Iraq's Military Forces
The Iraqi military is composed of three main bodies: the regular
army, the “Republican Guard” and the “Special Republican
The regular army is made up of five army corps and the
“Republican Guard” comprises two. The armed forces comprise 23
divisions, of which 17 are of the regular army (3 armored, 2
mechanized, and 11 infantry) and six are the Republican Guard (3
armored, 1 mechanized and 2 infantry).
On the eve of the Gulf War, the Iraqi army comprised 65 divisions
(most infantry), some of which were disbanded gradually after the war.
The Iraqi Army
The regular Iraqi Army comprises approximately 400,000 officers and
- Tanks: approx. 2500 – 2300.
including T-54/5, T-59/69 made in China, T-62 400, T-72.
- Recon. Armored vehicles: approx. 1500.
including BRDM-2, AML-60/90, EE-3 JARARCA, EE-9 CASCAVEL.
- Combat APCs: 900 BMP-1/2
- APCs: 2000.
including BTR-60, MTLB, YW-531, A1/A2, M-113, PANHARD M-3, E-11
- Artillery: approx. 2000 – 2100 towed and
self-propelled guns and howitzers (mostly towed).
- Towed artillery – 105 mm: M-56, 122 mm: D-1230,
M-1938, 130 mm: TYPE 59-1, M-46, 155 mm: M-144, GHN-45 G-5
- Self-propelled artillery: 122 mm: 2SI, 152 mm: 2S3,
155 mm: AUF-1, M-109 (GCT)
- Anti-tank rocket launcher: 250.
including 107 mm, 122 mm: BM-21, 127 mm: ASTROS-2, 132 mm:
BM-13/16, 262 mm: ABABEEL.
- Mortars: 81 mm, 120 mm, 160 mm, and 240 mm.
- Anti-tank guided weapons: AT-3 SAGGER (including
BRDM-2), report of AT-4, SS-11, MILAN, HOT.
- Anti-tank guided gun: 85 mm, 100 mm (towed).
The Iraqi Air Force
30,000 soldiers (including 15,000 in the Air Defense Forces)
Order of air battle:
- Ground attack combat aircraft: approx. 130. Including
MiG-23EN, Mirage F-1, Su-20, Su-21, Su-25.
- Combat aircraft: approx. 180. Including F-7, MiG-21,
MiG-23, Mirage F-1, MiG-29.
- Recon. Aircraft: including MiG-25.
- Transport aircraft (tankers): including two IL-76,
AN-24, AN-26, AN-2.
- Light aircraft: including EMB-312, AS-202, approx.
fifty L-39s, approx. 25 PC-7s, thirty PC-9s.
- Helicopters: approx. 350 (80 armed). Approx. eighty
BO-105, Mi-24, sa-316 with SA-321 As-12 (some armed with EXOCET
- Transport helicopters: approx. 270 including – heavy:
Mi-6, medium: SA-61, BELL 214 ST, Mi-4, Mi-17, Mi-8, SA-330.
Light: AB-212 (SAR), BK-117, HUGHES-300C, HUGHES-500D,
- Air-to-Ground: AS-30L, AS-12, AS-9, AS-11, AS-4,
- Air-to-Air: AA-2/6/7/8/10, R-530, R-550.
- Anti-Aircraft guns: approx. 5,000. Including 23 mm
self-propelled Z50-23-4. 37 mm double-barrel M-1939. 57 mm:
self-propelled ZSU-57-2. 85 mm, 100 mm, 130 mm.
- Ground-to-Air missiles: ROLAND,
The Iraqi Navy
Bases: Basra (limited installations), El Zabir, Umm Qasr
Order of Battle:
- A frigate used for training with two anti-tank torpedo
- A soviet missile boat (OSA-I) with four SS-N-2A STYX.
- Coastal patrol vessels: 7, one soviet BOGOMOL, 6 patrol speed
- Anti-mine vessels: 4; two Soviet YEVGENYA and two Yugoslav
NETSINs. One yacht with a landing pad for helicopters.
Additional Iraqi Forces
- Border Patrol forces are operationally subordinate to the
regular army (and administratively to the Ministry of Interior)
including the Border Patrol brigades.
- The Special Republican Guard is responsible for internal
defense. It is not directly under the command of the regular army.
It carries out military operations and activities. This body, part
of the inner circle, is considered the most trusted body in the
regime. It is responsible for protecting the president and his
family as well as VIPs, institutions and installations in Baghdad
and its environs. It comprises 15 battalions.
- As part of the Iraqi perception that it is necessary to base
power in a number of concentrated centers, the Iraqi regime also
involves other security forces, for example the “Fadai Saddam”
operating in the central mountains of Iraq. The regime monitors
and controls the general security; at least in southern Iraq
against the opposition (Shi'ites). In time of emergency, Iraqi
authorities are likely to recruit hundreds of thousands of
civilians in the framework of the “The People’s Army” as
occurred in the February 1998 against the U.S.
Operational Capabilities of Iraqi Army
A number of sources negatively influence current capabilities of
the Iraqi Army. To our assessment, these include first and foremost,
the embargo placed on Iraq and the inability to purchase principal
weapons systems, spare parts and military equipment. This is in
addition to the attrition caused by ongoing, general security
activities against opposition (Shiites in the South and Kurds in the
North), and harsh service conditions, especially in the regular army,
which cause a lack of personnel in the units. These factors weaken the
Iraqi Armed Forces’ capabilities. The most adversely affected body
to our assessment is the regular army, given its low priority in
regard to procurements.
In the last few years, the Iraqi Army has conducted a series of
operations designed to rehabilitate the weapons systems known as the
Nadaa El-Kaid (“Commander’s Call”) in order to prevent the
deterioration of the army’s operational capabilities. The Iraqi Army
has conducted at least seven such operations, (the last of which,
called Nadaa El-Kaid 7 was completed in March 98). The rehabilitation
program was conducted with the coordination of all the armed forces
and included varied equipment: artillery pieces, tanks, APCs, armored
vehicles, machine guns, air and naval weapons systems, “soft”
vehicles (light vehicles, buses and trucks, including tank movers),
radar, communications equipment, and other military equipment. To our
assessment, the Inadaa El-Kaid rehabilitation operations are
principally “cosmetic” and their contribution to the operational
fitness of the Iraqi Army is not particularly high, due to the lack of
spare parts in the Army’s storage houses.
A short movie clip:
taken from the
Iraqi television, this movie shows military activity and parades.
The hymn praises the "Army of Jerusalem" designated to
T59 tank (China)
T62 tank (USSR)
MTLB armored personnel carrier
MIg-23 fighter (USSR)