly American combat maneuver brigades can be withdrawn from Iraq.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Actually, the IA has a simpler methodology for assuming control.
    The first 36 Bdes do not count as they are the minimum baseline.
    Two IA line Bdes formed replace every US Combat Bde. 20 at peak of the surge.
    That is for the combat component only and does not include the logistics. Support elements need to match the size of the combat force.
    Your C3 is optimistic. The US military is 30 percent C3 at any given time. It is called the training/deployment cycle for a reason…

  • anand says:

    “Your C3 is optimistic. The US military is 30 percent C3 at any given time. It is called the training/deployment cycle for a reason…”
    I agree. Part of “training/deployment cycle” in the IA is managed by 20% to 35% overstrenght policy.
    Maybe a better designation is C2, high C3, adjusted for training/deployment cycle.
    Based on your analysis, 68 IA brigades imply 4 US combat brigades.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    36 IA Bdes baseline with 23 Coalition Bdes
    46 IA Bdes = 18 Coalition
    (July will be 15 US and 1 UK Bde)
    56 IA Bdes = 13 US (Uk will be gone)
    66 IA Bdes = 8 US
    76 IA Bdes = 3 US
    82 IA Bdes = 0
    Not including ISOF since they replace Coalition SOF
    Note: The IA will require the accompanying support and fires element for this equasion to work. Currently the US is providing that and 60 percent of our manpower presense in Iraq is to cover the missing support elements of the ISF. 2010-2011 to stand those up.
    Also, it is not an instantanious replacement. There is a field training overlap of 8-12 months…
    And I do not factor in the INP in this because I am also not counting the coalition MP Bdes either…
    Air is a longer pole. Takes two years to train a rookie pilot…

  • Ian says:

    On a different subject, how is the NCO situation starting to look like? Any indications on the quantity and quality of potential NCO candidates who have been serving with the IA for the last few years? Thanks

  • DJ Elliott says:

    That is a decade long project.
    The manning percentage of NCOs doubled in the last quarter (62 percent manning) but,
    that was almost all new Corporals.
    They are taking the top 10 percent performers that demonstrate leadership in bootcamp and sending them to NCO school… (pushbuttons)
    Sergeant and above is still badly undermanned.
    On a good note, they are starting to act like NCOs and lead.

  • Ma5rk Pyruz says:

    DJ: Great map and OB. Thanks.
    Interesting that the map does not identify a Peshmerga unit in Baghdad. During President Ahmadinejad’s official state visit to Baghdad, he was guarded by at least a company sized Peshmerga Guard unit, assumed to be a Presidential Guard unit. An armored brigade is shown located in Baghdad and is identified as “Pres”

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Ma5rk Pyruz
    The Presidential Brigade of the Iraqi Army is a new forming force charged with guarding govermental facilities, etc. At least one bn has already stood up and been issued US weapons.
    It is replacing the contract Guards fro the GoI.
    Data on it is scarce but, it is planned to be a five bn force of mixed light infantry, motorized and armor.
    The presence of a Kurdish component would not be surprising. Mixed force.
    However, They were most likely part of the MoI’s Dignitary Protection Service…


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