Tanks often decide battles, unless aircraft are around. Iraq had a lot of unfriendly visits by the USAF from 1991-2003, which left the largest armored force in the region looking to rebuild their armored corps from zero. Early donations and salvage fielded a small set of Soviet-era weapons, but after tangling with the Americans one too many times, the Iraqis knew what they really wanted. They wanted what their opponents had.
On July 31/08, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy M1 Abrams tanks, well as the associated vehicles, equipment and services required to keep them in the field. The tanks will apparently be new-build, not transferred from American stocks. With this purchase, Iraq became the 4th M1 Abrams operator in the region, joining Egypt (M1A1s), Kuwait (M1A2), and Saudi Arabia (M1A2-SEP variant). A similar December 2008 request was confirmed to be additive, and deliveries have now finished on the initial order. So, what’s next?