The State Department and Department of Defense have announced a planned sale of almost $300 million of defense materials through the Republic of Iraq to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Peshmerga. The article specifically states that the deal is to equip two infantry battalions and two supporting artillery battalions of Peshmerga troops. Although this isn’t a U.S. Army T/O complete Brigade Combat Team (Or U.S. Marine equivalent Battalion Landing Team), the equipment numbers marry up perfectly with similar amounts in the U.S. Army, practically stripping this Peshmerga unit of anything other than Infantry and supporting artillery assets. Case in point is the amount of Colt M16A4s (Colt mentioned as being one of the suppliers) being ordered with a number of 4,400 rifles. A T/O complete U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team has an authorized strength of 4,413 soldiers, essentially on the dot of what the Peshmerga one will be. In addition the M16A4s, the planned order also specifies 46 .50 BMG M2s, and 186 M240B medium machine guns as far as small arms are concerned. I’m sure there are handgun allotments, possibly Glock 19s thrown in but too insignificant to be mentioned in the article. Of course, a number of armored vehicles and 105mm howitzers are within the bounds of the sale as well.
The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of the equipment necessary to fully outfit two full Peshmerga Regional Brigades of light infantry, as well as the equipment necessary to outfit two artillery battalions that will ultimately provide support to those regional brigades. These artillery battalions and infantry brigades will operate under the Kurdistan Regional Governments Ministry of Peshmerga (KRG MOP) with the concurrence of the central government. Requested equipment includes the following: (4,400) M16A4 rifles; (46) M2 50 caliber machine guns; (186) M240B machine guns; (36) M1151 HMMWVs; (77) M1151 up-armored HMMWVs; (12) 3 Kilowatt Tactical Quiet Generator sets; body armor, helmets, and other Organization Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE); small arms and associated accessories including tripods, cleaning kits, magazines, and mounts; mortar systems and associated equipment; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) detection and protective equipment; dismounted and mounted radio systems; commercial navigation equipment including compasses, binoculars, and Geospatial Position System (GPS) limited to the Standard Positioning System (SPS); M1142 HMMWVs; medical equipment; Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP); cargo and transportation equipment, including light tactical vehicles, medium tactical vehicles, water trucks, fuel trucks, and ambulances; (36) refurbished M119A2 105mm howitzers; spare parts, training and associated equipment related to the mentioned vehicles and artillery systems. The total estimated program cost is $295.6 million.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States, by supporting Iraq’s capacity to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
There are a number of contractors involved in this effort, including but not limited to AM General, Oshkosh Defense, Navistar Defense, Harris Radio, and Colt Corporation. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
As we’ve seen on TFB the Peshmerga arsenal consists of a potluck of small arms to include German G36s, U.S. M16A2s, various Kalashnikov copies, and the recently mentioned Serbian M93 anti-material rifles. Not only does this present a myriad of logistical issues, but these small arms are wearing down and becoming unserviceable as the fight against the so-called Islamic State continues into it’s fourth or fifth year depending on whom you ask. Arming an entire Brigade with everything it needs for the business of warfighting is no small task or intention. Just the presence of it might not balance the favor of warfare with the Kurds but it certainly can’t be a disadvantage provided it is properly employed and trained.