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US Forces Order of Battle - 03 February

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 had diminished to the point that it was 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 70,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including about 450 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. Virtually all of 3rd Infantry Division has been deployed to Kuwait, though it is possible that some battalions are still in the process of deploying. It is believed that the total Army presence in the region is nearly 25,000 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 20,000 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. It should be noted that tracking personnel numbers for the Air Force is extremely difficult as the actual number of pilots is small compared to support elements. These numbers could be drastically incorrect.

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 late January 2003 there were two carrier battle groups in the area, and one amphibious group, for a total of around 34,000 naval personnel. These units included about 245 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 1236 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 600 Tomahawks are actually deployed. The cruise missile force can be augmented significantly within days.

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 the situation.

Recent Developments


  • According to the Wilmington Star, the USNS Watson will pull into Wilmington, North Carolina to load additional equipment.
  • Cape Taylor departed Corpus Christi on January 28 and the Cape Texas departed on January 29.
  • Thirteen helicopters from the 82nd Medical Company Air Ambulance were loaded on to two ships at Beaumont recently.
  • The Maritime Administration announced on January 27 that it had activated 13 additional Ready Reserve Force ships on Friday January 24 to support Operation Enduring Freedom. This activation was in addition to 19 other ships that hava already been serving. These ships include the Cape Edmont, Cape Henry, Cape Horn, Cape Hudon, Cape Inscription, Cape Intrepid, Cape Isabel, Cape Island, Cape Orlando, Cape Ray, Cape Washington, Cape Wrath, and the Admiral Callaghan. Additional ships that have been activated recently, but have not been previously disclosed include the Cape Ducato, Cape Gibson, Cape John, and Cape Johnson.
  • The USNS Red Cloud arrived in Wilmington, NC on January 25. She is uploading equipment and is expected to depart Wilmington later in the week.
  • Southampton has been busy. The cargo vessels Anna Desgagnes and Germania, both having loaded equipment from the 7th Armoured Brigade and the 16th Air Assault Brigade, departed on January 23 prior to the arrival of the Astra Sea and Ulusoy 5 which were due to make port later that day. Additionally, the Dart 9 and Magdalena Green are also loading equipment.
  • The USNS Algol passed throught the Suez Canal on January 23 enroute to the Persian Gulf. According to the Agence France Presse on January 24.
  • The Military Sealift Command released on January 28 that the Cape Taylor, Cape Texas, and Cape Trinity remain in Corpus Christi uploading Army equipment.


  • Additional elements of the 377th Theater Support Command deployed in late January to the Middle East. Roughly 120 soldiers are involved in the deployment.
  • According to Stars & Stripes on January 29, 2003, 1,800 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division have been ordered to deploy to Turkey in support of an invasion of Iraq. Elements of the 1st Infantry include the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Division, the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion, the 121st Signal Battalion, the 701st Main Support Battalion and the 601st Aviation Support Battalion.
  • According to local news sources, elements of the 10th Mountain Division will begin to deploy to Southwest Asia shortly. The 59th Chemical Company, 95th Fire Fighting Detachment and the 520th Engineer Detachment, have received orders to deploy. The total number of soldiers to deploy is 100.
  • The Army's last MASH unit has been ordered to deploy to the CENTCOM AOR. The 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital should deploy by mid-February.
  • The 1st Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment, an Apache unit, was mobilized recently. They are currently at Fort Bragg completing pre-deployment training. This unit has been sent to the Gulf both during Desert Storm and in 1998.
  • 509 members of the 396th Combat Support Hospital were mobilized recently. It is unclear whether or not his unit will be sent to the Middle East but such a large call-up would seem to indicate that it will.
  • A report in the Capital Times, dated January 28 indicates that the 147th Command Aviation Battalion has been activated. Some 200 soldiers were called up from the unit. Additional units from the Wisconsin Army National Guard to be called up include the 107th Maintenance Company, the 82nd Medical Company, and the 1157th Transportation Company. Elements of the 32nd Infantry Brigade have also been called up though the unit is being tasked with homeland security duties.
  • News reports from the Associated Press on January 20, 2003 and additional stories on January 21 report that the military is creating a Task Force Ironhorse to be comprised of elements of the 4th Infantry Division [Mechanized] and units from Fort Sill, Fort Lewis, Fort Riley, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Polk, Fort Campbell, and Fort Bragg. The Task Force will number some 37,000 soldiers. Additional reports that have surfaced in the press indicate that the 4th Infantry Division will send its whole division, not just elements, and that portions of the 1st Cavalry Division have received orders to deploy as well. The 1st Cavalry Division units are as yet unknown, but an Apache squadron has been deployed as has a chemical company.
  • The 5th Engineer Battalion has been ordered to deploy to Southwest Asia as a part of Task Force Ironhorse.
  • The 937th Engineer Group, the 555th Engineer Group, and the 66th Medical Brigade have also been ordered to deploy to Southwest Asia as a part of Task Force Ironhorse.
  • 183 soldiers from the 1438th Engineer Company has also been ordered to deploy to Southwest Asia as a part of Task Force Ironhorse, this unit is a Ribbon Bridge unit.
  • It is now thought that the bulk of the 3rd Infantry Division has arrived in Kuwait. While it is possible that some portions of the unit have yet to transit, and that some equipment still needs to be sent, an article in the Coastal Courier on January 22 indicates that the entire division would be deployed by January 24. Various other local Georgia news sources seem to confirm this. WTOC 11, states that the entire division will be in the Middle East by the end of January.


  • The Nimitz Battle Group completed its JTFEX on January 29 and was present in San Diego on January 30. It is not clear when or if she will deploy to the Middle East.
  • The USS Harry S Truman and her Battle Group have been added to the list of forces currently in the Area of Operations. This change is made to reflect the announcement that Jordan has granted over-fly rights to US aircraft operating against Iraq. This coupled with similar permission from Turkey makes it more likely that the Truman will operate from the Med rather than transiting to the Red Sea or Persian Gulf.
  • The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported on January 25 that four additional minesweepers have been sent to the Persian Gulf, under their own power. The ships were the USS Scout, USS Sentry, USS Devastator and USS Chief.
  • Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, a mine-countermeasures helicopter squadron will begin to deploy to the Middle East on or about January 27.
  • Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 and Naval Construction Force Support Unit 2, currently in Port Hueneme, Calif., along with NMCB-133, currently in Gulfport, Miss., have received orders to deploy to the Arabian Gulf area. In addition, more Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303, based in San Diego, received deployment orders to augment members of their unit already in the region.
  • Elements of Amhibious Task Force - East reached the Straits of Gibraltar on or about January 28.
  • On January 27 the Navy released that Commander, Maritime Prepositioning Force had arrived in Kuwait accompanied by Amhibious Group 3, Naval Beach Group 1, Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from Naval Coastal Warfare Group 1 homeported in San Diego, and Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 from Little Creek, Va.
  • On January 20 the Abraham Lincoln departed Western Australia officially ending her visit there. It is believed that the ship and her Battle Group have begun to redeploy to the Persian Gulf. A spokesman with the Lincoln Battle Group confirmed this. It is thought that by January 24 that the Lincoln and her Battle Group have arrived in the CENTCOM AOR.
  • The Carl Vinson Battle Group is off the coast of Hawaii conducting training exercises. It is not exactly clear whether or not this is part of an effort to relieve the Kitty Hawk from duties in the waters off Japan or if this is just a standard training period. The Honolulu Star-Bulleting specifically states that this is an early deployment but no confirmation from the Navy has as yet been announced.
  • The USS Kitty Hawk and elements of her Battle Group departed Japan on January 23 after returning to Yokosuka on January 22. It is not clear where the Kitty Hawk was headed though some news reports indicated that she is remaining in the region monitoring events on the Korean Peninsula.
  • The USNS Comfort passed through the Suez Canal on January 23, 2003.

Marine Corps

  • A story in the Washington Post dated January 28 indicates that elements of the 7th Marine Regiment are currently in Kuwait as is the 1st Tank Battalion.

Air Force

  • According to the Associated Press on January 30, 2003 50 airmen from the 49th Fighter Wing departed on January 29 headed for Southwest Asia. An additionaly 250 airmen will be departing Holloman AFB by February 7. As of January 31 no F-117s have deployed to the Middle East.
  • 200 Indiana Air National Guard members are being sent to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch. The guardsmen are part of the 181st Fighter Wing. They will deploy on January 30.
  • The Air Force has announced that the elements of the 124th Wing currently deployed in Kuwait will remain in the region than returning to Idaho as scheduled. The unit, believed to be the 189th Airlift Squadron has been deployed since December and was on a 60 day rotation. It is thought that the unit is at Al Jaber, Kuwait.

Coast Guard

  • For the first time since the Vietnam War the United States Coast Guard is deploying Patrol Boats overseas in support of a possible war with Iraq. Eight "Island Class" 110' Patrol Boats are being deployed, they include the USCGC Aquidneck, Wrangell, Adak, Bainbridge Island, Baranof, Grande Isle, Knight Island, and Pea Island. These cutters will be crewed by roughly 400 guardsmen (and women). The ships will be sent via sealift. It is not clear when the deployments will begin.
  • Additionally, elements of Port Security Unit 305 and Port Security Unit 309 will be deployed to the Persian Gulf. Harbor Defence Command Unit 206 will also be deployed. This deployment will involve roughly 200 reservists.

Coalition Forces

  • The HMS Ark Royal and her task group is operating off of Cyprus.
  • The HMAS Kanimbla has deployed from Australia for the Persian Gulf on January 23. The Kanimbla will deploy with a Sea King helicopter, Army landing craft, an Army air defence detachment, and a specialist explosives ordnance disposal team.
  • Australia is also deploying a Special Forces Task Group which will include a Special Air Services squadron. It is not clear when this unit will deploy.
  • On January 27 the HMS Splendid and an unidentified frigate will be transiting through the Suez Canal headed for the Persian Gulf.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:28:11 Zulu