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US Forces Order of Battle - 20 January

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 57,000 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 3rd Brigade has redeployed and much 1st Brigade is on its way. It is believed that the total Army presence in the region is nearly 15,000 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 overall 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 mid-to-late December 2002 there was one carrier battle group in the area, and one amphibious group, for a total of around 14,000 naval personnel. These units included about 128 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. A total of about 507 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 200 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.

Recent Developments


  • It is believed that most if not all of 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division has arrived in Kuwait.
  • elements of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division continue to deploy to the region though media coverage of its deployment have not been as informative as reports regarding 3rd Brigade.
  • The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division has received orders to deploy to Southwest Asia.
  • Elements of the 18th Airborne Corps have received orders to deploy to Southwest Asia. These units include elemeents of the Corps Artillery, the 35th Signal Brigade, and elements of the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade. Other units include the elements of the 1st Corps Support Command, 44th Medical Command, XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery, 18th Aviation Brigade, 101st Chemical Company, and 18th Soldier Support Group.
  • The 167th Engineer Company was activated on Jan 13, 2003. The unit is an element of the Alabama National Guard. It specializes in Assault Ribbon Bridges, which will be needed for crossing bodies of water in Iraq. The date that the unit will deploy is not clear, nor has it been released where the unit is headed to.


  • On January 17, 9 "Cape" Roll-on/Roll-off sealift ships were activated and ordered to be operational no later than Jan 22. These ships, the Cape Race and Cape Rise located in Portsmouth, VA, the Cape Decision and Cape Diamond located in Charleston, S.C., and the Cape Taylor, Cape Texas, Cape Trinity, Cape Victory and Cape Vincent located in Beaumont and Houston, Texas would be loaded and underway with roughly a full divisions worth of heavy equipment no later than January 28. A transit from the United States to the Persian Gulf would take roughly 18-21 days allowing them to arrive in Kuwait on or around February 18. Assuming that it would take roughly 2-4 days to unload and transport the equipment from port to the Kabals, where it would marry up with troops, the US should have nearly all of the heavy equipment in place by February 22.
  • The USS Iwo Jima is believed to have received orders to deploy earlier then her scheduled February-March timeframe. Documentation from the Navy indicates that she is currently operating off the East Coast.
  • Four more amphibious ships have received orders to deploy. The include the USS Batann, Kearsarge, Ashland and Portland. These ships departed for North Carolina and pick up the remainder of the 2nd MEB. They are all currently at sea with the Saipan and Amphibious Task Force East enroute to the Persian Gulf region.
  • A seven ship task force centered around the USS Boxer and Bonhomme Richard have also received orders to deploy and departed on January 17. The ships are carrying elements of I Marine Expeditionary Force. The USS Pearl Harbor is also in the task force.
  • The USS Abraham Lincoln remains in Australia conducting exercises off its coast.

Marine Corps

  • On January 17 the 1st Radio Battalion began to deploy to Southwest Asia.

Air Force

  • 28 airmen of the 103rd Fighter Wing departed for Southwest Asia on January 17. Elements of the 104th Fighter Wing deployed as well.

Coalition Forces

  • The HMS Ark Royal and her task force departed the United Kingdom on January 11.

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