US Forces Order of Battle - 16 December
This is a "best available" order-of-battle of forces deployed in CENTCOM's part of Southwest Asia, as well as EUCOM forces in Turkey participating in Operation Northern Watch. Even prior to September 11, 2001, the amount of publicly available information concerning aircraft types and specific units has diminished to the point that it is no longer possible to provide a high fidelity profile of current deployments. There are evidently significant gaps in unit identifications, as well as non-trivial uncertainties as to numbers of specific types of aircraft. The presence of significant numbers of civilian contractor personnel at various facilities in the region further complicates accounting for total personnel numbers.
Excluding forces deployed in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom, there are probably about 50,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including about 400 aircraft of all types. The number of troops deployed in the area fluctuates on a daily basis, and has averaged between 20,000 and 25,000 in recent years, with typically about 200 aircraft in the region. Forces in the region include a mix of special operations forces deployed in support of US Central Command operations. To enhance force protection throughout the region, additional military security personnel are also deployed.
Ground forces include a variety of units that are normally deployed in the region, which total about 3,700 troops. Forces in the region include a Patriot missile task force with two batteries deployed in Saudi Arabia and two in Kuwait. The Army Intrinsic Action / Desert Spring training exercises routinely deploy 1,500 to 5,000 troops for rotations of several months. As of early-December 2002 a brigade rotation was virtually complete. Nearly all of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division had returned to the United States, though comments made by 3rd Division officials to the press have made it clear that the 3rd BDE could redeploy to the region if so ordered. It is believed that the total Army presence in the region is nearly 10,000 soldiers.
The US Air Force's Expeditionary Air and Space Force (EAF) concept and organization sets a guideline for Air Force deployments to operational locations. The EAF is comprised of 10 Aerospace Expeditionary Forces (AEF) each with lead combat and support wings including on-call wings that could be deployed if required. Deployments for active duty units lasts roughly 90-days while Reserve and Guard units deploy typically for 30 - 60 days. Generally one AEF is assigned to Operation Southern Watch and one is assigned to Northern Watch. AEF 7 and AEF 8 units deployed beginning in late November and will remain until the end of February 2003.
The EUCOM Area of Responsibility includes approximately 1,700 Air Force personnel at Incrilik AB Turkey, flying Operation Northern Watch patrols (Though there are roughly 4,000 people at Incirlik in general). Prior to Operation Enduring Freedom, approximately 6,200 Air Force personnel were normally stationed in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility. As many as 17,500 Air Force personnel may be currently stationed in the CENTCOM and EUCOM areas responsible for operations against Iraq, operating a total of about 280 aircraft of all types.
Naval units include a headquarters and shore-based units comprised of about 1,200 people at Manama in Bahrain. Nearly a thousand civilian mariners are associated with Military Sealift Command ships at Diego Garcia. During the 1990s overal Naval force personnel levels in the CENTCOM AOR typically varied between 8,000 and 15,000. Each Carrier Battlegroup, with its associated Carrier Air Wing, has approximately 11,000 sailors embarked. Each Amphibious Group has about 1,700 sailors, 1,500 Marines, and 700 Marine aviators embarked. As of late-November 2002 there was one carrier battle group in the area, and one amphibious group, for a total of around 20,000 naval personnel. These units included about 128 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. A total of about 400 Vertical Launch System cells are available for Tomahawk cruise missiles, which is roughly twice the average number typically deployed in recent years. Based on estimates of prior deployments, perhaps as many as 150 Tomahawks are actually deployed. The cruise missile force can be augmented significantly within days.
Currently, there are about 370 combatant and direct support aircraft in the Iraq [CENTCOM and EUCOM] Area of Responsibility, which total includes air to air, air to ground, dual role, direct support, and attack helicopters.
Note: While this listing is dated, one should keep in mind that the page is often edited numerous times during a particular edition, sometimes daily. One should visit the page often to get the most up-to-date listing of affairs.
A significant portion of the equipment afloat at Diego Garcia appears to still be at anchor. Ikonos Browse imagery taken in early and mid-November 2002 confirm that a portion of those ships have not departed for the Persian Gulf region to offload their equipment. Contrary to a recent Reuters article citing this organization as stating that all of the preposition ships are still at Diego Garcia, or estimation is that there is a significant number of ships present, but that without complete coverage of all of the anchorages, and with reports such as the one listed below it is not accurate to say that all of the Prepo is still present.
The New York Times reported on December 8, 2002 that one of the brigade sets at Diego Garcia has begun to be moved to Kuwait to be unloaded. According to the story, the USNS Watkins had unloaded material in Kuwait in July and that the USNS Watson was currently enroute.
According to American Spaceframe Fabricators, the contractor that designed and constructed the B-2 Shelter System, and subsequently confirmed by satellite imagery acquired by ImageSat on November 26, 2002, two shelters have been constructed at Diego Garcia but two additional structures will not be completed until June 2003. Because of this development, an element of the 509th Bomb Wing has been added to the list of units present at Diego Garcia.
There have been some significant changes to the listings of Air Force units deployed to CENTCOM locations, as AEF 7 took over operational duties on December 1. As force size at these individual bases do not change often it is safe to assume that the same number and types of aircraft are still located at particular locations though it is not clear what units are there. Units from AEF 8 are at Incirlik and have been added to the list.
On December 9, 2002 the USS George Washington and her battle group was in the Atlantic cruising for home. It is scheduled to arrive in Norfolk on December 20, 2002. This is a major development as there has been speculation for some time that the George Washington may remain in the Med for an extended period of time. Press reports in recent days seem to indicate that the George Washington will not standdown following its arrival in Norfolk, but will be available for redeployment up to two weeks.
The USS Constellation and her battle group transited the Malacca Straits on or about December 7 following a departure from Singapore. She is currently in the Indian Ocean steaming for the Persian Gulf region which she could reach by December 14, 2002.
The Kitty Hawk Battle Group returned to its port at Yokosuka on December 13, 2002. This would remove her as a potential participant in a war against Iraq for at least 3 weeks.
The USS Mount Whitney transited the Suez Canal on December 8, 2002 and should be nearing Djibouti if it has not already arrived. The USS Mount Whitney was last reported to be at the port of Said in Egypt on December 7, 2002. Since she and 2nd MARDIV are in the CENTCOM AOR they have been added to the listing.
Relatedly, the 87th Corps Support BN has been identified as being located at Djibouti, assisting in the renovation of Camp Le Monier though the unit is believed to be leaving Djibouti soon and handing over command to 2nd Marine Division.
It is believed that the 335th Fighter Squadron is no longer at Prince Sultan Air Base and that its rotation has been completed for some time. However, the 44th Fighter Squadron has been identified as being deployed to Prince Sultan. Their rotation had ended recently.
The 19th Support Center, from Wiesbaden, Germany has been identified as being located in Kuwait. An article in the Agence France Press from December 11 indicates that the unit deployed some time ago and that elements of it will be returning to Germany in mid December. The unit is believed to be supporting the two Apache Squadrons that deployed to Kuwait from Germany.
|Land Based Aircraft|
|Incirlik AB - Turkey|
|39th Air and Space Expeditionary Wing||~ 60||4,000|
|55th Fighter Sq (AEF 8)||6 - F-16CJ|
|4th Fighter Sq||6- F-16CJ|
|175th Fighter Sq (AEF 8)||? 6 - F-16CD|
|94th Fighter Sq (AEF 8)||? 6 - F-15C|
|U/I Unit||? 6 - F-15E|
|U/I Unit||? 3 - MC-130|
|U/I Unit||? 3 - HH-60G|
|U/I Unit||? 3 - UH-60|
|900th Exp Air Refueling Sq||? 12 - KC-135|
|970th Air Control Sq||? 3 - E-3A|
|VAQ 209||? 2 - EA-6B|
|VAQ 133||? 2 - EA-6B|
|No. 41 Squadron [UK RAF]||6 - Jaguar|
|No. 10 Squadron [UK RAF]||? - VC10 C1K|
|Land Based Aircraft|
|Saudi Arabia - Eskan Village||1,500|
|9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force|
|Saudi Arabia - Prince Sultan Air Base [PSAB]||72||4,500|
|363rd Air Expeditionary Wing|
|67th Fighter Squadron (AEF 7)||18 - F-15|
|390th Fighter Squadron (AEF 7)||? - F-15|
|524th Fighter Sq (AEF 7)||18 - F-16|
|U/I Fighter Squadron||6 - F-16|
|363 Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Sq||6 - E-3 AWACS|
|U/I Air Control Sq||2 - E-8 JSTARS|
|38th Reconnaissance Sq (AEF 7)||4 - RC-135|
|92nd Air Refueling Sq (AEF 7)||12 - KC-135|
|U/I Airlift Sq|
|99th Reconnaissance Sq (AEF 7)||2 - U-2|
|detachment, VMAQ 1||?3 - EA-6B|
|U/I MEDEVAC Company||6 - UH-60|
|No. 43 Squadron [UK RAF]||4 - Tornado F3|
|40th Air Expeditionary Wing||? 20||? 1,000|
|U/I element of 509th Bomb Wing||? 2 - B-2|
|40th Bomb Squadron||? - B-52|
|20th Bomb Squadron (AEF 7)||? 8 - B-52|
|462nd Air Expeditionary Group||? 12 - KC-135R|
|Bahrain - Muharraq Airfield|
|VP-1 Screaming Eagles||? - P-3||? 50|
|No. 216 Squadron [UK RAF]||1 - L-1011 Tristar||? 50|
|Det. VQ-1 World Watchers||? - EP-3E ARIES II|
|Det. Two HC-2 Fleet Angels||? - UH-3H|
? - VH-3A
|Det. One HC-4 Black Stallions||? - MH-53E|
|Kuwait - Ali Al Salem Air Base|
|386th Air Expeditionary Group||1,500|
|41st Electronic Combat Sq (AEF 7)||? - EC-130H|
|71st Rescue Squadron||2 - HC-130P|
|No. 12 Squadron [UK RAF]||6 - Tornado GR4|
|15th Exp Recon Sq||? - RQ-1B|
|Kuwait - Al Jaber Air Base||77||1,200|
|332nd Air Expeditionary Group|
|332nd Expd Air Sprt Ops Sqdn|
|332nd Expd Intel Flt|
|172nd Fighter Sq (AEF 7)||12 - A-10|
|U/I Fighter Squadron||18 - F-15C|
|391st Fighter Squadron||10 - F-15E|
|510th Fighter Squadron||?8 - F-16CG/DG|
|VMFA 212 Lancers||12 - F/A-18|
|U/I Airlift Squadron||8 - C-130|
|332nd Expd Rescue Sqdn||2 - HH-60G|
|U/I element, 552nd Air Control Wing||7 - E-3 AWACS|
|Oman - Masirah Air Base||14||1,300|
|319th Air Expeditionary Group|
|U/I Unit||? 6 - KC-135R|
|U/I element, 911th Airlift Wing||? 8 - C-130|
|4th Special Operations Squadron||? 6 - AC-130U|
|8th Special Operations Squadron||? - MC-130E|
|Oman - Seeb International Airport||14||1,300|
|320th Air Expeditionary Wing||?|
|U/I Fighter Squadron||? -|
|189th Airlift Sq (AEF 7)||? - C-130|
|Oman - Thumrait Air Base|
|405th Air Expeditionary Wing||? 10||? 1,000|
|405th Expeditionary Bomb Sq [Composite]||? - B-1B|
|U/I element, 28th Bomb Wing||? - B-1B|
|U/I Unit||? - E-3|
|U/I element, 55th Wing||? - RC-135|
|No. 201 Squadron||? - Nimrod MR2|
|No. 206 Squadron||? - Nimrod MR2|
|Qatar - Al Udeid Air Base||12||3,500|
|379th Air Expeditionary Wing|
|U/I unit||? - F-15|
|44th Expeditionary Air Refueling Sqdn||? 4 - KC-10|
|340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Sqdn||? 2 - KC-135R|
|911th Air Refueling Sqdn||~ 2 - KC-135R|
|U/I Unit, 434th Refueling Wing||? 2 - KC-135R|
|U/I element, 93rd Air Control Wing||? 2 - E-8 JSTARS|
|detachment, VMAQ 1||?3 - EA-6B|
|UAE - AL Dhafra Air Base|
|380th Air Expeditionary Wing||7||? 500|
|U/I element, 9th Reconnaissance Wing||? 2 - U-2|
|12th Recon Sqdn, 9th Recon Wing||? 1 - RQ-4|
|763 Expeditionary Air Refueling Sq||? 4 - KC-10|
|908 Expeditionary Air Refueling Sq||? 4 - KC-10|
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|