There is a reason that “amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics.” Logistics isn’t sexy, tends to be boring, and is always necessary. Without the beans, bullets, and boots, the only tactical options are surrender and/or death. This article addresses the Iraqi Security Forces logistical organization and development.
The Iraqi Security Forces supply systems are based on three models. Modified forms of the US pre-modular, US modular, and the decentralized provincial police system. The major modification to the two US-based formats is that the US forces are expeditionary, while Iraqi forces are not. Iraqi Support elements are built around static supply bases and do not have the extra mobility elements that US forces have. Iraqi forces do not require those extra elements. While the Iraqi Security Forces will have sufficient supply elements for the low-intensity conflict they are currently engaged in, they are three to five years from having the necessary components for the high-intensity conflict of external defense.
Iraqi Army Group and Army. The Army Group level support is provided by the Iraqi Support Command and its subordinate support and maintenance depots in Taji. These depots are static support brigades in all but name. The North Taji Maintenance Depot is a Vehicle Maintenance Brigade with separate tracked, wheeled, and HMMWV repair battalions, plus will probably add a recovery battalion. The South Taji Maintenance Depot is a General Equipment Maintenance Brigade with generator, radio, small arms, and other equipment repair elements. Organization of the National Depots is as follows:
Iraqi Support Command (ISC)
Combined Logistics Operations Center (Headquarters)
– Al Muthanna Vehicle Supply Depot (Battalion)
– Bayji National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion
– Najaf National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion (forming)
Taji National Supply Depot (Brigade)
– Taji National Supply Depot Support Battalion
– Taji National Ammunition Depot Support Battalion
– Taji General Transport Regiment
South Taji (GSE) Maintenance Depot (Brigade)
– Generator Repair Facility (Battalion)
– Radio Repair Facility (Battalion)
– Small Arms Weapons Repair Facility (Battalion)
North Taji (Vehicle) Maintenance Depot (Brigade)
– Tracked Vehicle Maintenance Depot (Battalion)
– Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Depot (Battalion)
– HMMWV Refurb/Insp/Transition Depot (Battalion)
– Vehicle Recovery Battalion (probably planned)
Taji also has a sustainment brigade. The Taji National Supply Depot is a Sustainment Brigade complete with supply, ammunition and transport components. There are two additional ammunition depots forming that are probably the first components of two additional Sustainment Brigades. These three sustainment brigades would be the Northern (Bayji), Central (Taji), and Southern (Najaf) Army’s Sustainment Brigades in wartime. This also has the benefit of providing supply redundancy for the Iraqi Army. The Taji-based elements are to be complete by the end of 2008. The Najaf and Bayji elements are two to three years from operational.
Iraqi Army Corps. Each of the four planned army corps will probably get a sustainment brigade of its own. These brigades are more likely to be mobile compared to the Army/Army Group level formations and will provide for the extra support needed at key areas within the corps area in operations. Components will include maintenance, sustainment, and transport battalions. These components are planned to be formed by the end of 2011.
Iraqi Army Divisions. Divisional logistics is a sustainment brigade in all but name. There are two formats at this level, the heavy divisions are modeled on US modular format and the light divisions are organized on the US pre-modular format. Heavy divisions (armor/mech) are provided with a Maintenance Battalion and a Location Command. The Location Command is the same thing as a sustainment battalion, except it has more fixed facilities. Light divisions (infantry/motorized/commando/mountain) are the same, except they also have a Motor Transport Regiment. It is possible that the heavy divisions will gain a Motor Transport Regiment when they add artillery components. The extra supply transport will be needed. These components are to be formed by the end of 2008. However, if the Iraqi Army adds the divisional motor transport regiments to the heavy divisions, they will not be complete until 2011 at earliest.
Iraqi Army Brigades. Brigade logistics also employs the same two heavy and light organizations. Heavy brigades have Brigade Support Battalions with maintenance, sustainment, and transport companies. Light brigades have only their headquarters and Support Company. Again, with the addition of mortars and field artillery, light brigades are likely to gain sustainment battalions. These components are formed as the brigades are built. However, if the Iraqi Army adds the extra brigade support battalions to the light divisions, they will not be ready until 2011 at earliest.
Iraqi Army Battalions. Battalions are provided with only their headquarters and support companies. Their subordinate companies are dependent on battalion level support and do not have supply sections. The headquarters and support companies are formed with the battalions.
Air Force and Navy. The Iraqi Air Force and Navy are static forces with their logistics components consolidated at their bases. Their upper level support is provided by the Iraqi Support Command. They both have some inherent transport capacity in their transport aircraft and support ships. Current emphasis is on forming the infrastructure and support elements for future combat components. This will facilitate the immediate support of new squadrons as they are formed, leaving only squadron level maintenance and support to be built with their formation. The Navy should be fully mission-capable by the end of 2012 and the Air Force by 2018.
Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Although light, these forces are very mobile. Like heavy brigades, the 1st Special Operations Brigade has its own Brigade Support Battalion. A Force Garrison Support Unit (sustainment battalion) is also being formed with detachments augmenting their separate regionally based combat battalions. The 15th Special Operations Squadron will also bring an inherent transport and support capacity to Iraqi Special Operations Force units, as needed. Upper level logistics support is provided by the Iraqi Support Command. Logistics support is formed in parallel with new combat elements in ISOF.
Iraqi National Police. The Iraqi National Police is forming a Sustainment Brigade and will probably form four more. One for each region (corps). Divisional supply will probably mirror Iraqi Army light divisions, as their brigade and battalion levels already do. The Iraqi National Police is approximately two years behind the Iraqi Army in development. Currently, the divisional support has not been built, which is why the National Police has limited ability to support operations outside the Baghdad region. Deployed National Police brigades usually lean on Iraqi Army support when not in the Baghdad area. Higher level support is provided by the Iraqi Support Command. The National Police logistics is two years from logistics support for its primary role of internal security and three to five years from necessary components for its secondary role of external security backup to the Iraqi Army.
Department of Border Enforcement. Like the Iraqi National Police, the Department of Border Enforcement is organizing its logistics support along the lines of Iraqi Army light divisions. However, the Department of Border Enforcement has lower priority than the Iraqi National Police, and logistics elements are still very thin on the ground. This lower priority means they are five years from the necessary components for the secondary role of external security backup to the Iraqi Army.
Iraqi Police. Like most of the world’s provincial and local police departments, the Iraqi Police logistics is decentralized into their precinct houses with upper level support provided by the provincial government and the Ministry of Interior.
The only differences in Iraqi Security Forces logistical organization and the US systems is that the Iraqi supply, sustainment, and maintenance elements are more likely to be static, and thus have differing designations. Those elements are tied to fixed warehouses and facilities, while US forces, due to their expeditionary nature, are more mobile. Because the duties of the ISF are not expeditionary, this should not be a problem. While Iraqi forces will have sufficient logistics support for internal security over the next year, it will be three to five years before they are capable of supporting the high-intensity combat of external security.
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