Fast Facts: The Iraqi Military

Iraqi Army | Iraqi Air Force

Iraqi Army

•  The Iraqi Army has been in disarray following the Gulf War, suffering serious equipment loses, damage to production facilities and continuing supply problems. The Iraqis were forced to cannibalize many vehicles for the parts needed to keep more advanced equipment in service.
•  The role of the armed forces is to protect the president and the ruling Baath Military Party (BPMB), to preserve internal security and to confront the external enemies of the state.
•  The size of the Iraqi army -- estimated at 350,000 soldiers -- is much smaller following the Gulf War. This may have led to increased command efficiency, but its effectiveness is still in question.
•  Most of the army's lower ranks are made up of conscripts, serving for periods of 18 to 24 months.
•  The number of regular army divisions was cut from seven armored/mechanized and 20 infantry divisions to two or three armor divisions, three mechanized divisions and 15 to 17 infantry divisions.
•  Saddam Hussein and his close advisers rule the military through the BPMB. The bureau has the responsibility of forming policy from a military and political point of view.
•  In 1998, Saddam divided the country into four military commands designed to prevent popular uprisings. Each was under the command of one of Saddam's trusted inner circle. The commands were suspended in June 2000, but can be activated if the need once again arises. The four commands are the Southern Region, the Northern Region, the Central Euphrates Region and the Central Region.

Special Republican Guard (SRG):
•  Reported to be supervised by Saddam's son Qusay Saddam Hussein, its commander is Staff MG Kheir-Allah Waheed Omar al-Nassiri.
•  The super-elite military force's mission is to protect Saddam's regime, as well as the security of Baghdad.
•  The SRG numbers approximately 26,000 men.
•  It consists of four infantry brigades with a total of 14 infantry battalions. This force is augmented with armor, artillery and air defense units.
•  The SRG is the only divisional strength unit allowed to be based in central Baghdad, where it has tight control of key government installations and Republican Palace.
•  Potential recruits undergo exhaustive background checks; ethnic and family background is included.

Iraqi Air Force

•  According to sources within the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Iraqi Air Force has 350 operational aircraft. However, the definition of  "operational" is questionable, and this number may be inflated. According to Jane's Information, only 90 of the estimated 750 combat aircraft available during the Gulf War are now operational.
•  Iraq now has only about 17 air squadrons, compared to a pre-Desert Storm 41 squadrons.
•  Before the Gulf War, the IAF had 60 functioning airfields. However, a quarter of these has been rendered unusable because they are located in the no-fly zone.
•  The serious losses of the 1991 Gulf War had not been replaced due to sanctions, but new engines and other spare parts for Mig-23 and 25's from Syria.
•  International sanctions have prevented Iraqi access to overseas maintenance and repair facilities, although spare parts for MIG-23s and MIG-25s enter the nation from Syria. Iraq has also been unable to acquire new modern aircraft or improve in-air refueling capabilities.
•  The combat efficiency of the IAF is considered very low.

Commanders (as of late 2001):
•  Air Force Commander: General Hamid Rajah Shalah
•  Assistant for Operations: General Saad Ahmad Naji
•  Commander of Aviation: General Ibrahim Ali Youssef
•  Commander of AF Training: General Sabah Mutlik
•  Air Force Intelligence Commander: General Hussein Zibin

•  30 MIG-23ML "Flogger-G"
•  5 MIG-25PD "Foxbat-E"
•  4 MIG-29 "Fulcrum-A"

Air Defense/Attack
•  20 Dassault Mirage F1EQ/BQ
•  30 MIG-21PF/MF "Fishbed-D/J"

•  20 Sukhoi Su-22M "Fitter-J" 
•  5 Sukhoi Su-24K "Fencer-D" 
•  10 Sukhoi Su-25K "Frogfoot-A"

Combat Helicopters
•  2 Bell 214ST

•  2 Antonov An-24 "Coke" 
•  6 Antonov An-26  "Curl"
•  1 Ilyushin Il-76 "Candid"

Source: Jane's Information, Global