Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: May 2008 Update

Iraqi and Coalition forces Order of Battle as of April 30, 2008.

The May 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 April are summarized below.

Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC)

During General Petraeus’ testimony on April 8, the schedule for Iraq’s provinces taking primary responsibility for their own security was listed on one of the slides. In the plan for Provincial Iraqi Control, Anbar is scheduled for June 2008, Qadisiyah for July, Babil and Wasit for November, Baghdad and Diyala for December, Ninewa and Salahaddin for January 2009, and Kirkuk (Tamin) is to be determined. The schedules for Provincial Control regularly have slid backward and should be looked at as tentative until each handover ceremony is actually held.

Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC) Quick Reaction Forces (QRF)

The 1st Iraqi Army Division has officially joined the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division as a part of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command Quick Reaction Forces. The forces currently under 1st Division in Basrah are the 1st, 3rd, 14th, and 26th Brigades from Anbar and Salahadin Provinces. Their rapid deployment to Basrah with no notice indicated a significant improvement in Iraqi Army capabilities. In August 2006, the Iraqi Army couldn’t deploy three battalions to Baghdad with a month’s notice. They had some difficulty deploying three brigades to Baghdad in early 2007 with plenty of notice. Now they are able to deploy an entire division to Basrah in five days with no notice. This would be difficult even for the US Army to accomplish.

The forces belonging to the 1st and 9th Divisions are almost all deployed out of their garrisons which indicates they have no further reserves in the QRF available at this time.

1st Division HQ based: Habbenayah, Anbar. Deployed to: Basrah.

• 1st Brigade based: Ramadi, Anbar. Deployed to: Basrah.

• 2nd Brigade based: Falujah, Anbar. Deployed to: Taji, north Baghdad (probably for motorization and training).

• 3rd Brigade based: Habbenayah, Anbar. Deployed to: Basrah.

• 4th Brigade based: Abu Ghraib, Anbar. Deployed to: Baghdad (Rusafa).

9th Division HQ based: Taji, north Baghdad. Deployed to: Forward Operating Base Hammer, south Baghdad.

• 34th Brigade based: Taji, north Baghdad. Deployed to: FOB Hammer, south Baghdad.

• 35th Brigade based: Taji, north Baghdad. Deployed to: Baghdad (Sadr City).

• 36th Brigade based: Taji, north Baghdad. Deployed to: Basrah (except one battalion).

• 37th Brigade based: Taji, north Baghdad. Deployed to: Mosul (except one battalion).

The deployment of 14th and 26th Brigades to Basrah indicates that the 4th and 7th Divisions may be added to the Quick Reaction Forces. However, this is unconfirmed. The assignment of the 4th Division would not be likely until the 12th Division finishes splitting off and assuming control of its sector. The assignment of the 7th Division would make all the Iraqi Army forces in Anbar part of the Quick Reaction Force.

Iraqi Army (IA) Force Development

The 29th IA Brigade graduated the Unit Set Fielding program at Habbenayah on April 3. This was the first brigade to graduate this training and equipping program from a location other than Besmaya. This graduation combined with the 1st Iraqi Army Engineer Infrastructure Battalion graduating the same program on April 2 indicates the expansion of the program and an acceleration of unit fielding. The Iraqi Army has been fielding one new brigade per month average over the last year.

On April 20, it was announced that Iraq has engaged in a contract to purchase 411 Symphony counter-improvised explosive device jammers. “After numerous technical and administrative delays, fielding is now under way within the Baghdad area of operation. Along with tier one and two vehicles the system will also be distributed to a number of Iraqi forces as well,” said Coen McFarland, Program Office Liaison. “These forces include the Iraqi Special Operation Forces, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of the Interior elements to include the Iraqi Army, police, national police and explosive ordinance disposal units.” The system is already up and running in a few vehicles with more slated within the next month and the rest of the systems to be fully employed by summer. “To field the remaining systems this summer the fielding efforts will be transitioned from here to Taji,” said McFarland. “The Taji National Depot will be our long term Symphony installation and maintenance facility after the transition.”

On April 28, the first operational mention of the EE9 equipped 37th Reconnaissance Battalion was noted in reporting. This battalion is apparently advised by US Special Forces. It received its 90mm gun armed armored cars in January.

Issue of M4 and M16s has started at Qayyarah West. This indicates that the northern divisions are now being re-equipped with US personal arms. Previous issues have been from Habbenayah, Taji, and Besmaya. Iraqi Divisions equipped with US personal arms are the 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 14th, and ISOF.

Ministry of Interior

The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi National Police graduated phase III Carabinieri training on April 21. This is the third battalion to graduate this advanced training. The other two are the Emergency Response Unit (Dec 19, 2007) and the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade (Feb 19, 2008). One battalion per brigade is to receive this training and then that battalion will train the rest of its brigade.

Iraq’s Department of Border enforcement has renumbered its 12 brigades. Like the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi National Police, they are now consecutively numbered.

Speculation on future Corps and the Status of the Peshmerga


In “The Real Surge Continues: Iraqi Army Corps Formation,” last month’s update was corrected. What follows is more speculation on the future organization and strength of the Iraqi Army.

On April 17, the Iraqi Chief of Staff indicated that the two Peshmerga divisions will be under the Ministry of Defense like the other IA Divisions. This is only a quarter of the Peshmerga’s size. On April 23, “The Premier announced significant progress on the future and status of the Peshmerga forces, the constitutionally mandated regional guard. Two divisions of the Peshmerga will be incorporated into the Iraqi army and stationed in the Kurdistan Region. The other Peshmerga forces will be funded by a special allocation from Baghdad and form a regional guard for the Kurdistan Region. A commission from the federal Ministry of Defence will travel to the Kurdistan Region to address the issue in the near future.” This indicates that the Kurdish Regional Government has negotiated an agreement with the Government of Iraq for a de facto fifth Iraqi Corps: The Kurdish Regional Guards.

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  • Marcello says:

    Some observations on TOE
    “Mechanized: 4x Mech Plts and Command Element (9 APCs or BMP1s/2 HMMWVs).”
    How does that work out? Three platoons ride on the APCs but where is the space for the fourth? They can’t stick in a couple of HMMWVs, can they?
    “Tank: 3x Tank Plts, Mech Plt and Command Element (9 Tanks/3 BMP1s/2 HMMWVs).”
    I take that three tanks platoons are in use?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    The IA is understrength in vehicles, especially tanks, ATT. So it is not unusual to see truck mounted mixed with armor. Those numbers are observed numbers. Not planned numbers. Expect them to increase as they get sufficient equipment.
    Some of the newer units going thru the Unit Set Fielding Program, that started in December, have been getting 12 armored vehicles per company. The observations of the others is probably due to a combination of non-operational vehicles and the tank shortage.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    One thing to keep in mind about IA equipping: They are in an interim stage.
    For training purposes they have regularly fielded companies and battalions with a partial element of armored vehicles.
    This allows them to train the unit on the equipment pending the arrival of the rest of the vehicles. They use trucks to round out their transport in the meantime.
    Numbers will be low as a result.
    And, as I have said before, they are using BMP1s as light tanks to round out their armor due to the shortage of MBTs.

  • Marcello says:

    So I take that the desired end state for tank company would be something like 3 x four tanks platoons + two HMMWVs for the command element.
    And that four infantry platoons per company is pretty much the standard (or at least desired) state for infantry companies (be them motorized, mechanized or else).

  • DJ Elliott says:

    That appears to be the case.
    How long until they reach that state is the real question.
    Could change as they adjust and gain experience.
    Their organization is already reflecting modifications from practical field experience and their armor always is deployed as mixed force these days. Haven’t seen pure Tank or APC companies in the field in over two years. Only place you see that is in the maintenance yards.
    I still cannot get straight answers about tanks due to “regional political sensativities”. Tanks are looked at as offensive weapons and the neighbors are nervious about a strong Iraq…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    One more thing to keep in mind.
    They are still missing the indirect fires elements in all of the armor/mech units. That will add to the vehicle count and firepower. I am expecting M113 120mm mortar carriers to be the norm in the armor/mech bns…

  • bubarooni says:

    this is great stuff, the teeth of the new IA.
    one thing i’d like to see, if anyone can find it, is info on the ancilliary units you need for a ‘real’ army, the tail of the army. engineers, communications, transportation and all the other units you have to posess to have a truly modern army.
    the hardest part too!

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Look up the US Army Field Manuals.
    The IA is being built to US style organization.
    And the OOB pages include those components as they are identified.
    Although, the IA does use different names for some units:
    – Location Command = Support Brigade
    – Base Support Unit = Sustainment Battalion
    – Motor Transport Regiment = Transport Bn

  • anand says:

    DJ can you ask the status of the combat engineers and EODs?:
    Perhaps ask how long it will take for every IA brigade BSTB to get 1 combat engineering and 1 EOD company each? How many Brigades already have C3 or better combat engineering and EOD companies?
    Another question would be the status of the construction engineering battalions (one per division.)
    1 C3 in the fight
    1 C4 being trained
    1 C5 getting ready in the pipeline (probably)
    10 C6 (one for each of the 13 planned divisions)
    probably 3 other construction engineering battalions planned for 15th, 16th and 17th IADs. Possibly even 1 planned for the ISOF, although that is speculative.
    It looks like 1 construction engineering battalion comes out every 2 months.
    In 1 year:
    3 C2 or better
    4 C3
    2 C4
    7 C5 or C6 (assuming 16 total.) I think force generation increases to 1 a month in 2009 (when all the combat engineering and EOD companies for planned combat line brigades are complete.)
    There hasn’t been a clarification on the record in blogger briefs for a while, and as we know iSF force generation plans change rapidly.

  • anand says:

    DJ could you ask for a timeline on BSU and RSU (for Corps brigades) progression through readiness ratings?
    What is the current planning on GSUs for the BSBs for each Brigade? They were consolidating GSUs into BSUs earlier.
    It looks like they plan to complete 13 BSUs C3 or better in the fight in less than 1 year, at which point RSUs and GSUs are prioritized. All 16 IA BSUs complete in 2 years.
    ISOF looks to be moving towards 1 GSU per bde BSB for now. At end state, they also probably have one RSU or BSU type formation to supply the entire ISOF.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    There are four div engr bns up. The rest is planned to be built out from the partial status they have now in 2009/10. They have been building the EOD and engr companies for the bdes and plan to have those done this year.
    Objective for this year is to build the div “Location Commands” which is the IA term for Div Support Brigades and the Taji National depot.
    The corps are planned to be fully stood up by end-2011. Their Sustainment Brigades will probably stand up after they finish the Army Depots and Div Support which means they are in the 2009-2011 timeframe.
    The BSBs are not on the adjenda yet. But they will need them as they motorize and get FA. They plan to be fully motorized by 2010 and start getting FA in 2009. They tend to build teeth first so, that means BSBs are probably 2011…
    The format for ISOF is a different subject. They have a longer time in training and they have an air component to factor in. Look for a target of end-2011 for the cdo bns, BSTBs and BSBs with end-2011 for Div Support and aviation…

  • Alex says:

    I noticed some more T72s. Any progress on the Greek deal for M60s?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Negs. They are being very tight on data concerning tanks. “Regionally Political Sensitive” subject according to one MNSTC-I briefer…

  • Marcello says:

    “And that four infantry platoons per company is pretty much the standard (or at least desired) state for infantry companies (be them motorized, mechanized or else).”
    A doubt crept in my mind. Are those four platoons all rifle platoons or is it three rifle platoons + a weapons platoon where the company support weapons (60mm mortars MMGs etc.) are kept?
    I ask this because three rifle platoons is pretty much the standard in the US AFAIK.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    They have been reported with both variations.
    Some of the companies do not have the weapons plt and have four line plt.
    Others have three line and a weapons plt.
    The varience appears to be intentional and standardized within in the bns’ structures…

  • Marcello says:

    Many thanks

  • Marcello says:

    Also, if it is known, do they use four squads per platoon or three?
    I would guess three given the numbers supplied, but I was not sure.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    You are getting into the weeds…
    They are spliting the platoons between three vehicles (BMP/DZIK/trucks) where they are mounted. That indicates three squads.
    But they go with five vehicles with HMMWV/pickups.
    So there is varience in platoon level organization depending on how mounted… (or not mounted)


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