As Iraq’s military gets back to its feet, it has received armored vehicles, up-armored Hummers, and assorted weapons, vehicles, and aircraft. The initial priority on armed combat forces that could be supported by American combat logistics has started to give way to a buildup of Iraq’s own logistics and maintenance capabilities.
On March 21/08, the US DSCA announced a formal request by Iraq’s government for various vehicles, small arms and ammunition, communication equipment, medical equipment, and clothing and individual equipment as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.39 billion.
Weapons & Associated Equipment
In September 2006, “Up to $750M in Weapons & Support for Iraq” described Iraq’s order for a number of American small arms, as well as helicopters and blast resistant vehicles. In September 2007, “$2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics” described a follow-on order that extended a number of those trends.
One trend was Iraq’s move to switch some of its forces to the American 5.56mm M-16/M4, as replacements for its Kalashnikov-derivative assault rifles (2006: 50,750 M16A2 rifles, 50,750 M4A1 carbines; 2007: 123,544 M16A4 Rifles and 12,035 M4 Carbines). A subsequent Military.com report claimed that the switch has become a full replacement program within Iraq’s military. US Army Col. Stephen Scott was quoted as saying that:
“The Iraqis… are very big on U.S.-produced [foreign military sales] materials… Our goal is to give every Iraqi soldier an M-16A2 or an M-4,” Scott said. “And as the Iraqi army grows, we will adjust.”
The goal is reportedly to outfit the entire Iraqi army with at least 165,000 American rifles in a one-for-one replacement. This March 2008 request appears to be another big step toward that process:
* 100,000 M16A4 Assault Rifles
* 140,000 M16A4 Magazines
* 100,000 M4 Weapons
* 4,000 AN/PVS-7D Night Vision Devices
* 1,100 40mm Grenade Launchers
* 3,300 9mm Pistols with Holsters
* 400 Aiming Posts
The move to adopt the M-16 has been praised and panned. American M-16s and M4s have earned a reputation as guns that require consistent daily maintenance in order to perform reliably. That has made them a symbol of a professional army, but any failure to back that symbol with the reality of a disciplined, professional army is likely to lead to nasty surprises. On the other hand, the American weapons come with a program that uses databases and biometrics to track each weapon as it’s assigned, and keep track of it thereafter so it doesn’t go “missing” – something that has been a real problem in the past. Matt Sanchez embedded with the Marines who run the Iraqi Army firing range at Habbaniya, in Anbar province. He captures some of the back-and-forth in a brief and somewhat cryptic comment in “Americanization of the Iraqi Army“:
“It was a long day of firing the AK-47, a rattling weapon that is inaccurate and clunky. Like any Marine, I was very happy when a fellow devil dog handed me the well-known M-16 that we all know and love.
Now, the Iraqis are going to have the same weapon. I spoke to MANY people, both on and off the record, about the adoption of the M-16 as the weapon of choice for the Iraqi Army. The knee jerk reaction of the average soldier was “bad idea”. The reaction of those behind the scenes was a lot more complex and reasonable.”
The ubiquitous Kalashnikov design isn’t likely to fade away in Iraq any time soon, however, and will likely see continued use by local police, citizens, tribal groups, and militias.
The vehicle orders clearly demonstrate the growing focus on back-end logistics in the Iraqi Army.
* 60 Heavy Recovery Vehicles
* 80 Heavy Tractor Trucks
* 50 40-ton Low Bed Trailers
* 30 20-ton Heavy Trailers
* 208 8-ton Heavy Trucks
* 1,200 8 ton Medium Cargo Trucks
* 1,400 8-ton Medium Trailers
* 2,000 5-ton Medium Trucks
* 3,000 4X4 Utility Trucks
* 1,500 1-ton Light Utility Trailers
* 800 Light Utility Trailers
* 40 Heavy Fuel Tanker Trucks
* 120 12K Fuel Tank Trucks
* 120 10K Water Tank Trucks
* 20 2000-gallon Water Tanker Trucks
* 200 500-gallon Water Tank Trailers
* 300 Sedans
* 200 Commercial Ambulances
* 150 Motorcycles
* 90 Recovery Trucks
* 16 Bulldozers
* 8 Cranes
* 16 Loaders
* 65 5K Generators
* 32 Air Conditioner Charger kits
* 32 Air Conditioner Testers
* 20 electrician tool kits
* 5,400 hand-held VHF radio sets
* 3,500 vehicular VHF radio sets
* 4,000 binoculars
* 600 large general purpose tents
* 700 small command general purpose tents
* Medical equipment
* Organizational clothing and individual equipment
* Standard and non-standard vehicle spare and repair parts, maintenance, support equipment, publications and documentation
* U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. The contractors are currently unknown and so are support agreements, though the US intends to use its own deployed personnel wherever it can.
* Military.com (Feb 27/08) – Iraqi Army to Ditch AK-47s for M-16s
* DID Spotlight – The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversy. Including combat experience and sand tests.
* DID (Oct 5/07) – $2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics. Including about 123,000 more M16A4s and 12,000 more M4 carbines.
* Washington Post (Aug 6/07) – Weapons given to Iraq are missing
* US GAO (#GAO-07-711, July 31/07) – Stabilizing Iraq: DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces
* McClatchey Newspapers via Iraq News Monitor (June 4/07) – U.S. military issues M-16 rifles to some Iraqi troops
* Stars and Stripes (May 16/07) – Iraqi soldiers switching over to M-16s and M-4s: Weapon to be paired with a troop through retinal scan, photograph
* Blackanthem (May 11/07) – Iraqi Army receives M-16 and M-4 rifles
* DID (Sept 21/06) – Up to $750M in Weapons & Support for Iraq. Including an interview transcript re: the AK-47 to M-16 decision.
* Hartford Courant (Dec 5/04) – Ex-Marine has West Hartford, Conn., Gun Maker Colt Shooting Straight. Also notes the firm’s political backers in Washington, most prominently Rep. Jack Murtha [D-PA].