The Iraqi Army

The Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Activists-March 14, 2002

After eleven years of Desert Storm, the Iraqi army still a formidable force in the Middle East region. It ranks second only to the Iranian armed forces in terms of numbers. With 450,000 men under arms, the Iraqi army consists of 30 Divisions, 9 Republican Guard Divisions and 3 Special Republican Guard Divisions. The Republican Guard grew from a presidential security forces to major battle harden forces during the Iran-Iraq War. The Iraqi 47th and 49th Infantry Divisions, the Nebuchadnezzar exchanged the heaviest fire during Desert Storm with the American 26th Commando Brigade. In the battle of Madina, the Tawakalna  and the Adnan armored Brigades lost a decisive tank battle with the 3d Armored Division. The Soviet made T-72 tanks of the Republican Guards were no match to the new American M1A1 tanks.  The elite Special Republican Guard force was established in 1995 to protect the president and his family. They are mainly recruits from the local tribes in Tikreet and the surrounding areas.

Since 1995, when the United Nations approved the Oil-for-Food program, the Iraqi military expenditures are on a steady rise from $1.3 billions a year to a projected $1.8 billions this year. Arms imports registered similar increase to $ 0.4 billion last year.  Among the arms suppliers are Russia, China, Yugoslavia, and Belarus.

Before Desert Storm, the Iraqi army had 5,550 battle tanks, 5,230 APC's, and 3,800 towed artillery pieces. After Desert Storm, these impressive numbers dwindled down to 842 battle tanks, 1,412 APC's, and 279 towed artillery piece. Today, the Iraqi army maintains 2,700 tanks including 900 T-72's, 1,800 APC's, 1,600 AFV's, and 1,800 towed artillery pieces, which include self-propelled guns and many Austrian 155 mm guns, the best in the world. In addition, the Iraqi army kept 150 multi rocket launchers of 150 kilometer range, the maximum allowed under the United Nations resolutions and terms of surrendering signed immediately after the end of the Gulf War. In an Iraqi missile factory discovered in late 2000, and located southwest of Baghdad (Al Mamoun area), ballistic missiles capable of carrying conventional explosives or chemical and biological weapons are manufactured. These ballistic missiles (Ababil-100) have a range of 150 kilometers.  Programs of manufacturing of new ballistic missiles with ranges up to 3,000 kilometers may also believed to be underway in the same factory.

The Iraqi air defense before Desert Storm consisted of 120 surface to air batteries, mostly long range SA-2, 3, 6, and lighter versions, SA-7, 8, 9, 13, 14, and 16. After Desert Storm the number dropped to 85. Three years ago, Iraq signed a military cooperation agreement with Melosovich Yugoslavia to upgrade their systems, and Chinese experts were seen in Baghdad converting Iraqi defense command networks to fiber optics.  Anti air craft guns consisted of 7,500 of  ZSU's  37 mm, 57 mm, 85 mm, and 130 mm. Iraq still maintaining 6,000 AA guns now. Combat fighters suffered the worst during the Gulf War, their number dropped considerably from 718 before the war to 353 air planes, most lack spare parts and not in operable conditions. Helicopters however, survived Desert Storm with minimal losses. Iraq air defense still have 480 helicopters of various kinds. During Iraqi army day last year, 60 combat helicopters flew over the parading ground in Baghdad in one impressive group.

On November 19, 1998, the United Nations inspectors left Iraq. They left behind 3 tons of declared VX Nerve Gas, 100 to 150 tons of G agents (Sarin), and 500 to 600 tons of Mustard Gas. The programs of producing these chemical agents resumed since then by converting chemical production facilities used for legitimate commercial uses to the production of advanced nerve agent VX.

The biological weapon programs were the hardest to trace during the United Nations inspections of 1991 to 1998. Before the Gulf War, Iraq had 18 major suspected sites for developing biological weapons. Only five sites were destroyed during Desert Storm. The rest were dismantled and moved around by the Iraqis. Only one site was visited by UNSCOM inspectors.  Iraq, may still have 8,500 liters of Anthrax, 19,000 liters of Botulinum toxin, and 2,200 liters of Aflatoxin, all under the supervision of Dr. Taha, “ Dr. Mengele ”. She is the wife of the Iraqi oil minister.

Saad Farage
President of the Iraqi Activists

Based on CSIS studies and other news articles.