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Republican Guard

During the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, the Iraqi armed forces underwent many changes in size, structure, arms supplies, hierarchy, deployment, and political character. Headquartered in Baghdad, the army--of an estimated 1.7 million or more Iraqis, including reserves (actual numbers not available) and paramilitary--in 1987 had seven corps, five armored divisions (each with one armored brigade and one mechanized brigade), and three mechanized divisions (each with one armored brigade and two or more mechanized brigades). And by the close of the Iran-lraq war the Iraqi Army General Headquarters supervised up to ten corps headquarters, which performed administrative and logistical tasks and directed operations. Each corps commanded as many as ten armored, mechanized, or infantry divisions, depending on the tactical situation. The brigade was normally the smallest unit to operate independently.

Also subordinate to the General Headquarters but separate from the regulars was the corps size Republican Guard Forces Command, which constitutes the shock troops of Iraq's military. Originally created to protect the government, its tanks, mechanized infantry, infantry, and special forces had done well in the Iran-lraq war as a theater reserve for counterattacking Iranian breakthroughs. By 1987 this Force had grown to three armored divisions, one infantry division, and one commando division.

Saddam Hussein's August 1990 offensive into Kuwait with Republican Guard, mechanized, and special forces caused concern in Washington and Riyadh over whether the Iraqis would continue their drive south into Saudi Arabia. In September 1990 the Iraqis repositioned their troops, with infantry units taking the place of mechanized formations along the border, mechanized troops moving into immediate reserve, and the Republican Guard five full divisions and a separate regiment redeploying into theater reserve, just north of the Iraq-Kuwait border.

The envelopment and destruction of Republican Guard units was a high priority of Coalition planners. During the Desert Storm ground campaign the American 24th Infantry Division encountered the heaviest resistance of the war. The Iraqi 47th and 49th Infantry Divisions, the Nebuchadnezzar Division of the Republican Guard, and the 26th Commando Brigade took heavy fire but stood and fought, but the 24th Division trapped most of the Republican Guard divisions. The 1st Armored Division hit the Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard, and the 3d Armored Division fought its toughest battles in defeating elements of the Tawakalna Division. These Armored Divisions subsequently engaged remnants of the Tawalzalaa, Madina, and Adnan Divisions of the Republican Guard.

The Republican Guard, currently consisting of seven divisions, is commanded by Qusai Saddam Hussein, and the Chief of Staff is Staff General Ibrahim Abd Al Sattar Mohammad Al-Tikriti.

A typical Republican Guard armored division would include the following elements:
 Divisional Headquarters

 2 Tank Brigades
  3 Tank Battalions
  1 Mechanized Infantry Battalions
  1 Motorized Special Forces Company
  1 Engineering Company
  1 Reconaissance Platoon
  1 Medium Rocket Launcher Battery

1 Mechanized Infantry Brigade
  3 Mechanized Infantry Battalions
  1 Tank Battalion
  1 Antitank Company
  1 Motorized Special Forces Company
  1 Engineering Company
  1 Reconaissance Platoon
  1 Medium Rocket Launcher Battery

Divisional Artillery Brigade
  3 Self-Propelled Artillery Battalions (155mm SP)
  2 Self-Propelled Artillery Battalions (152mm SP)
  2 Self-Propelled Artillery Battalions (122mm SP)

Seperate Units:
  3 Motorized Special Forces Battalions
  1 Reconaissance Battalion
  1 Antitank Battalion
  1 Engineer Battalion

Sources and Methods



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Updated Wednesday, November 26, 1997 5:56:23 PM