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Iraqi Army
Active 1917 - present
Country Iraq
Branch Army
Size some 197,000 (2010 est.)[1]
Part of Ministry of Defence
Headquarters Baghdad
Anniversaries January 6[2]
Engagements Anglo-Iraqi War, 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, Iraq War
Commander of the Army[4] Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majid[3]

The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I.

Today, it is tasked with assuming responsibility for all Iraqi land-based military operations following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Army was rebuilt along U.S. lines with enormous amounts of United States Army assistance at every level. Because of the ongoing Iraqi insurgency, the Iraqi Army is designed to be an objective counter-insurgency force for a period of time until the insurgency is diminished to a level that the police can handle.[5] Thereafter, the Iraqi Army will undergo a modernization plan which includes purchasing more heavy equipment.



Prior to the formation of modern Iraq the region fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, and Iraqi troops would have fought as part of the Military of the Ottoman Empire. Upon assuming control of the region in 1917 The British established a local military force, the Iraq Levies, to protect Royal Air Force bases, man outposts, and provide general security for the area.

Following the establishment of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia (1920-1932), and its independent successor state, the Kingdom of Iraq, the Royal Iraqi Army (RIrA) would become the primary military force in the country, with the Iraqi Levies remaining under British command. A period of instability lasting from 1936 through 1941 saw the RIrA participate in a number of coups against the government, ultimately resulting in anti-British government being installed in April of 1941. Heightening tensions between the new anti-British government and the United Kingdom ultimately led to the brief the Anglo-Iraqi War which saw the Iraqi forces overwhelmed, and the restoration of the pro-British government in Iraq. British forces were finally withdrawn from Iraq on 26 October 1947. The Royal Iraqi Army would later play a limited, and ultimately unsuccessful role in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

In 1958 the Iraqi government was once again overthrown by the army, and the Republic of Iraq was formed. Following the coup, friendly relations were established with the Soviet Union. This would eventually influence the organization and equipment of the Iraqi Army, particularly after falling under control of Saddam Hussein in the 1970s. Yet Kenneth Pollack makes clear that British influences on doctrine and organisation remained dominant.[6] The period between 1960s and the 1990s would see Iraq become involved in a number of international conflicts, including the Six-Day War (1967), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Invasion of Kuwait (1990), and the resulting Gulf War (1990-1991). The protracted Iran-Iraq war and costly defeat during the Gulf War left the Iraqi Army under-equipped and with poor morale. Economic and military restrictions placed on Iraq following would make it difficult for the army to rebuild its forces.

Following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq the Iraqi Army was disbanded. With the establishment of a new, democratic Iraqi government, the international restrictions placed on the Iraqi economy and military acquisitions were lifted. The new Iraqi government, with international assistance, has pursued an aggressive plan for rebuilding and modernizing the Iraqi Army.


Iraqi T-72s in 2006.

The Iraqi Army began the Anglo-Iraqi War with a force of four divisions. A fifth was formed in 1959. By the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, the force had grown to nine divisions. By 1990, with wartime expansion, the force had grown greatly to at least 56 divisions, but of lower quality. After the defeat in the Persian Gulf War, force size dropped to around 23 divisions, as well as Republican Guard formations. The new army formed after 2003 was initially planned to be three divisions strong, but was then raised to ten divisions, and the force is now expected to grow to at least 16 divisions.

"It is important to note that in the initial fielding plan, five army divisions would be tied to the regions from where they were recruited and the other five would be deployable throughout Iraq. This was partially due to the legacy of some army divisions being formed from the National Guard units and has caused some complications in terms of making these forces available for operations in all areas of Iraq, and the military becoming a truly national, non-sectarian force."[7]

According to the United States Department of Defense Measuring Safety and Security in Iraq report of August 2006, plans at that time called for the Iraqi Army to be built up to a approximately 300,000-person force. This was based around an Army with 10 infantry divisions and 6 mechanized infantry division consisting of 36 brigades and 113 battalions (91 infantry, 12 special forces, 24 mechanized infantry, 60 armored battalions, 1 security). Nine Motorized Transportation Regiments, 5 logistics battalions, 2 support battalions, 5 Regional Support Units (RSUs), and 91 Garrison Support Units (GSUs) are intended to provide logistics and support for each division, with Taji National Depot providing depot-level maintenance and resupply. Each battalion, brigade, and division headquarters will be supported by a Headquarters and Service Company (HSC) providing logistical and maintenance support to its parent organization. The Army will also include 17 SIBs and a Special Operations Forces Brigade consisting of two special operational battalions.[5]

More recently, the force size has exceeded 17 divisions and commentator DJ Elliott expects the Army to be built up to over 20 divisions.

Current Status

The Iraqi Army has 17 divisions, 56 brigades, and 185 combat battalions. The 6th Division and the 17th Division are still missing their fourth maneuver brigades.

Three of the 56 brigades are not Iraqi Ground Forces Command combatant brigades and are not assigned to a division. They are the Baghdad Brigade formed in the fall of 2008, the 1st Presidential Brigade formed in January 2008, and the new 2nd Presidential Brigade formed in the spring of 2009. These three independent “praetorian” security brigades are still building and only have six combat battalions between them.

Budget problems are continuing to hinder the manning of combat support and combat service support units. The lack of soldiers entering boot camp is forcing Iraqi leaders at all levels to face the dual challenge of manning and training enabler units out of existing manpower.

Divisions are forming engineer, logistics, mortar, and other units by identifying over-strength units, such as the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) battalions and other headquarters elements, and then transferring them as needed. Recently, the Ministry of Defense issued an order to all Iraqi Army divisions requiring analysis on the effect of dissolving the 4th Battalion in each brigade and using those soldiers to man enabler units throughout the IA.

The new army continues preparation for the fielding of 120mm mortar batteries and 81mm mortar platoons. The start of unit mortar fielding was planned in July 2008.

The Iraqi Special Operations Forces are a Ministry of Defence (Iraq) funded component that reports directly to the Prime Minister of Iraq.[8]


As of August 2009, the soldiers of the Iraqi Army were organized as follows:[9]

  • Four regional commands. The Baghdad Operational Command falls under the direct command of the prime minister in the National Operations Center, while the other three commands fall under the command of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command.
  • 13 divisions (1st-14th, the designation 13 not being used).[10] Each Iraqi army division has four line brigades, an engineering regiment, and a support regiment. In 2009, a field artillery regiment will be added to each division, with an artillery battalion added to each brigade.
  • 105 combat battalions.
An Iraqi Army Ashok Leyland Truck of Indian Origin
      • Karkh Area Command (KAC) - Western Baghdad. Responsible for the Kadhimiyah, Karkh, Mansour, Bayaa, and Doura Security Districts.
      • Rusafa Area Command (RAC) - Eastern Baghdad. Responsible for the Adhamiyah, Rusafa, Sadr City, New Baghdad, and Karadah Security Districts.
      • 6th Motorized Division: – Western Baghdad
      • 9th Armored Division – Taji – Division certified and assumes responsibility of the battle space of north Baghdad Governorate June 26, 2006.[12]
        • 34th Mechanised Brigade (Desert Lions)
        • 35th Armoured Brigade - Attached to 2nd Division, Mosul
        • 36th Armoured Brigade - Attached to 14th Division, Basra
        • 37th Cavalry Brigade - Attached to 2nd Division, Mosul
      • 11th Infantry Division – East Baghdad (Probably planned to become mech div)
        • 42nd Infantry Brigade - ('Tigers') - Adhamiyah (NE Baghdad) (former 2nd Bde, 6th Division)
        • 43rd Infantry Brigade - Western Baghdad
        • 44th Infantry Brigade - Sadr City
        • 45th Infantry Brigade - Eastern Baghdad
      • 17th Commando Division – HQ Mahmadiyah The 17th Division commander has been reported as Staff Maj. Gen. Ali Jassam Mohammad.
        • 23rd Commando Brigade
        • 25th Commando Brigade - 'Baghdad Eagles' - former 4th Bde, 6th Div. Has received commando training by U.S. Special Forces and air assault training.
        • 55th Commando Brigade
Members of Iraqi Army 3rd Brigade, 14th Division march during their graduation ceremony Feb. 13 2008. 5 weeks after graduation, the brigade took part in Operation Knight's Assault.
    • Basrah Operational Command – Basrah
      • 8th Commando Division
      • 10th DivisionAn Nasiriyah[18]
      • 14th Division – Basrah[19] - division commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Noor Swady al Dalmy [1]
    • Anbar Operational Command – Ramadi


Iraqi soldiers perform a live-fire exercise using Egyptian Maadi rifles

Training of Iraqi forces was initially done by private contractors, transitioned to coalition forces, and is now done by three Iraqi training battalions. Training has been impeded by domestic instability, infiltration by insurgents, and high desertion rates.[citation needed]

Since June 2004, the partnership between Coalition forces and Iraqi forces has increased due to the growing number of battalions in the Iraqi army, which then stood around 115. Out of this number, it was deemed that 80 of them were able to carry out operations in the field with Coalition support limited to logistics and strategic planning, whilst another 20-30 battlions still needed major Coalition support to carry out their operations.

As of October 5, 2005 the New Iraqi Army had 90 battalions trained well enough to be "deployed independently", i.e. without the help of others such as the United States.[21]

There are three levels of troop capability in the New Iraqi Army: one, two, and three. Level three refers to troops that have just completed basic training, level two refers to troops that are able to work with soldiers, and level one refers to troops that can work by themselves.

Members of NATO's training mission in Iraq (NTM-I) opened a Joint Staff College in ar-Rustamiya in Baghdad on September 27, 2005 with 300 trainers. Training at NATO bases in Norway, Italy, Jordan, Germany, and Egypt have also taken place and 16 NATO countries have allocated forces to the training effort.[22]

MNF-Iraq are also conducting ongoing training programs for both enlisted men and officers including training as medics, engineers, quartermasters, military police, and so forth. Outside of the various courses and programs being held in-country, both American staff colleges and military academies have begun taking Iraqi applicants, with Iraqi cadets being enrolled at both the United States Military Academy and the US Air Force Academy.[23]

Recruits and enlisted men

Iraqi Army recruits undergo a standard eight week [24] basic training course that includes basic soldiering skills, weapons marksmanship and individual tactics. Former soldiers are eligible for an abbreviated three week "Direct Recruit Replacement Training" course designed to replace regular basic training to be followed by more training once they have been assigned to a unit.

Soldiers later go on to enroll in more specific advanced courses targeted for their respective fields. This could involve going to the Military Intelligence School, the Signal School, the Bomb Disposal School, the Combat Arms Branch School, the Engineer School, and the Military Police School.


The Iraqi Armed Service and Supply Institute located in Taji plays a significant role in training aspiring Iraqi non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers. The training is based on a Sandhurst model due to its shorter graduation time compared to West Point.

CMATT's main recruiting stations are located in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. The most desired recruits are individuals who have prior military service or are skilled in specific professions such as first aid, heavy equipment operation, food service and truck driving. A recruitment target of approximately one thousand men is desired to eventually form a 757-man battalion. Soldier fallout usually occurs due to voluntary withdrawal or failure to meet training standards.

Due to the current demand for these battalions to become active as soon as possible, the first four battalions' officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men are being trained simultaneously (in separate groups). Notable differences in training between CAATT and former training under Saddam's regime include schooling in human rights, the laws of land warfare, and tolerance in a multi-ethnic team.

Based on the philosophy used by the U.S. military to boost its own size in response to World War II — that an army can be built faster by focusing on the training on its leadership rather than enlisted men — CMATT has pursued a similar strategy of focusing recruitment and training on commissioned and non-commissioned officers for the remaining 23 Iraqi battalions. Upon successful completion of officer training, these groups of officers will form the battalion's leadership cadre, which will then be responsible for overseeing its own recruitment, training, and readiness of its enlisted men. It is hoped that having the Iraqi leadership train its own will overcome problems faced by CAATT's training process; namely recruitment, desertion, and unit loyalty.

Military Transition Teams

All Iraqi Army battalions have embedded U.S. Military transition teams, according to the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. The MiTTs advise their Iraqi battalions in the areas of intelligence, communications, fire support, logistics and infantry tactics. Larger scale operations are often done jointly with American battalions. This operational training aims to make the battalion self-sustainable tactically, operationally and logistically so that the battalion will be prepared to take over responsibility for battle space.

The level of the U.S. advisory effort is insufficient. The DOD (as of March '07) reported that 6000 advisors arranged in 480+ teams were embedded with Iraqi units.[25] However, in April, the Congressional Research Service reported that only around 4000 U.S. forces were embedded with Iraqi units at a rate of 10 per battalion.[24] Defense analyst Andrew Krepinevich argued that the roughly twelve advisors per Iraqi battalion (approximately 500 troops) is less than half the sufficient amount needed to efficiently implement the combat advisory effort [26]. Krepinevich argues that officers try to avoid taking on advisory tasks due to the US Army's practice of prioritising the promotion of officers that have served with a U.S. unit over ones that have served with foreign forces.[27]


New Iraqi Army T-72

Virtually all of the equipment used by the former Iraqi Army was either destroyed by the U.S. and British during Operation Iraqi Freedom or was looted during the chaotic aftermath shortly after the fall of the Hussein regime. Four T-55 tanks however have been recovered from an old army base in al-Muqdadiyah and are now in service with the 1st Mechanized Division.

A Ukrainian-built BTR-94 sits atop a flatbed truck awaiting transportation to Iraq, circa August 2004. Several hundred light armor vehicles were donated to the Iraqi government by Jordan.

On February 2, 2004 the U.S government announced that Nour USA was awarded a $327,485,798 contract to procure equipment for both the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi National Guard; however, this contract was canceled in March 2004 when an internal Army investigation (initiated due to complaints from losing bidders) revealed that Army procurement officers in Iraq were violating procedures with sloppy contract language and incomplete paperwork.

T-55 of 1st Iraqi Mechanized Brigade conducting a route security patrol near Taji, Iraq.
Two New Iraqi Army BMP-1s at Coalition checkpoint in Tarmiya, Iraq, 25 June 2006.
New Iraqi Army BMP-1 on the move.

On May 25, 2004 the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) stated that they would award a contract worth $259,321,656 to ANHAM Joint Venture in exchange for procuring the necessary equipment (and providing its required training) for a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 35 battalions. The minimum bid would begin to be delivered immediately and further orders could be placed until the maximum of 35 battalion sets or September 2006 after the first order was fully delivered.

In May 2005, Hungary agreed to donate 77 T-72's to the Iraqi Army, with the refurbishment contract going to Defense Solutions to bring the tanks up to operational status for an estimated 4.5 million dollars US.[28] After a delay in the payment of funds from the Iraqi government[29], Iraq's 9th Army Mechanized Division received the tanks at its headquarters in Taji over a three day period starting on November 8, 2005.[28]

On July 29, 2005, the United Arab Emirates gained approval to purchase 180 M113A1 APCs in good-condition from Switzerland, with the intent to transfer them to Iraq as a gift. Domestic political opposition successfully froze the sale, fearing that the export would violate the country's longstanding tradition of neutrality as well as perhaps make Switzerland a target for terrorism.[30]

173 M113s, 44 Panhards, and 100 Spartans donated by Jordan, Pakistan and UAE. 600 Dzik-3 (Ain Jaria) APCs were ordered in Poland (option 1200) for delivery by Jan 2007. 573 Akrep APCs for delivery by Jan 2007. 756 Cougar H APCs (option 1050) for delivery by November 2008.

713 M1114s and 400 M1151s purchased for IA with delivery complete by end July 2006.

Serbia has signed a US$230m deal with Iraq to sell weapons and military equipment, the defence ministry said in March 2008. It did not specify the weapons but Serbian military experts believe they include Serbian-made CZ-99 hand guns, Zastava M21 5.56 mm assault rifles, Zastava M84 machine guns, anti-tank weapons (M79 "Osa", Bumbar, and M90 "Strsljen"), ammunition and explosives and about 20 Lasta 95 basic trainer aircraft. Iraq's defence Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi visited Belgrade in September and November to discuss boosting military ties with Serbia.[31][32]

In August 2008, the United States has proposed military sales to Iraq, which will include the latest upgraded M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, attack helicopters, Stryker armored vehicles, modern radios, all to be valued at an estimated 2.16 billion dollars.[33]

In December 2008 the United States approved a 6 billion dollar arms deal with Iraq that included 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks and 400 Stryker combat vehicles for elite Iraqi army units.[34]

In January 2009 U.S. defense companies and Pentagon officials announced that the Iraqi Army is planning to buy up to 2,000 retrofitted Soviet-era T-72M tanks. Redesignated as T-91s, the tanks would form the heavy core of a reconstituted force meant to be able to defend its country after most U.S. forces leave in 2011. The tanks would be bought from Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia, and then stripped to their frames and rebuilt under a contract managed by Defense Solutions of Exton, Pa with advanced gun systems, modern armor, and fire control systems to levels almost similar to the M1A1 Abrams. This proposal has since been discredited by Pentagon sources.[35]

In February 2009 the US military announced it had struck deals with Iraq that will see Baghdad spend 5 billion dollars on American-made weapons, equipment and training.[36]

Uniforms and personal weapons

The average Iraqi soldier is equipped with an assortment of uniforms ranging from the Desert Camouflage Uniform, the 6 color "Chocolate Chip" DBDU and the woodland pattern BDU to the US MARPAT or Jordanian KA7. Nearly all have a PASGT ballistic helmet, generation I OTV ballistic vest and radios. Their light weapons consist of stocks of AKM and Type 56 assault rifles, and American M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines, the latter two to become the standard rifle. Old Soviet PKM machineguns are still used by machine/support gunners and AT soldiers use old and/or captured RPG-7s.

However weapons registration is poor. A 2006 report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) notes that out of the 370,000 weapons turned over to the US since the fall of Saddam's regime, only 12,000 serial numbers have been recorded[37]. The lack of proper accounting for these weapons makes the acquisition of small arms by anti governmental forces such as insurgents or sectarian militias much easier.

See also


  1. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named MilTech10; see Help:Cite error.
  2. ^ Al-Marashi, Ibrahim; Sammy Salama (2008). Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History. London and New York: Routledge. p. 206. ISBN 0-415-40078-3.  Al-Marashi and Salama note that the eighty-third anniversary of Iraqi Army Day was celebrated in 2004.
  3. ^ Iraqi Military Faces Hurdles in Its Quest to Take Charge - New York Times
  4. ^ MilTech World Defence Almanac 2008, Vol. XXXII, No.1, p.268, 269
  5. ^ a b Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq, August 2006
  6. ^ Pollack, 2002, p.611, note 33. 'Their doctrine remained overwhelmingly British and their execution uniquely Iraqi.'
  7. ^ House Armed Services Committee, "THE CONTINUING CHALLENGE OF BUILDING THE IRAQI SECURITY FORCES,", 27 June 2007, note 53, page 120.
  8. ^ "New Iraqi Army (NIA)"
  9. ^ Microsoft Word - OOBpage13-TOE.rtf, Long War Journal
  10. ^ Microsoft Word - Final Signed Version 070912.doc
  11. ^ Microsoft Word - OOBpage7-IGFC-B.rtf
  12. ^ This Week in Iraq - MNF-I Newsletter, June 26, 2006
  13. ^ Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle (OOB)
  14. ^ Long War Journal, Microsoft Word - OOBpage5-IGFC-M.rtf
  15. ^ IGFC Kirkuk/Baqubah Sector - Long War Journal
  16. ^ Daily story on MNF-I Webpage, August 9, 2006
  17. ^ "The Advisor, MNSTC-I Newsletter, July 8, 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2006-11-12. 
  18. ^ On February 23, 2007, the 10th division, at that time based in Basrah, was certified and operational responsibility transferred to the IGFC. However, since that time, the 14th Division has been formed in Basrah and the 10th Division transferred north to An Nasiriyah.MNF-I Press Release: Basrah IA division transfers to Iraqi command. February 23, 2007
  19. ^ Page 9: IGFC Basrah Sector - Long War Journal
  20. ^ "7th Iraqi Army Division now Controlled by Iraqi Government", MNF-I Press Release November 03 2007
  21. ^ Training the Iraqi Army - Revisited, Again - The Long War Journal
  22. ^ Jeremy M. Sharp and Christopher M. Blanchard - Post-War Iraq:Foreign Contributions to Training, Peacekeeping, and Reconstruction - Congressional Research Service
  23. ^ DJ Elliott and CJ Radin - Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle - Long War Journal
  24. ^ a b Iraq - Post-Saddam Governance and Security, CRS Report for Congress, p.41
  25. ^ U.S. Department of Defense, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq (March 2007), p. 23, p. 25
  26. ^ Andrew F. Krepinevich - Send in the Advisers - Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA)
  27. ^, First Vietnamese-American to Serve as a Military Advisor to the New Iraqi Army, 2006
  28. ^ a b Iraq Receives T-72s & BMPs - With Another Armored Brigade Planned - Defense Industry Daily
  29. ^ Iraq's T-72s: Payment Received
  30. ^ Defense News (dead)
  31. ^ Serbia signs Iraq arms deal -
  32. ^ Serbia seals multimillion arms deal with Iraq - International Herald Tribune
  33. ^ Foss, Christopher (2008-08-12). "Iraq orders Abrams tanks through US FMS programme". Jane's. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Reports to Congress - Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction


  • Al-Marashi, Ibrahim; Salama, Sammy (2008). Iraq's armed forces: An analytical history. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp. 254. ISBN 0-415-40078-3. 
  • Lyman, Robert (2006). Iraq 1941: The Battles for Basra, Habbaniya, Fallujah and Baghdad. Campaign. Oxford, New York: Osprey Publishing. pp. 96. ISBN 10: 1-84176-991-6. 
  • Kenneth M. Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948-91, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2002, and Pollack's book reviewed in International Security, Vol. 28, No.2.

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