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9th Division (Mechanized)
1st Division (Mechanized)

The 9th divison (mechanized) as of April 2006, was comprised of the 1st and 2nd mechanized brigade with the 3rd mechanized brigade still forming. The 9th division (mechanized) used to be designated the 1st division (mechanized).

Originally, the CPA had planned to withhold even tanks from the Iraqi Army. In an interview with The Financial Times in June 2004, the director of defense policy for CPA said, Iraq will have a lightly-armed standing army and no heavy field artillery if tanks and attack aircraft were needed, Iraq will have to rely on US-led forces. It was at Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawis insistence that an armored (tank) capability was added, making its debut in the January 2005 election.

By August 2005 Iraq's first armored brigade was trained and in the field, with 77 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks donated to Iraq by Hungary expected to arrive in Iraq soon. Defense Solutions announced 27 July 2005 that it would deliver the first five rebuilt T-72 Main Battle Tanks to the Iraqi Army. Iraqi Staff Major General Mahmood Ayoub Bashar accepted these tanks on behalf of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense during his attendance at program review meetings held at the HM Currus Combat Vehicle Technique Company (Currus), Gdll, Hungary.

Currus participated in the refurbishment project under a subcontract to Defense Solutions. These tanks were part of the total of 77 T-72s being rebuilt under a contract between Defense Solutions and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The T-72 tanks were originally donated to Iraq by the Government of Hungary. Defense Solutions performed this work under a US State Department license.

The T-72s will be the main combat power of a new Iraqi Armor Division being created with the assistance of the U.S. Army. The Soviet-designed T-72 remains one of the world's best main battle tanks and some think it is comparable to the original M-1 Abrams tank fielded to US forces beginning in 1980. The T-72s being provided to the Iraqi Army were the original model, have not been upgraded and are no match for the highly advanced Abrams M1A2 and the M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Program) version used by the US Army.

The T-72s were deactivated by the Hungarian Army at the end of the Cold War and placed in long-term storage. Hungary, which became part of NATO in 1999, donated the tanks to Iraq with NATO approval.

The 35th Brigade of the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division has replaced its M1A1M Abrams main battle tanks with Russian T-90s. The US media claimed that the decision was the result of Pentagon concerns about the Abrams falling into the hands of Iranian-backed militias. However, Russian observers said the T-90 is simply a better tank for Iraq.

Baghdad ordered 73 T-90 and T-90SK command tanks from Russia in 2017, with deliveries starting in February 2018. In June 2018, 39 T-90/SKs entered into service with the 35th Mechanized Brigade, a battle-hardened unit that had engaged Daesh (ISIS) at the battle of Mosul and the battle of Kirkuk in 2016 and 2017, respectively. According to the Defense Ministry, the brigade's remaining Abrams were transferred to the 34th Armored Brigade, which previously operated T-72s.

The US media have tried to put a positive spin on the swap, with journalists and analysts for The War Zone and Military Times saying the decision was based "at least partly" on US complaints about Abrams tanks being used by Popular Mobilization Units, Shiite militia groups supported by Iran, but officially designated as part of the Iraqi armed forces. In February 2018, the Pentagon acknowledged that these militias had received access to at least nine Abrams, but added that the Iraqi Army had recovered all the tanks, a fact confirmed in May in a Pentagon report to Congress.

Iraq bought some 140 M1A1Ms beginning in 2008, with only 40 operational Abrams left by December 2014 in the midst of the Daesh onslaught. Washington approved an additional 175 tanks to Iraq, but anywhere between 48-80 were destroyed or disabled in subsequent battles against Daesh, according to the Iraqi media. A single M1A1M costs Iraq an estimated $6 million, compared to $2.5 million for a T-90S. Secondly, given the fact that the M1A1M lacks the Israeli "Trophy" active protection system, which would enable it to defend against modern rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missile systems, geometric dimensions become an extremely important argument when it comes to survivability.

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Page last modified: 20-06-2018 14:28:24 ZULU