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US Forces Order of Battle - 28 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 219,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including about 775 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 96,000 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 28 April 2003 there were two carrier strike groups in the area, two amphibious task forces, and two amphibious groups, for a total of around 105,000 naval personnel. These units included about 374 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 911 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 500 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


  • Significant elements of the 1st Armored Division began deploying on or about April 25 for Iraq. The 1st AD's deployment is to last for one year.
  • Sources indicated that the majority of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment is in
  • According to the Associated Press on April 28, 250 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 75th Rangers returned to the United States early on April 28. The whole battalion, 600 soldiers, initially deployed to Southwest Asia sometime in March. It is not clear how many Rangers remain in Iraq.
  • The 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion is currently operating in Kuwait, according to the Associated Press on April 27. It is not clear when the unit arrived in the region.
  • More than 2,000 soldiers are currently deployed from the 75th Field Artillery Brigade which has been assigned to the 75th Exploitation Task Force. While only a small element of the 75th has actually deployed, the command element of the brigade heads up the unit and various Field Artillery units not normally attached to the 75th have been put under its control.
  • 2,000 soldiers from the 7th Transportation Group are currently deployed according to the Associated Press.
  • The 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment was deployed to Kuwait on April 13 according to the Associated Press. 100 soldiers were sent.
  • 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.


Marine Corps

  • The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit has apparently received orders to pack up their gear and head back to the United States according to the Associated Press on April 23. It is unclear when the unit will return.
  • 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

  • Two JSTARS and 40 airmen from the 116th Air Control Wing returned to Robins Air Forcse Base on April 27.
  • Air operations will shift from Prince Sultan Air Base to al Udeid sometime this week. It is not clear if this is an indication that the Air Force is preparing to pull-out of Saudi Arabia.
  • Elements of the 86th Airlift Wing returned to Ramstein on April 27. This unit was involved in the insertion of troops into Northern Iraq.
  • 400 airmen from the 1st FIghter Wing returned to the US on April 26, according to the Associated Press on April 27. It is not clear how much of the unit remains in the Middle East.
  • All of the B-52s that were deployed to RAF Fairford departed that location on April 24 and were headed back to their home airfields.
  • The 8th Fighter Squadron was the F-117 unit that had been deployed to Qatar for the war (and that has since returned). Previous listings of the Order of Battle have been edited to reflect this.
  • Elements of the 4th Fighter Wing have begun to return to the United States according to the Associated Press on April 23. Roughly 100 airmen have returned since April 18 and 10 F-15E Strike Eagles are to return on April 23.
  • 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.

United Kingdom

  • 3 Commando will have begun to prepare to return to the United Kingdom, according to Agence France Presse on April 21. The AFP story indicates that the Royal Marines were in Kuwait on April 21 packing gear and heading back out to Royal Navy ships. The brigade is expected to return by mid-May.
  • HMS Turbulent returned to Plymouth on April 16 according to the Guardian on April 17. The submarine launched 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq.

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