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US Forces Order of Battle - 17 March

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 211,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including about 1,100 aircraft of all types. Based on the number of Brigade Sets that were prepositioned in the region it is believed that there are roughly 850 M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and 406 M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. 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 64,000 soldiers. Army equopment figures are based on standard Tables of Organization and Equipment for the units deployed. The number of Army mechanized equipment actually on the ground (rather than on ship) is thought to be roughly 638 M1 Abrams and 406 M2 Bradleys. This figure is based on the available prepositioned Brigade sets that were in the region including equipment at Diego Garcia. It is not clear how much additional equipment has been shipped to the region from the United States though it there is enough kit for 2 mechanized divisions minus the equipment for the 4th Infantry Division. This means that the United States could have more tanks than people to man them. There are 144 AH-64 Apache helicopters in the region.

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 23,000 Air Force personnel may be currently stationed in the CENTCOM and EUCOM areas responsible for operations against Iraq, operating a total of about 500 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 Battle Group, 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 25 February 2003 there were five carrier battle groups in the area, two amphibious task forces, and two amphibious groups, for a total of around 125,000 naval personnel. These units included about 504 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 2,142 Vertical Launch System cells are available for Tomahawk cruise missiles, which is roughly three times the average number typically deployed in recent years. Based on estimates of prior deployments, perhaps as many as 1,000 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


  • The USNS Tililaau transited the Suez Canal on March 12, 2003 according to the Agence France Presse on the same day. It is unclear what kind of military equipment is onboard the ship. It is thought however that this ship is really the USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) as there is no other ship that fits that description.
  • Two cargo vessels, the Therberland and the Rosa Dhelmas loaded equipment belonging to the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Livorno, Italy on March 11. The equipment loaded consisted of HMMWVs and othe rlight equipment.
  • According to the Associated Press on March 11 the number of ships carrying the 101st Airborne Division's equipment is eight rather than the six previously reported. It is not clear if this report is accurate.
  • USNS Yano transited through the Suez on March 9 headed towards the Persian Gulf, according to Agence France Presse on March 9. AFP also claimed that two civilian ships chartered by the US Navy to carry military equipment also transited the Suez.
  • Despite reports from claiming that armor and other equipment from the 4th Infantry Division has begun to be offloaded in Turkey and loaded on railcars and transported to the east, there is no evidence to support such a claim and are considered to be without foundation. Rather, subsequent intelligence from both US and Turkish media indicate that the elements being offloaded consist of logistics equipment that came from Germany rather than the United States (Belgian-flagged ships). While it is possible that this equipment belongs to the 1st Infantry Division or even the 1st Armored Division, none of the articles found indicate anything other than units who are making preperations for Task Force Ironhorse to arrive.


  • Stars & Stripes reported on March 14 that the deployment of the 1st Armored Division has been postponed indefinitely. Stars & Stripes indicated that the reasons for the delay were due to lack of transportation.
  • The 51st Maintenance Battalion is currently in Turkey making preperations for the arrival of the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions according to Stars & Stripes.
  • The 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment is currently in Turkey according to Stars & Stripes on March 14. Also in Turkey is an element of the 701st Main Support Battalion and the 121st Signal Battalion. All of these units are part of the 1st Infantry Division.
  • The 2-43rd Air Defense Artillery is in Kuwait according to the Associated Press on March 14.
  • A V Corps press release indicates that elements of the 440th Signal Battalion are present in Kuwait. The unit in question is the 578th Signal Company. It is not clear if other elements of the 440th are in the region.
  • Additional evidence that US soldiers are present in Mardin, Turkey was described by the Baltimore Sun on March 13. The article indicates that hundreds of trucks loaded with equipment are at a factory warehouse. There is still no evidence of any tanks or other combat vehicles are present.
  • The 68th Corps Support Battalion is present in Kuwait according to Knight Ridder on March 13, 2003.
  • The 32nd Signal Battalion is currently in Kuwait according to Knight Ridder on March 13, 2003.
  • Roughly 500 soldiers have departed from Fort Drum for Kuwait in recent weeks according to USA Today on March 13, 2003. These soldiers are believed to be in addition to the 4-31st Regiment which is still in the process of deploying.
  • According to the Associated Press on March 7, roughly 300 hundred soldiers from the 1-179th Infantry Regiment are currently in Kuwait. (One arrives at the number of three hundred based on the number of boxes of cookies sent to the region. It is possible that the number is smaller, say by half). An alert visitor of the site has brought to our attention that the 1-179th Infantry is not listed on the DoD release that details which National Guard and Reserve units that are on active duty, but that rather the 1-180th Infantry is on the list and is currently serving in the Sinai. While it is true that the 1-179th is not on the list various articles do indicate that it specifically is in Kuwait. Further research is being conducted. It should be kept in mind however that is not unlikely that there are more units activated then what are listed on the DoDs document.
  • The 28th Combat Support Hospital departed North Carolina for Southwest Asia on March 11.
  • The 181st Transportation Battalion recently departed Germany for Kuwait.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on March 11 that Army soldiers have been identified as setting up logistics bases in eastern Turkey. Mardin was specifically cited as a key location.
  • The Miami Herald reported on March 11 that hundreds of soldiers from the Florida National Guard are currently in Jordan providing force protection for Patriot batteries. While it is not clear which unit is located in Jordan, three infantry battalions from Florida have been activated and deployed.
  • Elements of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment began leaving for Kuwait on March 9 according to the Independent.
  • The 30th Enhance Separate Brigade has been put on alert for a possible deployment according to a local Raleigh, NC news story.


  • On March 15 eight more ships transited the Suez Canal headed for the Red Sea. The ships included the USS San Jacinto, Donald Cook, Grapple, Bolster, and USNS Kanawa. The attack submarines USS Providence, Newport News and Augusta also transited.
  • On March 14, 2003 two destroyers and three submarines transited the Suez Canal on March 14 according to Agence France Presse. The USS Arleigh Burke, Deyo, Boise, Toledo, and San Juan all transited the Suez.
  • The USS Firebolt and the rest of the patrol boats that deployed to the Persian Gulf are currently in Kuwait.
  • The USS Nimitz and her Battle Group arrived at Pearl Harbor on March 11 and is due to remain in port until March 14 or 15. This would significantly delay the date for which she would arrive in the Persian Gulf region.
  • Nearly 300 more sailors will be departing Portsmouth for the Persian Gulf, according to the Virginian-Pilot on March 12. The bulk of the sailors are medical personnel from Portsmouth Naval Medical Center though 25 are Seabees from Construction Battalion Units 414 and 415 (which are not NMCBs as the Pilot article implies)
  • Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 departed for the Middle East on March 8 according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on March 9. 200 total sailors deployed on March 8 with an additional 200 to deploy at a later date.
  • Stars & Stripes reports on March 5 that six attack submarines are present in the NAVEUR operating area.

Marine Corps

  • The 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment has been ordered to deploy to Southwest Asia according to the New York Daily News on March 13.
  • According to the Dallas Morning News the 2nd Tank Battalion is in Kuwait at Camp Grizzly.
  • Additional elements of the 4th Force Service Support Group are in Kuwait according to the Allentown Morning Call on March 10, 2003.
  • Marines from the 1st Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment have been ordered to deploy to Southwest Asia according to the Associated Press on March 11, 2003.
  • According to the San Francisco Chronicle on March 8 the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines are currently in Kuwait.
  • According to Newsday on March 7 the 6th Communications Battalion is also present with I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Air Force

  • According to an Air Force Print News story on March 14, the population at Incirlick Air Base has has increased by roughly 70% in recent months bringing the total to well over 7,000 people.
  • Support personnel from the 509th Bomb Wing have begun to depart Whiteman Air Force Base according tot he Kansas City Star on March 11 and Fox News on March 12. The KC Star indicates that some 200 airmen have departed for "parts unknown."
  • The 336th Fighter Squadron has been confirmed to have deployed according to Knight Ridder on March 12. While the article did not disclose its location, there is a strong probability that the unit is at Al Udeid as there has been prior evidence that aircraft from the 4th Operations Group were located at that facility.
  • There are 200 airmen from the 103rd Fighter Wing currently deployed according to the Associated Press on March 12.
  • The 401st Air Expeditionary Wing is believed to be operating from Souda Bay, Crete.
  • The 409th Air Expeditionary Group is operating in Bourgas Bulgaria at a location named Sarafovo.
  • An unidentified unit, likely the 410th AEW is operating from Constanta, Romania.
  • The 457th Air Expeditionary Group is the US command element at RAF Fairford. 400 additional airmen have been deployed to the air base.
  • The Myrtle Beach Sun-News reported on March 11 that the element of the 169th Fighter Wing which is currently deployed (the 157th Fighter Squadron) has 15 F-16s deployed.
  • 10 F-15s from the 33rd Fighter Wing arrived in the region on or about the 8th of March.
  • Roughly 100 airmen from the 103rd Fighter Wing are currently deployed to Southwest Asia according to the Associated Press on March 10.
  • The 139th Airlift Wing deployed for Southwest Asia on March 9.
  • An unknown number of aircraft and pilots from the 127th Wing returned to the United States in late January according to the Times Herald on February 26.
  • Roughly 500 airmen from the 58th Fighter Squadron are currently in Southwest Asia. They departed in late February according to the Associated Press on February 27.
  • 300 airmen from the 23rd Fighter Group departed on March 4 according to Fayetteville Observer on March 5, 2003. The 75th Fighter Squadron is thought to have been deployed.
  • The 401st Air Expeditionary Wing is located at a base in the Mediterranean region, most likely in Romania or Bulgaria. Elements of the 319th Air Refueling Wing are operating at the location.
  • According to an Air Force photo caption, aircraft from the 113th Fighter Squadron are currently based in Incirlik, Turkey.
  • 50 airmen on two aircraft departed for Southwest Asia on March 5 according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 6, 2003. The airmen belong to the 314th Airlift Wing.

Coast Guard

  • All of the 110' Island Class patrol boats are believed to be in the Persian Gulf according to Coast Guard photographs.

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