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US Forces Order of Battle - 21 April

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 250,000 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 88,000 soldiers. Army equipment 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 10 April 2003 there were five carrier strike groups in the area, two amphibious task forces, and two amphibious groups, for a total of around 136,000 naval personnel. These units included about 514 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 2,058 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 Defense Department confirmed on April 16 that the whole 4th Infantry Division is on the ground in Kuwait and the transit to the area has been completed.
  • Multiple sources confirm that the 1st Cavalry Division's orders to deploy to Southwest Asia have been cancelled.
  • The 1st Armored Division is on the move, headed for the Persian Gulf region to provide a stabilization force in Iraq. Reports indicate that the whole division, minus its Artillery, have begun surging towards the region according to the Washington Post.
  • Two battalions from the 75th Ranger Regiment have been confirmed as operating in Iraq. While it is known that the 1st and 3rd Battalions are in the region, it is believed that the rest of the Regiment are in country as well.
  • The northern front is being reinforces by over 300 soldiers and an unknown number of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. A Task Force centerred around the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment (an element of the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade) is being airlifted to the region and consists of some 300 soldiers. An element of the 10th Mountain Division, a field artillery battery has also been sent to the area. Both the Task Force and the 10th MTN unit will operate under the command of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
  • The Associated Press confirmed on April 8 that the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is currently in Kuwait awaiting additional soldiers and equipment to arrive. A report in the Denver Post on the same day indicates that nearly 1,300 soldiers from the unit and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division had departed on or about April 5 and that an additional 1,800 soldiers were to depart on April 7 and April 8.
  • Contrary to a report in the Orlando Sentinel on April 6, only 500 soldiers from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment are in Kuwait, or Iraq.


  • The USS Boise (SSN 764) has departed the area and will be returning to Hampton Roads on April 15.
  • As Operation Iraqi Freedom winds down carrier assets will be withdrawn from the area. While the Nimitz CVSG will remain in the area for another 4 months or so it is not clear which of the two carriers in the Med will be ordered back to Norfolk. The USS Harry S Truman has been deployed since early December and a scheduled MED deployment and is due to return to Norfolk in early June. The Theodore Roosevelt, though departing significantly ahead of schedule, is believed to be the carrier that would replace the Truman, though it is possible that the deployment cycle has been altered, and the next carrier in the cycle, the Enterprise, may be deployed in May as the Roosevelt would need an extended period for repairs. Provided that the Navy intends to keep more than one carrier deployed.
  • On April 14 the Associated Press reported that the Constellation Carrier Strike Group had been ordered to return to San Diego. The ship is nearing the end of its 6-month WESTPAC. It will take 30 days for the CVSG to return to San Diego. It is not clear when the ship will depart the Persian Gulf.
  • On April 14, European Stars and Stripes reported that the USS Kitty Hawk and elements of her Strike Group, the Cowpens and John S. McCain received orders on April 13 to return to Yokosuka. This report also confirmed that three vessels previously thought to be part of the Strike Group, the Chancellorsville, O'Brien, and Cushing did not in fact deploy with the CVSG.
  • The USS Portland returned to Norfolk on April 11 following nearly 3 month long deployment to the Persian Gulf as part of Amphibious Task Force - East. The Portland returned to undergo so much needed repairs.
  • On April 9 the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has departed the Persian Gulf and is headed home to Everett, WA. Depending on the number of port calls (and provided that her orders do not change) she should make port in roughly 30 days.
  • On April 7 it was announced that the USS Nimitz and her Battle Group had enterred the 5th Fleet AOR and were conducting operations in support of Iraqi Freedom.

Marine Corps

  • On April 21 DOD officials stated that the 26th MEU was in Iraq and had been involved in a firefight with Iraqi militants. It is not clear when the unit arrived in Iraq or where its ARG is.

Air Force

  • THe Associated Press reported on April 8 that the 94th Fighter Squadron had returned from Incirlik. 125 airmen were involved as were 6 F-15Cs.
  • The 67th Fighter Squadron has returned to Okinawa according to Stars and Stripes on April 21, 2003.
  • The 909th Air Refueling Squadron returned from OIF according to Stars and Stripes on April 21.
  • The 70th Air Refueling Squadron is currently in Saudi Arabia according to the Daily Republic on April 21.
  • The New York Times reports on April 15 that 6 F-117s, that were staging from Qatar, returned to the United States recently.
  • The 112th Fighter Squadron, part of the 180th Fighter Wing, returned from Turkey on April 14, according to the Indianapolis Star. Other elements of the unit returned late last month.
  • The 113th Fighter Squadron, of the 181st Fighter Wing, began returning recently according to
  • 4 B-2s from the 509th Bomb Wing that had been deployed to Diego Garcia in support of Iraqi Freedom have returned to Missouri, according to the Associated Press on April 13. Despite that source reporting that the aircraft also operated from Fairford, there has been no confirmation that that is actually true.
  • The 24th Special Tactics Squadron is currently operating in Iraq. This was discovered when the Air Force released that Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather, an Air Force combat controller, was killed in action.
  • 8 F-16s from the 55th Fighter Squadron departed Incirlik on April 7, 2003 according to the Air Force.
  • Additional B-52s began to arrive at RAF Fairford on or about April 3. Roughly 3 additional aircraft are the airfield, though it is not clear if these aircraft are replacing other bombers that have been relocated.

Coast Guard

  • The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) a 225' Buoy Tender has been identified as operating in the Persian Gulf according to the Baltimore Sun on April 5, 2003. The unit was apparently ordered to the region in January and departed on January 18 arriving in the Persian Gulf in early March.

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