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US Weapons Still Pouring Into Iraq

December 28, 2014

US M1 Abrams In Iraq

After almost 150 days of airstrikes against the Islamic State, the US is now bolstering Iraq’s struggling military.

Despite billions in foreign aid and huge purchases of foreign weapon systems by its government, Iraq’s armed forces are still reeling from IS, colloquially known as Daesh.

A week before Christmas Day, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) published its intent to equip the Iraqi Security Forces with tanks and Humvees following a request for possible sale by the Iraqi government.

The transaction is worth $3.9 billion and is divided into two batches.

The first batch includes 175 M1A1 Main Battle Tanks, 15 M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicles, and 700 M1028 Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles (CUCV).

The Chevrolet M1028 CUCV is an interesting choice of vehicle, being a 4×4 pickup adapted in the 1980s by the US Army. Its role alongside the M1A1 is a question mark although pickup trucks are popular vehicles among Iraq’s warring factions.

CUCV pickup truck

CUCV pickup truck

Totaling $2.4 billion, the additional 175 M1A1 Abrams MBTs will join Iraq’s 140 M1A1 Abrams’, the last of which were delivered in 2011.

The M1A1 Abrams sale is packaged together with machine guns and 55,000 120mm tank rounds.

With 315 M1A1 Abrams’ on paper, Iraq is now the third largest operator of the popular MBT after Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It’s also the fourth Arab country to possess the M1A1 Abrams after Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The second batch consists of 1,000 M1151A1 Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles or Humvees. Each vehicle comes with a .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun and a 40mm MK19 grenade launcher.

The Humvees being sold are equipped with a universal mount, commercial radios, communication equipment, and spare parts as well as technical support from US contractors.

The cost for the second batch is $579 million.

Since it’s facing a rabid insurgency, Iraq’s need for off-road transports is enormous. In May this year the Iraqi government purchased 200 Humvees to augment its current vehicle pool.

Aside from the numerous arms sales transacted by the Iraqi government during the previous five years, even more weapons from NATO members and Eastern Europe are arriving in the north for the Kurds.