View Full Version : Iraqi M1A1s

09-25-2008, 04:14 AM
LINK (http://www.defencetalk.com/news/publish/army/Iraq_-_M1A1_and_Upgrade_to_M1A1M_Abrams_Tanks110016272.p hp)

That should effectively dissuade most ME neighbors. What does the SWJ crew think?

09-25-2008, 04:47 AM

Like the Saudis and Kuwaitis, it ensures future employment for former 63B's and Master Gunners.

They probably would have done better to buy much upgraded T-72 (T-90's) that are on the market with reactive armor, stabilization, IR jammers, and other cool features. The M1A1 requires a highly educated crew to run - especially to maintain zero on the ballistics and stabilization system, not to mention maintenance. It's a 1st World army tank, not a 3d World tank. Iraq doesn't have the demonstrated military capability to maintain such an asset or employ it effectively. I may sound flippant, but those who have observed some of the unbelievable shade tree mechanic stuff in Iraq will understand. Hell, they could barely keep T-72's running!

It's a great tank, but not simple to maintain. Given my experience with Iraqi maintenance standards (duct tape and bailing wire), complex ballistic/stabilization system, and a troublesome powerpack, this will be another ME armored force that the HN can't maintain without lots of outside help.

However, much of Arab "power" is not what you can do with it but what you have in your inventory. Gotta keep up with the Jones!

Finally, I can't believe that the Kuwaitis aren't pitching a fit over this. If they ever went at it again, you would see the first M1 vs M1 shootouts. Last side with a tank not broken down wins!

09-25-2008, 10:04 AM
More money and retirement jobs for us! Obviously the two big issues I'll echo are the training of the crews and the maintenance to for the upkeep of the tanks. Having spent two wonderful advisory tours with the Iraqis here are my takes:

1) Training. While we tankers may not be the smartest of the bunch, there is a certain amout of tactical and technical expertise a tank crew needs to develop in order to both survive and win. The hours of Unit Conduct of Fire Training (UCOFT), the stair stepping of gunnery tables and the countless hours of everything from straight road marching to maneuver training all builds successful crews. The addition of great NCOs, those E7s who have been tanking for 15 years, provides an unmatched resource the Iraqis just will not have for some time. True they had tanks but you can see what their level of training was based on the multitude of destroyed/captured tanks spread out from Kuwait to Baghdad.

2). Maintenance: Anyone who has been to Taji has seen the massive tank scrap yard...a testiment to Iraqi maintenance standards. We in the American army have a hard time getting soldiers to take care of their equipment, conducting a PMCS to the -10 level or getting the dispatching procedures accurate. This is coming from a mechanical and fairly well educated culture. Iraq (and most Arab nations) do not have a technical or overly mechanical background to fall back on. Add a little "Inshallah" (God's will) in there and you have the making for a great motor pool of 140 M1A1 bunkers...cause they ain't going to move anywhere without the maintence to support them. My Iraqi battalion in 2004 could barely keep white toyota pickup trucks running.

3) Logistical systems: While I have seen vast improvements in the Iraqi logistical structure from 2004, there is a big difference between taking care of infantry battalions and some T-72s vs the fuel hog that the M1 is. We are talking about a massive refueling capability to keep 505 gallons in the M1A1 every 12 hours or so. Again, these will be some great looking M1A1s in an Iraqi motor pool somewhere until they get the log system (up to and including the ministerial level) mature.

We are having issues getting our own new tanks here on time...must be nice to work through FMS!

Rob Thornton
09-25-2008, 11:16 AM
While not my preferred method of maintaining equipment - Iraq will certainly be wealthy enough to contract its logistics.

There is certainly a risk, but perhaps its negligible unless it plans external, expeditionary operations. If Iraq wants a first class army, and is willing to pay for it, not just buy the equipment but to pay for all the DOTMLPF requirements to make it happen, then its an internal decision.

Reed's point about deterrence is well taken - it goes beyond just the face the hardware on the ground portrays, but shows a partnership with the U.S., and a commitment to remake itself in some ways. I've seen Iraqis move a long way in a short period of time wrt how they view their equipment, and the other DOTMLPF aspects - personally I think the capable of rising to the challenges - with some help. As Ken mentioned on another thread - a major question is our commitment to them both politically and beyond train and equip.

This may get to the heart of the decision to equip with hardware that we can supply vs. other supply lines that may dry up or in the case with others - come with sets of conditions that run counter to both the Iraqis and our interests. How important is it to retain Iraq as a partner? How important is it to show continued support for their efforts to exist as a sovereign state? As another example, there is also the issue of future interoperability - not just wrt now, or on the ground but with an eye towards future goals, and the ability to offer new opportunities in IMET, training teams, etc. In my view these things are all related.

Every FSF is different, and what is sustainable by them must be considered both against their economic base, their commitment, their human capital, and their security requirements. Today's most critical threats may not be tomorrow's, but unless some measure of preparation is made now - tomorrow will come up short.

Best, Rob

09-26-2008, 03:02 AM
It is hard to know where to start... and several posts have already hit the obvious challenges:

1. Maintenance - Heavy requirement for contractors to keep the fleet operational. Years to get Iraqi forces trained and competent in the complex tasks.
2. Training - Years of crew training to achieve basic competence. Heavy investment in professional education programs for company grade officers and NCOs.
3. Refueling - The Iraqi army has little current logistics capability, and yet this fleet will require the largest logistical 'tail' of any ground weapons system in the western arsenal.
4. Need - The M1 series is a great addition, if the primary task is defense of Iraq against external threats. And yet, in the near to mid-range future it would seem the only threat of that sort is Iran. Isn't it a safe assumption that US airpower will fill that need if required?
5. Employment - For most tasks, a fleet of MRAPS or Strykers would probably be a better choice. If it is tanks they want, it seems fairly obvious that a fleet of nice T-72s could be had easily and cheaply. Such a choice would solve much of 1-3 above.

So why? Perhaps the answer is maintaining respect. Hard to say no to an ally from whom so much is expected. How do you maintain trust and respect, while saying what I have summarized above to the political and military leadership of Iraq? Perhaps at this stage in the relationship that is just not possible. Better to field three battalions of new tanks, than risk a break of confidence and support. The other answer is the possible triumph of lobbyists and corporations, forcing DOD to push an otherwise less than optimum solution in search of a dollar.

Whatever the answer, it would be a shame for a pile of fabulous machines to grace yet another Iraqi boneyard in a few years.

Rank amateur
09-26-2008, 12:18 PM
The other answer is the possible triumph of lobbyists and corporations, forcing DOD to push an otherwise less than optimum solution in search of a dollar.


Iraq will certainly be wealthy enough to contract its logistics.

Another bull's eyes.

My biggest fear is that the Iranians will get a very close look at it. Israel learned what happens what Iranian trained enemy forces know exactly which weapon will damage which vulnerability. And Iran owes Russia money.

09-26-2008, 03:10 PM
The other answer is the possible triumph of lobbyists and corporations, forcing DOD to push an otherwise less than optimum solution in search of a dollar.

Limited manufacturing dollars here (will likely be refurbished US surplus or from Egypt) except for the engine. I think DOD and Sate end up the bigger winners becouse it gives us a reason to keep a presence in-country. Appearance does seem to have a role in deterrance in the ME BTW.

Rob Thornton
09-26-2008, 07:48 PM
Its also not just the resources to keep the "horse" boarded that make it a winner, you have to take it out and exercise it. This has been a short fall in many an Army. They might have bought good equipment, but their ability at the individual and crew level to employ it has been limited, their ability at the collective level to maneuver, C2 and synchronize other war fighting functions has also been limited. The more you exercise, the more you have to be able to do the requisite upkeep - on that level it makes no difference what platform we're talking about.

A less well equipped, but better trained and led Army stands a good chance of handing their opposite number their lunch. This is why the FSF institution must consider the range of DOTMLPF implications against their security strategy requirements far enough out in front to make a difference (this is a challenge no matter who you are, but the more policy requirements you have the tougher it is I think)

Such DOTMLPF question include (but are far from limited to):

-What is to be the doctrine which will support your security goals?

-What types of organizations best support that doctrine?

-What types of training must be done to execute the doctrine and build proficiency in the organizations?

-What types of materiel purchases best equip the those organizations to execute the doctrine? What are the requirements encumbered by making a given hardware decision? Are my various pieces interoperable? Are they sustainable for my budget? Do they meet both my current and future needs? What are the pros and cons? etc.

-What types of leaders will I need and what types of experience, development and education will be required to make them competent at all levels?

- What will be my recruiting and retention requirements to fill those organizations? How much am I willing to spend on people and their families? Do I go with a conscript or a all volunteer professional force? Which can I maintain better and which ties in better with other domestic and FP goals?

-What types of facilities from ammunition and hardware production plants ot training ranges, to service colleges, to housing infrastructure, etc.

These are all examples of questions that Iraq's Civ/Mil discussion is going to have to come to grips with. I know we have senior ministerial level advisors assisting them with meeting their goals, as well as tactical level advisors assisting them with giving some bottom up refinement. However, ultimately its a question every state must answer on its own.

A couple of other noteworthy things:

I've crawled around in a T-72 and some other former Soviet equipment. I've also spent a fair ammount of time in most of our own platforms. I've planned against the former, and for the latter. I can tell you that all other things being equal - such as training and leadership, I'll take our stuff hands down. I'll also take our LOG system hands down.

Most of the Iraqis I know have become very impressed with our stuff, our training, our officerss and even our NCO. They've seen what it can do, have rode in allot of it, have fought from some of it, have U.S. advisors who are more familiar with our equipment then much of the Russian stuff - anyone who has had to deal with the Kraz 7.5t will know where I'm coming from on that one. They have seen our trust in our equipment, and have developed some trust in it by extension. One of the biggest changes in our IA BN came when we traded in Toyotas and some of the other stuff for up armored HMMWVs - it increased LOG, but it also increased their capability.

Iraq I believe also wants to buy F-16s. This is a good multi- role platform, used by a number of our allies. Form an ally's perspective - while its nice to know your allies have your back, policies may change, and it may be more acceptable for your ally to continue to sell you stuff vs. act militarily on your behalf. Not all of your allies' friends are going to be yours. And your allies are not always going to have the same feeling of immediacy or resolution to your policy goals and fears - better to have the capability and capacity to stand on your own till you can bring them around. Also, democracies are sometimes fickle and change leaders - having other strong reasons and lobbyist that tie their interests to yours makes sense. Notice others in the ME who buy from a variety of suppliers - their hardware may not match up, but they have financial ties, and thus interests to their suppliers.

RA's comment on the Iranians is worth considering as is anytime we sell to an ally who is not of the closest sort.

Reed's comment about presence is also important - it shows commitment, even if the guy is not wearing a uniform.

Charlie's comment on support to an ally upon who we have invested so much, and who may have a great deal of potential I believe is also spot on.

Once again, few clean, no risk options.

Best, Rob