Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle 2010-04
DJ Elliott is a retired USN Intelligence Specialist (22 years active duty) who has been analyzing and writing on Iraqi Security Forces developments since 2006. His Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle is an open-source compilation that attempts to map and detail Iraqi units and equipment, as their military branches and internal security forces grow and mature. While “good enough for government use” is not usually uttered as a compliment, US Army TRADOC has maintained permission to use the ISF OOB for their unclassified handouts since 2008.
This compilation is reproduced here with full permission. It offers a set of updates highlighting recent changes in the ISF’s composition and development, followed by the full updated ISF OOBs in PDF form.
This Iraqi Security Force (ISF) update provides a summary of changes to the ISF during March 2010. The Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle is updated as of 31 March 2010.
Separate articles concerning “US Forces-Iraq after 2012?”, “Iraqi Total Force Mobilization Update“, and “Iraqi Armor Speculation and Update” were published during March; with the exception of the US-Iraq issue, they are not addressed here. Highlights in this update include:
- Peshmerga numbers and newly identified brigade.
- Air mobile training for the Peshmerga.
- Possible radio purchase.
- Stryker purchase cancelled or delayed?
- Contract for 2 Offshore Support Vessels awarded.
- New Operational Command and re-designated Military Operational Command.
- 6th Division Headquarters shifting to facilitate new female training center.
- First report of howitzer training outside of 9th Mechanized Division.
- New squadron identified.
- 2 Kurdish Emergency Response Battalions added to Emergency Response Force.
- New DBE “Commando” Battalion in Wassit.
- Kirkuk Emergency Police splits into 2 brigades.
Obtaining accurate open source information about the Peshmerga’s strength is difficult. The Peshmerga has the best OPSEC in Iraq. Press estimates and claims vary widely. However, several details have come out and US Division-North (USD-N) confirmed that approximately 200,000 Peshmerga is the best estimate when you include those personnel that the Kurdish Regional Government plans to pension.
Almost 30,000 of those Peshmerga troops are in the 2 mountain divisions transferring to the Iraqi Army. The 15th and 16th Mountain Divisions were originally planned to be commissioned in August 2008 but, political disputes over funding has postponed their official commissioning. These 2 divisions are probably the Kurdish forces partnering with Iraqi and US forces in the disputed regions of northern Iraq.
During the early elections for Iraqi Security Forces, 58,000 Peshmerga participated in elections. These are personnel that are under the command of the Kurdish Regional Government and do not include Kurdish personnel under Iraqi Ministry of Interior or Iraqi Ministry of Defense command. Kurdish participation was approximately 90 percent which means the reorganizing Kurdish Regional Border Guards is 58,000 to 64,000 personnel.
Another “Peshmerga” brigade has been identified in Kirkuk, however, this 2nd Brigade is probably part of the Iraqi Army subordinate and not-yet commissioned 16th Mountain Division. This is only the 4th Peshmerga brigade identified. The 16th Mountain Division is estimated to include the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Peshmerga Brigades in Kirkuk/Salahadin and the 34th Peshmerga Brigade in north Diyala.
US Army elements have been training “members of the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga” in “air mobile tasks, such as providing perimeter and landing zone security, loading and unloading aircraft, movement formations and detainee operations.” While the reporting refers to these forces as Peshmerga, it is probably elements of the Iraqi Army subordinate and not-yet commissioned 15th Mountain Division.
A US Foreign Material Sales notice of a possible sale of radios indicates the probable equipping of a new Iraqi division. The equipment to be ordered includes: (300) 50-watt Very High Frequency (VHF) Base Station radios, (230) 50-Watt VHF Vehicular Stations, (150) 20-watt High Frequency/Very High Frequency (HF/VHF) Base Station Systems, (50) 20-watt HF/VHF Vehicular Radios, (50) 50-watt Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency (UHF/VHF) Base Stations, (10) 150-watt HF/VHF Vehicular Radio Systems, (10) 150-watt HF Base Station Radio Systems, (30) 20-watt HF Vehicular Mobile Radio Stations, (250) 20-watt HF/VHF Handheld Radio Systems, (300) 50-watt UHF/VHF Vehicular Stations, (10) 150-watt HF/VHF Fixed Base Station Radio Systems, (590) Mobile Communications, Command and Control Center Switches, (4) Mobile Work Shops, High Capacity Line of Sight Communication Systems with Relay Link, generators, accessories, installation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
A fall 2009 briefing indicates that the order of M1126 Strykers may have been canceled. An order of 50 M113 armored personnel carriers is listed with the order of 280 M1A1 tanks in this brief. At least one Iraqi Army brigade that was expected to receive Strykers has been reported training on M113s. This indicates that the Iraqi Army may have decided to use refurbished M113s with their M1A1 tanks instead of buying the more expensive M1126 Strykers for that role.
The 27/7 IA Brigade’s Mortar Battery has been training on US 105mm howitzers. This is the first reported howitzer training in any unit other than 9th Mechanized Division. This training indicates that 7th Division will probably be the 2nd division to receive howitzers in the Iraqi Army.
A new Operations Center has been formed in southern Iraq. The Mid-Euphraties Operations Center was formed in Diwaniyah for the elections and appears to be remaining. “Leaders are now expecting its role to continue even now that the elections are over.” The Operations Centers/Commands are to be the basis of Iraqi Army, Federal Police, and Joint corps headquarters formation. This indicates that the Mid-Euphrates Sector is receiving additional emphasis and probably additional forces.
The Anbar Operational Command is now being called the “Anbar Military Operations Command.” This indicates that this Operational Command may be in the process of converting to an Iraqi Army Corps headquarters.
While a “Wassit Operations Command” was mentioned in one unconfirmed press report, this command is probably the Provincial Police Command Center and not a new Operational Command.
The Iraqi Army 6th Division appears to be shifting its headquarters from Old Al Muthanna to Forward Operation Base Constitution. A Joint Operations Center has been established there and this move would facilitate Iraqi Army plans to open a special center for Female Basic Combat Training at Old Al Muthanna in the future.
Iraqi Air Force
According to Marco Dijkshoorn of the Dutch Aviation Society/Scramble Magazine, the 21st Squadron at Taji Air Base will be the new squadron formed and equipped with armed Bell 407 helicopters.
A contract has been awarded for the detail, design, and construction of 2 offshore support vessels and associated equipment and services for the Iraqi Navy. These vessels are expected to be completed by December 2011. Factoring in transit and training time, these vessels should be operational by mid-2012.
Iraqi Ministry of Interior Forces
Over 1,000 “members of the Kurdish Pershmerga special forces graduated from the Zervani training center after finishing 10 weeks of training” on 2 March. Most press regularly refers to all Kurdish personnel as “Peshmerga” no matter what command they actually belong to. The 30,000 Zerevani are Peshmerga elements transferred to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior that are being retrained and organized as part of the Iraqi Federal Police and MoI’s Emergency Response Force [Special Forces/SWAT]. This report indicates the Emergency Response Force has added 2 Kurdish Emergency Response Battalions and fits with the previously reported expansion of the Emergency Response Brigade to a multi-brigade structure. The ERF is expected to absorb the best half of the provincial SWAT forces, expanding into a 2 to 3 division-sized force by 2015.
A new “commando” battalion has been tentatively identified in the Department of Border Enforcement. The 1st Commando Battalion is located in Wassit. No brigade designation was provided in this report. It could be a re-designation of an existing battalion or the start of a new brigade formation. The DBE has 15 brigades and is planned to grow to 20. DBE’s Region III is expected to gain 2 of those 5 brigades and is responsible for the Diyala/Wassit provinces’ Iranian border.
Press reporting of Kirkuk’s Emergency Police is referring to a “Commander of Suburbs Police” or “Commander of Rural Areas Police” named “Brigadier General Sarhad Qadir”. This indicates that the Kirkuk EP has split into 2 brigades, 1 for the city and 1 for the rural areas.
The US Military & Iraq, Post-2012
The development and modernization plan for the Iraqi Security Force is broken into three 5-year plans:
- Phase 1 (2006-2010): Tactical independence. This means that the ISF is able to perform effective low-intensity conflict [internal security and counter-insurgency] by the end of 2010. This goal has been met.
- Phase 2 (2011-2015): Operational independence. This means the Ministry of Interior forces are developed to the point of taking over internal security and the Ministry of Defense forces are transitioning to external security. While the MoI training and development appears to be on schedule, the MoD equipment and support is not adequately funded. The biggest weakness at this point is the total lack of orders for air defense weapons, indicating there will be no effective Iraqi air defense capacity by 2015. It takes years to produce and deliver weapons, train personnel, and develop the support infrastructure. And that clock does not start until the systems are ordered.
- Phase 3 (2016-2020): Strategic independence. This is what it sounds like. The ISF able to stand on its own. However, the budget issues indicate that 2020 may be an optimistic date.
As you might notice, 2012 is not even a waypoint in the actual Iraqi Ministry of Defense plan for developing the ISF. In 2012, the ISF will be capable of internal security but, will not be able to successfully defend its borders:
- In 2012, the Iraqi Air Force will not have any fighters unless they are provided with used aircraft. Even in that case, they will be 3 years at minimum training personnel to make those aircraft a functional and effective air defense force. Helicopter support forces will be further in development but, still under strength and in training. Fixed-wing transports will still be in delivery. Only the reconnaissance and training wings will be fully operational in 2012.
- In 2012, the Iraqi Army will have 1 modern armored division, 1 old-Soviet equipped mechanized division, plus mechanized brigades equivalent to another mechanized division spread throughout 4 other divisions. That’s only half of the minimum of 6 heavy divisions that are required to cover the key areas of the Iraqi borders, and no reserve. Artillery elements will still be in development, at this time only 1 of the 14 commissioned divisions has howitzers. Likewise, Corps-Troops, engineers and logistics will still be in development. While the supporting logistics is adequate for internal security, it is not even close to adequate for the requirements of a conventional war. The Iraqi Army will still have responsibility for internal security in several areas, since the Ministry of Interior forces will not be fully trained and reorganized to take over.
- In 2012, the Iraqi Navy will still be a year from its remaining 2 offshore support vessels and 15 patrol boats being operational units. Deliveries are not scheduled to be complete until late 2013.
- In 2012, the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Force and Federal Police will be 3 years from completing the retraining and absorption of provincial Emergency Police forces. The Oil Police Directorate is not planned to be ready to fully take over security of the oil infrastructure until 2014. This means that elements of the Iraqi Army will still be performing internal security duties that the MoI is supposed to take over and will not be available to shift to external security until 2015. Additionally the Federal Police and ERF have wartime roles providing forces to the Iraqi Army. Their training for those reserve roles does not start until after 2015, when they have completed their training for their police roles. The Department of Border Enforcement is also still short 5 brigades and support forces for their role and is unlikely to be fully operational in 2012.
The Iraqi Security Forces are not going to be ready for self-defense in 2012. They were never planned to be ready in 2012. Depending on US and Iraqi politics, this is a an optimal military composition of US “Training” forces remaining in overwatch past the 2012 deadline to fill the gaps in Iraqi capabilities.
However, power politics will have its say in this. It is not in the best interests of any of the country’s regimes’ bordering Iraq for Iraq to be a strong, democratic country with a strong Kurdish representation. Almost all of the bordering countries are kingdoms or theocratic dictatorships and Turkey has a problem with the Kurds. Just the existence of such a country bordering them is a threat to their rule as their populations will ask why they cannot have what Iraq has. The increasing exports of oil from Iraq only makes this a bigger problem for those countries as it increases Iraq’s economic influence at their expense.
The current politics of the US and Iraq are such that the request for continued US presence in Iraq must come from the next Iraqi government after it forms. It is unlikely that foreign-related factions will gain enough power to outright block a request for US forces to remain but, if they do, there will be no request and the US forces will be gone in 2012. That would leave Iraq vulnerable for at least a decade.
See “US Forces-Iraq after 2012?” for the full writeup.
Originally published by DJ Elliott at Montrose Toast on April 3/10, and reproduced here with permission, along with an excerpt covering the US in Iraq after 2012. Comments and corrections to these materials are encouraged, please leave them here.
Additional Readings: Full ISF OOB
These documents contain tables with the full OOB as we know it.
- Page 1: Iraqi National Operational Command (NOC)/Joint Forces Command (JFC) [PDF]
- Page 2: Iraqi Army Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) [PDF]
- Page 3: Iraqi Army Northern Forces [PDF]
- Page 4: Iraqi Army Central Forces [PDF]
- Page 5: Iraqi Army Southern Forces [PDF]
- Page 6: Iraqi Air Force (IZAF) [PDF]
- Page 7: Iraqi Navy (IZN) and Marine Corps (IZM) [PDF]
- Page 8: Counter-Terrorism Bureau and Commands [PDF]
- Page 9: Joint Operational Commands [PDF]
- Pages 10-14: Ministry of Interior (MOI)
- MOI Core Units and Emergency Response Force [PDF]
- Iraqi National Police and Provincial [PDF]
- Department of Border Enforcement et. al. [PDF]
- MoI Emergency Police [PDF]
- Oil Police Directorate [PDF]
- Appendix A: Definitions & Acronyms
- Appendix B: ISF Standard Tables of Organization
- Appendix C: ISF Equipment
- Appendix D: Related Articles & Monthly Updates
- Appendix E: 2007 Notes
- Appendix F: 2008 Notes
- Appendix G: 2009 Notes
- Appendix H: 2010 Notes
Additional Readings: DID Articles
Note that the ISF OOB often tracks developments that DID’s articles cannot, until official confirmation exists. On the other hand, DID articles can offer a drill-down into key contracts and their associated developments and background, via an easily-accessible organizing principle. As such, it’s best to treat these sources as separate but complementary. DID thanks DJ Elliott for his frequent assistance, which is credited in many of these articles.
- DID – Iraq Seeks F-16 Fighters
- DID – T/A-50 Golden Eagles for Iraq?
- DID – Iraq Orders C-130Js
- DID – The Penny Drops: Iraq Chooses its COIN Aircraft. And trainers.
- DID – Standing Up the IqAF: King Air 350s. Iraq’s top reconnaissance asset, now adopted by the USA. Iraq’s are reportedly slated to be armed.
- DID – Bird Dogs for the Iraqi Air Force. some of them have teeth, now.
- DID – Medium Mainstay: Mi-17s for Iraq
- DID- Iraq Seeks Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters
- DID – Iraq Orders Eurocopter’s EC635s
- DID – Iraq Looking for More Light/Med. Utility Helicopters
- DID – M1 Abrams Tanks for Iraq
- DID – Iraq: Looking for LAVs in All the Right Places. It appears that the Strykers were ordered, and the LAV-25s were not.
- DID – BAE Delivering a Cougar Variant for Iraq’s ILAV Contract. Iraq’s ILAV/ Badger MRAP. Supplemented by locally-produced Reva vehicles, which are another design.
- DID – Bittersweet Symphony: Lockheed & A-V Deliver Anti-IED Devices. Some of these orders have been Iraqi.
- DID – December 2008: Small Arms for Iraq
- DID – Command Tents and C3 for Iraq
- DID – Iraq Asks for USACE Help With Military Infrastructure
- DID – Iraq to Purchase $1.05B in Medical Items
- DID – Swiftships to Build Up Iraqi Navy’s Coastal Patrol Capabilities
- DID (Dec 9/09) – Ukraine, Iraq in $2.5 Bn Weapons Deal
- DID (Nov 29/09) – AECOM Gets 6-Month Extension to Iraqi Security Forces Maintenance Contract
- DID (June 11/09) – Non-Standard Ammo Orders for Iraq
- DID (Sept 25/08) – Standing Up Iraq’s MoD: A British Snapshot
- DID (Feb 14/08) – VSE, Westar to Help Train Iraqi Pilots
- DID (Oct 7/07) – $2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics. Includes their DSCA request for BTR-3E1s.
- DID (Aug 27/07) – Iraq Requests Another 16 Huey-II Helicopters
- DID (Nov 21/05) – Iraq Receives T-72s & BMPs – With Another Armored Brigade Planned