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New Iraqi Army (NIA) Modernization

Equipment shortages have been reduced as equipment procured with U.S.-funded contracts began to flow into Iraq during mid-to-late 2004. By 2005, the Iraqi Army had 60 percent of its total authorized equipment, including more than 100 percent of AK-47 requirements. The Iraqi Security Forces Fund (ISFF), as provided for by Public Law 109-13, will further enable MNF-I to meet critical requirements.

U.S.-funded procurement had equipped infantry units primarily with former Warsaw Pact weapons and vehicles. The MOD, using its funds, had also sought U.S.-standard vehicles such as HMMWVs and M-113 armored personnel carriers. Mechanized forces were being trained using T-55 and T-72 tanks, BMP-1s and MTLBs. The ISOF was equipped with M4 carbines, M9 pistols, night-vision devices, M24 sniper systems, M240 machine guns, 12 gauge shotguns, 50-caliber machine guns, global positioning systems equipment, and surveillance equipment.

In August 2003, a number of Statements of Work (SOW) articulated the equipment, equipment training, logistics support requirements, and maintenance requirements for the New Iraqi Army (NIA) and the Iraqi National Defense Force (INDF). Detailed information was provided for the Light Infantry Battalion sets. Site Set Up and Prep of initial Battalion Sets (Including Government Acceptance Procedures) except the "A" Group (1st BN), the offeror was required to submit prices including delivery and site preparation for user operation of equipment to Kirkush Military Training Base (KMTB), Iraq (Mercator Grid Reference System 38SNC 22027 30374), approximately 70 miles west of Baghdad, and close to the Iranian border.

This meant that all delivered items would be unwrapped, unpackaged, assembled, re-assembled, and otherwise placed in operational order while all packing items related to shipment would be assembled and moved to a refuse site identified by the point of contact for the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) at KMTB. All CLINS except for 0002 will be priced this way. An alternative pricing arrangement was not authorized for CLINS 0003 through 0010. Delivery and site preparation for Group B (2nd BN) was to be completed by 8 November 2003 at KMTB. There was no alternative pricing proposal arrangement for the "B through I" series CLINS.

Four T-55s mothballed by the old Iraqi Army were refurbished and transported on low loaders from the old army base in al-Muqdadiyah north of Baghdad to the training base at Taji. The Iraqi army took another step forward in the security of their nation in January 2005 by mobilizing the 1st Mechanized Brigade, an armor unit. Based in Taji, the unit conducted its first operational mission this week with two presence patrols using both MTLB vehicles and T-55 tanks. The brigade also assumed part of the security mission at the Ministry of Defense by stationing BMPs on the MOD grounds.

According to US Army Col. David Styles, the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq armor project officer, the brigade had three primary missions: conduct counter-insurgency operations to provide for a secure and stable Iraq, act as the nucleus of larger formations to facilitate the creation and expansion to a mechanized division and to be Iraq's future mobile reserve.

The brigade soldiers conducted basic skills training at the individual, squad and platoon level for weeks. The training includes physical, weapons, urban operations, traffic control point, patrol, and maintenance training that incorporates the capabilities of their mechanized and armored vehicles. Training also includes civil affairs operations as the brigade will be interacting extensively with the people of Iraq.

In March 2006 the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I) finalised the distribution to the Iraqi Army of Pakistan's Heavy Industry Taxila (HIT)-manufactured Talha tracked armored personnel carriers (APCs). Iraq was the first export confirmed customer for the amphibious Talha. Equipped with mounts for 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns, the Talha APC was developed by HIT based on the BAE Systems Ground Systems Division (formerly United Defense) M113 APC manufactured in Pakistan on licence. HIT signed a contract with the Iraqi Ministry of Defence in November 2004 for delivery of 44 Talhas, 60 Al Mohafiz Security Vehicles and 300 Aahan Armoured Guard Posts. The total value of the contract is about USD31 million. Following initial deliveries in March 2005, the Iraqi Army distributed 14 Talhas to its 3rd Division, which is responsible for security in north-western Iraq, while the remaining 30 vehicles have been issued to 9th Mechanised Division based in Taji near Baghdad.

On 29 July 2005 the Swiss government approved the sale of 180 M113 armored personnel carriers to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE planned to transfer the 180 APCs, from a Swiss army surplus, to Iraq as a gift. This requires an end-user certicate from the Iraqi government stating that the vehicles are actually bound for Iraq. The RUAG armaments group must submit the certificate to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The Swiss military equipment law prohibits the export of arms to war zones. As the APC's country of origin, the USA must also confirm that it approves of the deal.

The M113A1 is a lightly armoured full tracked air transportable personnel carrier designed to carry personnel and certain types of cargo. The M113-family was developed the from M59 and M75 which were designed by FMC (Food Machinery Corp.) in the late 1950´s. The vehicle is capable of: amphibious operations in streams and lakes; extended cross country travel over rough terrain; and high speed operation on improved roads and highways.

T-72By 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), Gödöllő, 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.

Defense Solutions, LLC is an international project management and consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tel-Aviv, Israel; and Budapest, Hungary. Defense Solutions provides program management and strategic studies and analyses for its clients. It also provides business development and program advocacy for companies in the Defense, Homeland Security, Information Technology and Telecommunications markets. Defense Solutions utilizes a network of experts who have a wide range of specialties in industry, government, the armed forces, law enforcement, maritime security and national politics. The December 2009 deal between Iraq's Defense Ministry and Ukraine's state-owned arms exporter, UkrSpetsExport, involved 420 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers, six Antonov AN-32B transport aircraft and other equipment. The contract was the largest arms deal concluded by Ukraine and will likely boost its ranking for arms sales for 2009 from 14th to 4th or 5th. The United States agreed to provide the Iraqi military with armor and heavy weapons, but had so far not agreed to Baghdad's request for F-16 strike aircraft.

As of 14 October 2010, ISF had received 35 M1A1 Abrams tanks and eight M88A2 tracked recovery vehicles as part of a comprehensive program to modernize Iraq's military. The remaining 105 tanks and recovery vehicles were scheduled for delivery by December 2011. U.S. Forces-Iraq and Iraq's Ministry of Defense developed a training program in 2009 to familiarize the Iraqis with the Abrams tank, and Iraqi soldiers demonstrated their training and new equipment during a ceremony on October 14 at Camp Iraqi Hero.

In Iraq, even after the American occupation, the government continued to show interest in Russian armored vehicles, to which the local tank crews had been accustomed. The Iraqi army still receives these vehicles from Eastern European countries. But in February 2013 former Iraqi Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Abdul Qadir Mohammed Jassim Obeidi al-Mifarji' announced that the army would no longer buy any "Eastern tanks," since they are "just bombs on caterpillar tracks." He meant that the ammunition would detonate at the slightest penetration of the armor, as often happened in skirmishes involving these Soviet tanks in the Gulf wars.

The Government of Iraq steadfastly denied on 04 March 2014 that it had signed any contracts to buy military weapons, ammunition or other military equipment from Iran, as alleged in some recent news reports. In a statement, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense explained that numerous international firms, including Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, recently submitted offers to provide Iraq with military hardware, but the proposal from Iran was rejected.

An unofficial translation of the full statement by the Ministry of Defense stated: "Some media outlets have alleged the signing of arms and military equipment deals between Iraq and Iran, and there are those who have taken advantage of this politically and in the media. We would like to make the following clarification:

"Based on the need of our armed forces for some ammunition for light weapons and night vision equipment to fill the shortage of some of our military units, offers were submitted from several international firms, in various countries including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, China, Ukraine and Pakistan, in addition to the Iranian Defense Industries Organization, which submitted their bids and delivery schedules. However, preference was given to other companies and no contract was signed with the Iranian company."

The US State Department made a determination 19 December 2014 approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for M1151A1 Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $579 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

The Government of Iraq had requested a possible sale of 1000 M1151A1 Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), 1000 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, and 1000 MK-19 40mm grenade launchers with universal mounts, commercial radios, communication equipment, repair and spare parts, publications and technical documentation, tools and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor logistics and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The State Department made a determination 19 December 2014 approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for M1A1 Abrams tanks and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

The Government of Iraq requested a possible sale of 175 Full Track M1A1 Abrams Tanks with 120mm Gun modified and upgraded to the M1A1 Abrams configuration, 15 M88A2 Improved Tank Recovery Vehicles, 175 .50 Caliber M2 Machine Guns with Chrysler Mount, 350 7.62mm M240 Machine Guns, 10 .50 Caliber BR M2 HB Machine Guns, 10,000 M831A1 120mm High Explosive Anti-tank TP-T Ammunition, 25,000 M865 120mm TPCSDS-T Ammunition, 10,000 M830A1 120mm High Explosive Anti-tank Multipurpose Tracer Ammunition, 10,000 M1002 120mm Target Practice Multipurpose Tracer (TPMP-T) Ammunition, and 190 AN/VRC-92 Vehicular Dual Long-Range Radio Systems, 700 M1028 Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles, Radios, Receiver Transmitters (RT-1702G), installation, ammunition, simulators, communication equipment, support equipment, fuel, transportation, spare and repair parts, site surveys, Quality Assurance Teams, special tools and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistical support services, and other related elements of program and logistics support.

The United States donated 250 mine-resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles to the Iraqi Government for the country’s security forces to fight against the Islamic State (IS), the US Department of State said 07 January 2015. “These MRAP vehicles [will] provide increased ballistic and counter mine protection for Iraqi security forces,” US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones was cited as saying in a State Department statement. “These vehicles will save Iraqi lives and enable Iraqi security forces to win the fight against ISIL.”

The Department of State also said that the United States continues to deliver weapons and ammunition to Iraq in response to the country’s request and to support “counter-terrorism policy that incorporates political, economic and security cooperation.”

In March 2015 a sensational photo appeared on the internet of the American M1A1M Abrams tank (from the Iraqi armed forces) and the Russian T-72C tank (from the Iranian Shiite army) waging a concerted attack to liberate the Iraqi town of Tikrit, which was held by the armed formation known as the Islamic State (ISIS). Most likely, the tanks shown in the photo were both part of the Shiite army supported by Iran and the photo demonstrated how much the chaos sweeping through the region has mixed everything up. The T-72C is the export modernized version of the T-72 tank. It is 30 years old and is part of the Iranian Armed Forces, the only foreign military that bought this modification.

By the end of 2015, by one account, over 100 of the 140 M1A1 tanks supplied by the US to Iraq between 2010 and 2012 were destroyed (that is, virtually the entire force; the rest had not seen fighting). Daesh militants claimed that they were "easy" to destroy. In a real war, when the operation is poorly planned, all tanks, no matter how expensive, will burn. The US wanted $2.4 billion from the Iraqis for the next batch of 170 M1A1s, or approximately the same amount India paid for its 1,000 T-90s.

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