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US Forces Order of Battle - 21 May 2004

This is a "best available" listing of US forces deployed to the Central Command AOR for Southwest Asia and for US forces deployed to European Command's locations in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. It does not include forces deployed exclusively for operations in Central Asia though it may at times list units that are involved in both Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. This listing also does not account for US or Coalition forces involved in operations in the Horn of Africa.

The task of developing a comprehensive listing of US forces present in the area is particularly difficult as the number of units rotating in and out of Southwest Asia are substantial. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the Global War on Terrorism has made such an effort significantly more difficult as the military seeks to improve operational security (OPSEC) and to deceive potential enemies and the media as to the extent of American operations. The significant number of troops that have been mobilized or activated in the United States for unspecified duties, whether they be in support of Iraq Freedom or in support of homeland security also complicates matters as it is not entirely clear what units are going where.

This being the case, mistakes, misidentifications, or ignorance regarding specific units being in the region, or not in the region will occur.

Exluding forces deployed in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, there are probably about 200,000 military personnel in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. There are probably about 425 aircraft of all types. The number of troops deployed in the area fluctuates on a daily basis as new forces surge into the region and some units begin to return to the United States.

As of early March 2004 over 114,000 US personnel and over 23,000 coalition personnel from 35 nations were deployed in Iraq. Over 26,000 US and Coalition personnel were deployed in Kuwait, providing logistical support to Operation Iraqi Freedom. As of mid-April 2004 the number of troops in the Central Command Area of Responsibility was officially estimated at between 200,00 and 225,000 total. Inside the Horn of Africa there were around 1,200 that dedicate or focus themselves on the Horn of Africa. In Afghanistan there were around 20,000.

Beginning in late December 2003, the United States began implementing the OIF 2 troop rotation that would begin to bring roughly 130,000 Army personnel out of Iraq and deploy roughly 110,000 troops into Iraq as replacements. The rotation was expected to last until late April 2004 but increasing security concerns in April caused the redeployment of forces to be put on hold for roughly 90 days.

Ground forces in the region that are to be replaced include the 101st Airborne Division, 4th Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. There are also a significant number of echelon above division support units in the region. The Army is rotating in the 1st Cavalry Division, elements of the 1st Infantry Division, elements of the 25th Infantry Division, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and an additional three brigades from the Army National Guard.

It is believed that the total Army presence in Iraq is nearly 138,000 soldiers. An additional 30,000 soldiers are estimated to be operating in Kuwait and other areas of the region supporting operations in Iraq. Thus, the total number of soldiers in Southwest Asia is believed to be about 170,000.

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. While deployments for active duty units generally lasts roughly 90-days, Reserve and Guard units deploy typically for 30 - 60 days. Currently, AEF 7 & 8 are deployed, with roughly 17,000 airmen deployed in the CENTCOM AOR according to Stars and Stripes on May 26, 2004.

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. As of 05 March 2004 there was one carrier strike group and one expeditionary strike group in the area for a total of around 17,000 naval personnel. These units included about 175 helicopters and aircraft. A total of about 440 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 220 Tomahawks are actually deployed. The cruise missile force can be augmented significantly within days.

The Marine presence in Iraq is centered around the I Marine Expeditionary Force and the 1st Marine Division. One Marine Expeditionary Unit is also in the region, though it is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan [and are thus not included in this tally]. The total Marine presence is estimated to be roughly 26,000.

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


  • Combined Joint Task Force 7 has been disbanded and replaced by two new headquarters, Multi-National Force - Iraq and Multi-National Corps - Iraq. MNF-I will focus on strategic issues such as the rebuilding of Iraq's Army while MNC-I concentrates on the day-to-day tactical situation.


  • The 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery Regiment was identified as operating in Iraq. According to the Associated Press on May 19, 2004 some 350 soldiers have been in Iraq since February and are performing military police duties. The unit was identified following the deaths of two its soldiers, Spc. Carl F. Curran II and Spc. Mark J. Kasecky.
  • The availability of troops to send to Iraq appears to have become dire as there are indications that the 2nd Squadron of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment is being considered for a deployment to Iraq. The 11th ACR is tasked with providing the OPFOR at the National Training Center. An official announcement has yet to be made and it is unclear when the deployment would take place. Elements of the 11th ACR did deploy to Afghanistan in 2003 to assist in the training of the Afghan National Army.
  • A DOD release on May 18, 2004 confirmed that elements of the 2nd Infantry Division would be deploying to Iraq and the deployment would take place sometime during the Summer. The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is the unit tapped to go. The deployment will be for one year.
  • The 155th Armored Brigade (Separate) received an alert notification on or about May 12, 2004. These soldiers are slated to be sent to Iraq. 4,000 soliders are involved.
  • An Army News Service story issued on May 13, 2004 reports that the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion is currently operating at LSA Anaconda under the 13th COSCOM.
  • A press release on the 1st Cavalry Division's website (which is surprisingly informative) indicates that the 878th Engineer Battalion which has been in Iraq for roughly a year will be returning to the US by mid-June 2004.
  • Finally, information concerning the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division has become available, though the unit continues to receive scant coverage in the press or by the military. The unit is currently operating in Baghdad at FOB Headhunter. The unit is comprised of the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment as well as elements of the Engineer Brigade and DISCOM.
  • The Associated Press reported on May 13, 2004 that 680 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment had been activated and alerted to deploy. The unit has been activated for an 18 month period, 6 months for training and a year in Iraq. It is unclear when the unit will actually depart for Southwest Asia though it is possible that the unit could depart as soon as November 2004.
  • The Associated Press reported on May 12, 2004 that the 264th Engineer Group, consisting of 80 soldiers, was operating in the Middle East. Two of its subordinate units have also been identified as having been activated (by the DoD in its weekly release), but it is unclear how many are with those units or if those units are in Iraq, though they are thought to be.
  • The 1st Battalion, 152nd Field Artillery Regiment has been identified in Iraq and is operating at Abu Ghurayb, according to the Associated Press on May 12, 2004.
  • The Associated Press reported on May 12, 2004 that the 317th Military Police Battalion had returned from Iraq after more than a year. The unit returned on May 12.
  • The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment received its mobilization orders on May 11, 2004 and it will begin activating on June 7. The unit will begin heading to Iraq by November.
  • A May 3, 2004 V Corps Release indicates that the 3rd Corps Support Command returned on April 29, 2004.
  • The Associated Press reported on May 4, 2004 that military commanders in Iraq have requested that 5,000 Marines and 5,000 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division would be deployed to Iraq later this year to replace the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Some 37,000 National Guard and reserve soldiers are also to be called up to support the deployment of three National Guard Brigades that will deploy in 2005.
  • A story in Newsday on May 4, 2004 indicates that the 10th Mountain Division currently has three battalions in Iraq including the 1-32nd Infantry, the 3-17th Cavalry and the 548th Corps Support Battalion. The 2-14th Infantry that had previously been listed on the order of battle apparently returned to Fort Drum sometime in March or April.

Marine Corps

  • The Department of Defense announced on May 4, 2004 that Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit would be deployed to Iraq within 70 days to replace soldiers from the 2nd ACR and the 1st Armored Division.

Air Force

  • The Associated Press reported on May 18, 2004 that 220 airmen from the 120th Fighter Wing would deploy to Baghdad by the end of May. Roughly 10 aircraft are believed to be involved in the deployment.


  • Various sources are reporting that the Spanish troops will be completely out of Iraq by May 21, 2004. Some of these soldiers will, however remain in Kuwait, thought the precise number is unclear.
  • Agence France Presse reported on May 18, 2004 that all 369 Honduran troops deployed to Iraq will have returned to Honduras by May 21, 2004. The report indicated that some 312 soldiers had already departed Iraq and that some 57 were still in the country awaiting transportation out of Iraq. On May 20, AFP reported that Honduran troops were no longer in Iraq.
  • The BBC reported on May 18, 2004 that Hungary had sent 83 troops to Iraq as part of a unit rotation. The BBC had also indicated that five soldiers from the Presidential Guard Regiment will be sent to Baghdad to provide security for the Hungarian embassy. These soldiers will not be added to the list of foreign units, as they are not part of the stability operations.
  • The UK MOD is reported to be drawing up plans to send roughly a second brigades worth of soldiers to Iraq to reinforce 7,500 soldiers already in Iraq. This would be the British presence up to 15,000. Agence France Presse reported on May 18, 2004 that the MOD will announce a plan to send up to 3,000 soldiers to Iraq, bringing the total UK presence in Iraq to about 10,000, and the total troops presence in the region to 15,000.
  • The Associated Press reported on May 12, 2004 that the Bulgarian contingent had decreased from 496 to 454 due to the departure of soldiers who no longer wanted to remain in Iraq and because of six Bulgarian KIAs.

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