Up to $750M in Weapons & Support for Iraq
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified the US Congress regarding a pair of requests from the government of Iraq. These requests include an extensive range of small arms, ammunition, and related soldiers’ equipment, as well as armored vehicles and even 20 Russian-designed Mi-17 “Hip” helicopters. A second request involves servicing and maintenance for its vehicle and helicopter fleets.
DID summarizes those requests below, but it’s worth noting that they represent an evolution. For the last few years, the US approach has focused on building up the Iraqi Army’s fighting capacity. Native logistics and support was less important than rifles on the ground, for obvious reasons, and US forces could and do fulfil those support functions. These contracts include a number of provisions for training Iraqi personnel in these back-end tasks, however, as well as equipping them.
The requests are detailed below, along with a number of links to more information about the specific items sought.
The DSCA’s first notification [PDF] involved a Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of helicopters, vehicles, weapons and support as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $500 million.
Requested items include:
- 1,268 Generation (Gen) II Single Tube Night Vision Goggles
- 10,126 M17 9mm Glock Pistols
- 2,126,250 rounds 9mm Pistol Ammunition
- 50,750 M16A2 5.56mm Rifles
- 50,750 M4A1 5.56mm Rifles (a shorter and more flexible Carbine derivative of the M16, often modified for Special Forces use as M4A1 SOPMOD)
- 35,437,500 rounds 5.56mm Rifle Ammunition
- 15 AN/PVS-17 Gen III Assault Weapon Sights. See combat review here.
- 3,442 M24 Sniper Rifles
- 633,328 rounds 7.62mm Sniper Rifle Ammunition
- 40 AN/PVS-10 Gen II Sniper Weapon Sights
- 8,105 M249 Machine Guns (“Minimi” or “Squad Automatic Weapon” 5.56mm light machine gun)
- 1,621,000 rounds 5.56mm Machine Gun Ammunition
- 3,037 M240B Machine Guns (7.62mm medium machine guns, infantry version)
- 1,214,800 rounds M240 7.62mm Crew Served Machine Gun Ammunition
- 9,562 Hand Held Pyrotechnics
- 8,670 Hand Held Smoke Munitions
- Laser pointers
It’s interesting to see the Iraqi Army moving away from their traditional Russian-designed small arms like 7.62mm AK-47 variant weapons and PKM light machine guns, and toward American weapons and calibers. They’re definitely sacrificing stopping and penetration power against their opponents with this move, as well as reducing their ability to reuse captured enemy equipment. In exchange, they receive greater potential accuracy by well-trained troops, the ability to carry more ammunition, and a reduced ability for anti-Iraq forces and/or Islamist paramilitary death squads to steal/capture and then use Iraqi Army equipment. All in all, an interesting exchange.
They also requested a couple items of heavier equipment:
- 20 Mi-17 Troop Transport Helicopters
- 600 Infantry Light Armored Vehicles Armored Personnel Carriers (Cougar derivative)
- Measuring and hand tools for ground systems
Also included: logistics support services & equipment, on-job-training, supply and maintenance support, support equipment, spare and repair parts, technical support, software upgrades, publications and documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
This section deserves special note:
“The Government of Iraq has an assortment of multiple makes of antiquated vehicles with some new vehicles provided under the Multi-National Security Transition Command. The multiple makes of antiquated vehicles are difficult and costly to maintain. The modernization plan calls for purifying the fleet with more capable equipment and services to sustain equipment.”
To that end, implementation of this sale may require the assignment of up to 69 contractor representatives to execute the maintenance program for a duration up to 24 months. There will be up to 11 contractors to field and train Iraqi personnel on operating the equipment and maintenance for 8 months. No specific corporations were named in this release, though a number of the items requested are produced by very specific companies.
The second request [PDF format], also issued on Sept 19, 2006, involves logistics support for Helicopters, Vehicles, Weapons as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $250 million.
The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of logistics support services/equipment for:
- Helicopters (Bell 206 Jet Ranger, Bell Huey II and Mi-17). See this story re: Iraq’s 16 upgraded UH-1 helicopters from Jordan
- Vehicles (Standard/Non-Standard Wheeled Vehicles, Tracked Vehicles, Infantry Light Armored Vehicles, and Armored Personnel Carriers)
- Small/medium weapons and weapon systems
These reuests include on-job-training, supply and maintenance support, measuring and hand tools for ground systems, software upgrades, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
Contractors to perform these functions have not been determined yet, and implementation of this sale may require the assignment of up to 10 Government and up to 65 contractor representatives to oversee up to 10 ground maintenance sites in Iraq for two years.
Individuals wondering why the Iraqis are equipping with M4/M-16 over the Kalashnikov may gain some insight from a March 5/07 MNF-I briefing by Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander, Military Assistant Training Team:
“Q Well, why do you think they went with AK-47s versus — I mean, with M16s versus AK-47s, when they’re so familiar with them and they may be cheap?
BGEN. WOLFF: Yeah, I’m not sure. They went out and tested them. We took them out and they test-fired them. So we had them all sitting there and went out to the range one Saturday and took the minister of Defense and General Babakir and others out there and said, okay, we’re — you pick which one you want. So we had a lot of different weapons, and they shot them all, and they decided they wanted those.
And so we’ll gear them up to get them there now. And that’ll probably be — you know, I said 40 battalions’ worth; that will be the first buy; there’ll probably be more, because you’ve got over a hundred battalions in the army. So some of those weapons will start arriving in late March and then more in April, and then about, you know — in follow-on intervals, they’ll start arriving. It’ll be this year through the end of the year — probably about 30,000 weapons is the number that I — the figure I have.
Q And what do you figure — I’m sorry. What do you figure happens with the AK-47s that they’ll displace? Because I know there’s a lot of concern both about weapons that have been seized and —
BGEN. WOLFF: Sure. Well, it’ll be accounted both ways. So the training plan and the issue plan that’s being developed, if you will, the modernization plan for this, there’ll be accountability of the old weapons. They’ll be turned back in, serial numbers will be checked, confirmed with, you know, the records that have been kept heretofore, and then the M16s, the M4s will be issued out. So, you know, weapons — accountability will be maintained at least on the receipt of old weapons being turned in and then the issuing out of new weapons, and that will be an Iraqi plan that is being put together presently, because you just don’t hand someone a new weapon and say, okay, have fun. You got to go out and shoot it. You’ve got to go out and get it — you basically have to go out and get it zeroed so that the sites refer to your — the way you hold the weapon. So there’s a training plan that goes along with that, and we’re working that with the Iraqis presently.”
- DID (March 30/09) – 22 More Mi-17s for Iraq. ARINC is the American contractor – and the deal has raised some questions.
- DID (March 26/08) – Iraq’s Military Requesting $1.39B in Weapons, Vehicles, and Equipment
- Military.com (Feb 27/08) – Iraqi Army to Ditch AK-47s for M-16s
- DID (Oct 5/07) – $2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics. Including about 123,000 more M16A4s and 12,000 more M4 carbines.