Iraqi T-72s

Here’s a pic I meant to post of the Hungarian T-72 tanks on their way to Iraq that MO’s kept an eye on:

Click for a better look. It was taken in Slovenia as they began the trip to the Sandbox. From a Defense Solutions LLC press release forwarded to MO.

Here’s a pic of one unloading in Iraq:

Even though the business end of the main gun is pointing at you, you’re looking at the rear of the vehicle. Notice the curved brackets folded against the hull. Those are for holding the RPG magnets:

It’s hard to make out, but I think that it’s item #10 on this drawing. Fuel tanks for added range. If you like driving a long way to a barbecue on the beach.

Here’s a pic of Iraqi Gen. Bashar, commander of the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division (Mechanized), driving one of his new tanks.

Someone will have to tell him it’s now okay for Iraqi tanks to point thier turrets forward when within range of American firepower.

Okay. Enough joking. These last two photos are from the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq website

Here’s the cover of the latest MNSTC-I newsletter:

The cover story is about a parade put on by the new armored brigade of the Iraqi 9th Division:

Yesterday, I noted that Strategy Page reported that the Iraqis are hoping that we’ll be leaving behind some M1s when we “redeploy” some of our forces. I’ve got to say that I don’t think that’s the greatest idea in the world. Out of the millions of things that could happen after doing so, only a few of them are good. I think T-72s are plenty good enough.


  1. Nicholas, Yes, the fuel tanks can be dropped without getting out of the vehicle. MO, What’s the big deal leaving them some M1s? If the mission of the Iraqi military is primarily self-defense, then it seems Iran is their most potent, and traditional, nemesis. If that’s the case, why not give them some reasonably new gear to field against Iran? As a bonus, we get- ideally- a competent land force we might use as leverage against Teheran in the future.

  2. Yes, I know the fuel tanks can be tossed. In an urban environment, though, I’d be more than a little concerned about the whole thing. Unless they need them for long patrols, I’d suggest not using them. GL: Holy crap! I don’t know that I’ve ever run into anyone more optimistic about both the capability and the loyalty of the Iraqi army than me! I think it’s a fine line we’re walking. One the one hand we want a good, large, competent, well-equipped Iraqi army to fight the insurgency and deter Iraq’s less-scrupulous neighbors. On the other hand, we want an Iraqi army that is little threat to anyone outside Iraq’s borders and no threat whatsoever to our military. I think T-72s fit both bills. Tell Iraq that if they behave they can have some M1s in eight or ten years.

  3. MO, Well…I dunno how optimistic I am about Iraq’s armed forces. But I figure the best case scenario is that a competent Iraqi Army has a clutch of M1s. The worst case is Al Qaeda in Iraq has a clutch of M1s. Tactically troublesome if we have to fight them, but not an insurmountable obstacle. And ‘competent’ here means ‘capable of holding the line against an attack by a neighbor’. I think martial competency in that part of the world is demonstrably different from competency within TRADOC.

  4. GL: I see your point, and don’t really disagree all that much. But it seems to me that, when they’re ready, we give these T-72 units some basic GPS, decent comm, and the training to use it and take advantage of it. That will put them head and shoulders above any Syrians or Iranians that come bumbling across the border in military formation. If it’s a truly massive attack where M1s would make a difference over the T-72s, US airpower will be there to lower the hammer anyway. If politically we don’t want to use airpower to defend our new ally in the ME (because they aren’t our ally any longer, for instance) then the last thing we’d want is them equipped with M1s anyway.

  5. I highly doubt we’d leave behind any M1s or M2/3s. Those are some seriously expensive pieces of equipment. And I don’t think our Army has enough of them to just give them away. We have to keep our own units equipped, and it’s going to be a good long time before the FCS is fielded, if ever.

  6. I don’t see any benifit in eqiping them with M-1’s. I am sure there are some old M-60’s or M-48’s laying around they could have. There are modernization programs for each that would make them capable on the moderen battlefield. If they feel they need heavier armour then that let them make some deal for old Stalin tanks or Chieftens or something like that.

  7. So if we are worried about Iranian tanks or whatever: 1. what do they use 2. get the Iraqis the same. In the mean time …. no M1’s I hate it when we run up against our own stuff. Even the Russians build ‘for export only’ equipment that was not as good as what they kept for themselves. There was a reason for that.

  8. The Air Force should buy some russian SU-30s. They spanked the F-16s in the recent COPE 2005. Maybe with all the outsourcing that the military does it should hire Indian pilots

  9. Are the Iraqi soldiers and police getting enough body armor? I’ve heard about shortages. And are they getting armored Humvees?

  10. M1s are obsolete. They’re not all that much better than T-72s, in fact probably worse. They have a 105mm gun whereas the M1A1, M1A2 and T-72 all have 120mm or 125mm. The M1 also has less advanced armour (for example, lacks the uranium panel) than the M1A1 or M1A2. 3,273 M1s were built for the US and 4,796 M1A1s. Something like 600 of the M1s were upgraded to M1A2 standard. That leaves roughly 2,673 M1s. If only 600 were upgraded, there’s little chance many of those will be useful. I don’t see the problem of giving them away. raw info here

  11. Thats a good point Nick. There underguned and underarmoured compared to the m-1a1 and a2. Still I just don’t like it. I think those t-72’s will do just fine.

  12. Those fuel tanks are dangerous. At the Battle of Um Hujul, Marine LAV-25’s were able to disable several Iraqi tanks (not sure if T-62’s or 72’s) by shooting up the fuel barrels with their chain guns. The fuel spilled over the back-end of the tanks and was ignited by tracers. The crews bailed out and abandoned them. I suppose that if they had been trained to the standards of our Boy Scouts, they would have dropped the tanks as soon as contact was reported.

  13. Are the Iraqi soldiers and police getting enough body armor? I’ve heard about shortages.And are they getting armored Humvees? This is easy to answer. The Iraqi army has body armor and uniforms and everthing else they need to equip an army. When the units get do they issue it to the soldiers? Sometimes! Are Iraqis hard on equipment? Yes! They have no disapline or NCOs to keep order. Yes the Irqi Army is getting armormed Humvees. They dont use them like they should. They would rather mount a machine gun in the back of a Chevy Silverado and drive it around. Why should we keep providing them expensive Humvees if they would rather drive around in a Silverado. How do I know this? beause I work with them everyday and have photos to prove it.