Bookmark and Share

1. Geography
2. Political situation
3. Defense
4. Economy
a. Figures
5. Health
6. Education
a. Universities
7. Demographics
8. Religions
a. Freedom
9. Peoples
10. Languages
11. Human rights
12. History
13. Cities and Towns

Open the online Arabic language course

Open map of IraqFlag of IraqIraq /

Military branches
All information here, prior to the US/British-Iraq War of 2003

Fedayeen Saddam: Between 30,000 and 40,000
Special Republican Guard: 10,000 men, 4 brigades, 100 tanks
Republican Guard: 50,000 men, 6 divisions, 400 tanks
Army: 375,000 troops (including 100,000 recalled reserves)
Navy: 2,000
Air Force: 35,000
Air Defence Force: 17,000
Border Guard Force: Unknown size
In addition, there are 650,000 reserves.
Defence expenditure: $1,3 billion (1998 estimate)

The Iraqi military used to be one of the strongest in the Middle East until 1990. Following the restrictions imposed upon Iraq after the defeat in the Gulf War, many of the most important weapons have been destroyed, and only weapons that impose little danger to neighbouring states have been allowed to be bought.
At the time of the start of the US/British-Iraq War, it was still unclear if Iraq had managed to hide weapons of mass destruction, but it appeared certain that Iraq had no nuclear weapons nor programmes to develop such.
The Iraqi defence is divided into several branches, with professional armies close to the regime as the core. In the list to the left they are ranked according to their closeness to the regime. The Fedayeen Saddam and the Special Republican Guard must be considered equally close to Saddam Hussein, — headed as they both are by his two sons.
The army troops was the only part of the defence still working at a level similar to pre-1990 conditions. The Air Defence and the Navy had been severely weakened.
The Fedayeen Saddam is a paramilitary group, specialized in guerilla warfare. They often dress in civilian clothes, in order to confuse their enemy. They are believed to be headed by Saddam's oldest son, Uday, bypassing the military chain of command. As they often join the ranks of the ordinary army, they prove effective in controlling these forces. They are accused by US intelligence for smuggling weapons across the borders, and for brutal attacks and killings of Iraqi opposition.
The elite force of Iraq are the Republican Guard and even more, the Special Republican Guard. These two branches holds soldiers better trained, equipped and paid than the regular army. All republican troops are volunteers. Many of these troops come from the region of Tikrit, the home region and home clan of Saddam Hussein. The Special Republican Guard is headed by Saddam's son Qusay.
The regular Iraqi army is believed to consist of 17 divisions, each with 10,000 men or more. 7 divisions are infantry, 3 mechanized and 3 have heavy armour tanks. 85% of the soldiers are conscripts, the other professional soldiers. The regular army has been left out in the cold, while developing elite forces. Much of the equipment is old, sometimes dating back to the 1960's. According to the intelligence sources, the army has 2,200 tanks, 3,800 armoured personnel carriers and 2,000 artillery pieces. It is believed that the training of the army has been insufficient compared to pre-1990 Iraq. Yet, many of the officers of the army have extensive real war experience from the Iran-Iraq War.
The Iraqi air force was heavily reduced in the Iran-Iraq War, and has seen little improvement since then. Intelligence reports indicate that Iraq has about 180 fighter planes, but that only half are serviceable. 70% of the planes are Soviet-built, the rest French. The strongest planes of Iraq are about 10 MiG-25's. It is believed that the training of the air force has been insufficient over recent years, much because of the no-fly zones north and south in the country.
The air defence force of Iraq suffers from old equipment, which has proven to be unable to hit the target in most cases, especially when facing modern air forces like the US. The only upgrade of Iraqi air defence facilities has come from Serbia in the 1990's.

By Tore Kjeilen