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US Forces Order of Battle - 26 May

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. 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 207,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including about 775 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 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 12 May 2003 there was one carrier strike group in the area, two amphibious task forces, and one amphibious group, for a total of around 93,000 naval personnel. These units included about 200 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 449 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 250 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 deployment of the 1st Armored Division is still the subject of some confusion as it is not clear just how much of the division is fully operational or even in country. It is certainly clear that the Brigade from Fort Riley is in Iraq, as it has been operating with the 3rd Infantry Division for most of the war. The Associated Press reported on May 22 that the division had arrived in Iraq, though it is not clear if they mean the whole division.
  • 18th Military Police Brigade is also operating under the designation "Task Force Vigilant Justice" according to Stars and Stripes on May 22, 2003.
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on May 23 that the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment has begun to return to the United States. The return on May 22 included some thirteen members and one aircraft. Roughly 100 soldiers remain in Iraq and will be returning in the coming weeks. While the 160th SOAR had been listed on our order of battle for sometime, specifics concerning the 3rd BN were unavailable. The unit deployed in January.
  • The 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment has returned to Fort Hood according to a release from the 1st Cavalry Division on May 19. The return took place on May 21 and included 300 soldiers.
  • The 17th Field Artillery Brigade has apparently been in Iraq for some time. A report from the Daily Oklahoman on April 14 indicates that the Birgade departed on or about April 12.


  • 120 Seabeas from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 returned on May 20, this was in addition to the 200 that returned on May 19 according to the Biloxi Sun Herald on May 21. The rest of the unit is expected to return by the end of May.

Marine Corps

  • 180 Marines from Marine Air Group 29 returned on May 19. This is believed to be the precursor to the return of the rest of the 2,500 Marines that deployed with 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, according to the Jacksonville Daily News on May 20.
  • 140 members of Marine Air Support Squadron 1 also returned on May 19.
  • Roughly 200-300 Marines from 2nd Force Service Support Group returned to Camp Lejeune within the last week or so. The confusion about the number is due to Marines from other units also returning. It is believed that elements of the 8th Communications BN, 2nd Reconnaissance BN, 2nd Combat Engineer BN, and the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
  • 200 members of the 1st Force Service Support Group returned to California on May 19 according to the North County Times on May 20.
  • The North County Times also reported on May 20 that 292 Marines from the Marine Air Control Group 39 returned on May 20. The total Marines returning with MAG 39 is 300.
  • Marines from the 1st Radio Battalion returned to Hawai'i on May 18 according to the Honolulu Advertiser on May 20. Roughly 40 Marines returned on that day following 10 who had returned earlier in the month. Nearly 250 Marines from the 1st Radio BN initially deployed on February 9.

Air Force

  • The 2nd Airlift Squadron returned on May 15, 2003 according to an Air Force release.
  • Airmen from the 524th Fighter Squadron returned to Cannon Air Force Base on May 12.

United Kingdom

  • Agence France Presse is reporting on May 22 that the 16 Air Assault Brigade is to be shifted towards Baghdad to relieve US units that are slated to return to the United States, or are experiencing difficulties in returning order to the city. The deployment is said to include the entire unit, some 5,500 soldiers.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:28:21 Zulu