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Naval Forces of the Republic of Iraq. Part 3

January 24, 2014
<p>Naval Forces of the Republic of Iraq. Part 3</p>

Andrey Pospelov, Candidate of historical sciences, Professor of the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of Odessa I. Mechnikov National University.

Part 1. Naval Forces of the Republic of Iraq. On the Way Towards Independence

Part 2. The Logistical Component and Its Developmentn

 

Part 3. Originality of Combat Training of the Iraqi Navy

Modern Navies of the Republic of Iraq were created on the fundamental principles adopted, first of all in the USA (to a lesser extent in the UK). This can be seen even in such formal things as uniforms and official ceremonies scenarios. However, since early 1980s, a significant portion of the Iraqi Navy officers had been trained in Italy, mostly in the Naval Academy in Livorno (Accademia Navale di Livorno). As a result, it is this set that had a significant influence on the world view of at least the Iraqi Naval officer corps, who, unlike the Army Commanders, are based on the realization of their if not exceptional, then at least a sign role, both, in the Armed Forces, and in the Iraqi society as a whole. At the same time, the voluntary principle of manning the Iraqi Navy with ranks and junior officers, high material and preferential stimulation of their service, also makes itself felt - Iraqi sailors love and value their work.

The Naval Academy

The Naval Academy (L'Accademia Navale di Livorno)
http://italia-ru.com/

At this, the key to creating a combat-ready Iraqi Navy was the American Commandment's desire to form albeit limited in number, but relatively efficient military structure capable of accurate and efficient fulfilling the functions assigned to it under the conditions of realization of a particular potential enemy – the IRI's Navy. In these conditions, it was extremely important to ensure regular patrolling of the most vulnerable element of the Iraqi maritime infrastructure - oil export complex in the Faw Peninsula. To achieve this with a limited number of the ship-boat composition was possible only radically intensifying its combat use. In fact, it was a question of patrol boats of Iraq's constantly being at sea - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At this, from the beginning American staff officers saw clearly that the limited material resources would not allow the Iraqi Navy in the foreseeable future to take over complete control of the patrol area entrusted to it. That's why their military training from the very beginning was planned not so much individually as in joint with the USA, the UK and especially Kuwait and other countries' Navies' fighting compounds. However, in any case, part of the already not enough ship-boat composition of the Iraqi Navy will have to be detracted from combat (patrol) functions for training purposes. To the Iraqi sailors themselves and their Commanders, it was more than obvious that on sea they can count only on themselves. The young Air Force of the country have virtually no combat aircrafts, and their helicopter park, which only in 2013 began to be supplemented with purchased in Russia combat helicopters (36 Mi-28NE and 6 Mi-35M ), is running, and will continue to operate only  over “ground”.

Already the first multinational trainings involving the restored Iraqi Navy, conducted in March 2005, showed the effectiveness of the conceptual basis of the adopted for the Iraqi Navy system of strengthening, organization and training. And although in these trainings Iraqi sailors participated ​​mainly as observers, their Commanders and Supervisors from the United States Navy did make necessary conclusions (in the trainings were involved 19 combat and support units of the USA, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Pakistan's Navies, with a total strength of 3.000 people).

Officers of the British Navy, who were supervising at that time preparations of the Iraqi sailors for the trainings, were pointing out that the level of corruption in the Iraqi Navy, despite the significance of finance allocated by the government and allies for the maintenance and equipping of the Navy, was very low, compared with the Armed Forces of Iraq in general. And therefore the adopted system of recruitment and training has proved right. Adopted system as the basis for the organization of the Iraqi Navy system is universal in terms of expanding the number of both, personnel and ship- boat fleet. All this made it possible to expand the zone of responsibility of the Iraqi Navy, as the need for strong Iraqi Navy to protect ports and oil platforms was “rather self-evident” (Royal Navy Lieutenant Andrew Livsey). In the future, it was the matter of increasing the level of response to emerging threats and speed of the missions.

According to the Deputy Commander of the Iraqi Navy Brigadier (Commander) Muhammad Jawad's words, said by him in April 2005, the emphasis in improving the combat training of the Iraqi Navy was placed on the qualitative improvement of individual training of “every person in my fleet” and on “maintaining a high rate of operations” and actions at night. At this, the main incentive for the Iraqi Navy servicemen was the prospect of a “good future”, according to the results of a great passage of training and strict fulfillment of their professional duties. And although, M. Javad Navy used to call the Navy of the country “sister of the Army and Police in the matters of country's security”, he, in fact, meant that the Iraqi Naval Forces in the foreseeable future would act solely independently. Interestingly, it was exactly then that Iraqi officers stated about their desire to operate independently, as a direct consequence of the ever-expanding zone of ​​responsibility of the country's Navy. And those were not just words.

Already in September 2011, Rear Admiral N. Kelvin Dixon, from the United States responsible for training the Iraqi Navy, said, “Today they (the Iraqis) patrol and protect oil terminals is very well, better than we expected and better than some of their neighbors”. “Already now they patrol 80% of the area of their ​​responsibility, but in the nearest future they will cope with the other 20%”. In fact, in early 2013 they did.

American Admiral also told about other sides of actions of Iraqi sailors. According to him, Iraqi crews stay at sea for up to 4 days (in 2013 this figure had been reduced to 7 boats and 14 patrol ships), while all their neighbors — only a few hours. At this, he noted that the level of attacks on oil platforms is very low and for the Iraqi Navy's opponents “to attack a ground oil object is much easier than to attack an offshore oil platform”. Admiral also described an element of a routine combat operation of Iraqi sailors: “Iranians are on their boats in the area of ​​Iraqi oil platforms in an effort to identify the Iraqi response mechanism. Iraqis also constantly accompany these boats and expel them from the protected area. In this regard, the Iraqis have done a phenomenal job”.

Of course, such actions undoubtedly bring honor to Iraqi sailors. However, to be fair, we should be note that similar operations were carried out at the edge of the limit of capabilities, at least of the equipment, which is in service in the Iraqi Navy. Thus, Iraq's Navy's basic and most modern patrol boats from “Swiftships” firm are able to develop a maximum speed of 34 knots, while keeping the autonomy for up to 5 days. Small speed boats (motor boats actually) of the Defender type, although able to act with speed up to 46 knots, but have virtually no autonomy (up to a day at sea). At this, the total number of all patrol units of the Iraqi Navy in operational use does not exceed 50 and they act solely from Umm Qasr. In its turn, the Iranian Navy has only 30 large missile boats, with a cruising speed of 34 to 45 knots and at least 30 small and midget submarines. However, the basis of the Iranian Navy is primarily small high-speed missile (both, with ASM and with MRL) and torpedo boats of various projects. Their speed is not less than 50 knots, and the number of such units is variously estimated from 200 to 600. At this, they operate from the many points of basing, some of which are directly adjacent to the Iraqi border. As a consequence, it can take these boats a few minutes to get to the oil terminals.

Under these conditions, the achieved by ​​the spring of 2013 level of training of the Iraqi Navy providing for sailors' actions to the limit, and even above the autonomy of their ships and boats, continuous combat duty, both at sea and at the base, regardless of time of day and weather conditions, crew rotation system (in fact, like on  FBMS of great countries), in the presence of a permanent reserve of ships and boats allocated for joint trainings with allies or some operations, could not respond to the ever- growing power of the Iranian Navy. But at the same time, such a level was reached by the Iraqi Navy within just 8-9 years — of which in all its power and the multiplicity, the Iranian Navy could not boast. Besides, we should take into consideration a purely psychological factor. Indeed, paradoxically as it may seem, but national character of both, Arabs and Persians, never in history has demonstrated anything like this. To Iranian Navy who for a quarter of the century have been sharpened for actions in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, against the most serious in the current situation enemy - in fact the U.S. Navy, the experience of combat training of Iraqi sailors, in fact, until recently having been well-trained by Americans, is more than important.

As for the Iraqi Navy Commandment, the most urgent task today is to strengthen the material component. In the situation when the country's Navy actually are on actually independent level of combat operations, training and potentially promising activity.

Prospects of Development

It is obvious that the created with the help of the USA new Naval Forces of Iraq, though the smallest in size component of the restored Armed Forces, however, by their armament (ship-boat composition) can be considered among the most advanced in the Persian Gulf region. At the same time, the Iraqi Navy still isn't fully autonomous. And it's not so much the matter of their being operatively subject to the Joint Central Commandment of U.S. forces. The main reason is just that being equipped with patrol boats, ships and motor boats they more or less successfully can perform their tasks only in peacetime. During the period of hostilities, ships and boats of the Iraqi Navy, completely devoid of impact weapons and special antiaircraft and antisubmarine warfare, would obviously be quickly destroyed either in the sea, or, taking into consideration the extreme vulnerability of their bases and home - directly in their waters. At this, Navies of Iran and Kuwait are equally dangerous for the Iraqi Navy. Moreover, since mid-2013 the Iraqi Navy has had new opponents. They are the dramatically strengthening its military capabilities Saudi Arabia, which has announced its plans of creation a federal state, by combining the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, and Qatar, whose leaders, having felt their political power as a result of interference into the civil war in Syria, have begun to revitalize their naval policy in the above-mentioned waters.

It is clear that due to the physico-geographical and political situation of the Iraqi Republic, to protect their own naval bases is much more difficult than to create a Navy, having a striking component. Hence are so obvious the conclusions to which in 2013 came the Commandment of the Iraq’s Navy – activation of cooperation with the IRI's Navy, and not just – but with the marine component of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. However, this is only a half measure, and quite a shaky one at that, for in case of deterioration in US-Iranian relations in the region, the Republic of Iraq and its Naval Forces would be hostages of an extremely dangerous military-political situation. Despite the constant joint trainings with the Navy of Kuwait (under the auspices of the USA), Iraqi leaders have little hopes for a small but having missile boats navy of Kuwait.

In these circumstances, the military and political leadership of Iraq is probing the ground for construction no later than 2015 of series of the latest missile boats, buying coastal missile systems of mobile type, naval aviation, and a dramatic expansion of the country's Marine Corps' combat capabilities. To date, the prior agreement for the construction of the Iraqi Navy missile boat division (5 units) have already expressed related structures in Italy, Germany, France and China. In the long term (by 2020), it is also possible that the Iraqi government will purchase for the country's Navy missile ships (corvettes) with great potential and impact radius of action (2-4 units). At this, in all cases, the option of anti-ship missile is made - this is a well-established in the “Saddam's” Iraqi Navy French Exocet, though, now its latest modification of MM-40 blok 3. At the same time, questions about purchasing for Iraqi Air Force tactical fighters (jet trainer-combat aircraft), has been constantly linked with equipping them with anti-ship missiles, with a range of at least 100 km. The problem is that since 2009 until the end of 2013 had been seen no progress in this direction (were being considered the variants of the American F-16IQ and of Czech L-159).

Another type of warships, the acquisition of which for the Iraqi Navy has been actively considered since 2011, is mine-sweeping ships. Where and in what quantities those minesweepers were supposed to be built, was not reported. However, in the situation cooperation agreements with the IRI's Navy, the idea is becoming a far future. In the sphere of naval aviation, which the Republic of Iraq is still going to create, by 2015, it is planned to acquire a squadron of search and rescue helicopters (at least 8 units), as well as at least one base patrol aircraft or observation aircraft, by its type included in the coastal protection of the leading countries of the world (not excluded  an option of conversion to maritime functions of the 1-2 delivered to Iraq in 2012, Ukraine's military transport aircrafts An-32B). Apparently, these aircrafts will be equipped with attack missile weapons.

A unique consequence of the military-political situation prevailing around Iraq since the spring of 2013 has become quite an original approach of its government to arms purchases, indirectly related to the Navy. Thus, in April 2013, a contract was signed with the Russian Federation (“Rostvertol”) for the delivery of six combat helicopters Mi-35M (in addition to the same number of helicopters, contracted in 2012). At this, the contract was made ​​unexpectedly quickly. Already in October, all helicopters were built and by the end of December 2013 they arrived in Iraq. December 12, 2013, Iraqi Defence Ministry signed a contract with the Republic of Korea (company “Korea Aerospace Industries” (KAI)) to supply for the Air Force of the country 24 trainer-combat aircrafts/light fighters T-50IQ Golden Eagle. All the aircrafts must be built by April 2016, and then delivered to Iraq within 12 months. Besides, in 2014 an agreement is going to be signed on servicing 20-25 aircrafts.

In both contracts two circumstances are remarkable. Firstly, it is rather limited terms of their implementation. Secondly, it is signing of special contracts for the supply of weapons and additional equipment. At this, judging by the amount of these contracts (almost 50 and almost 400 million US dollars, respectively), here are meant means for fighting, various marine targets included. All this though not directly, but still shows the desire of the military leadership of Iraq, to cover up their Navy from the air and this way to partially block a potential threat from neighbors.

Signing by the South Korean corporation “Korea Aerospace Industries” (KAI) and Defence Ministry of Iraq of the Agreement to supply the Iraqi Air Force with 24 trainer aircrafts/light fighters KAI T-50IQ

Signing by the South Korean corporation “Korea Aerospace Industries” (KAI) and Defence Ministry of Iraq of the Agreement to supply the Iraqi Air Force with 24 trainer aircrafts/light fighters KAI T-50IQ. Baghdad, 12/12/2013
http://bmpd.livejournal.com

Due to the accumulated experience of the modern Iraqi Navy, soon they are supposed to significantly expand capabilities of Marines. In particular, is being considered creation of two or even three Marine Brigades. At this, one of the Brigades will be caring about the safety of offshore drilling platforms and oil export terminals, and its individual units will act as boarding parties on patrol ships and boats of the Iraqi Navy. The second Brigade will provide protection of ports and naval bases of the country, as well as serve as a coastal defence. The same tasks, perhaps, will be imposed on the third Brigade.

Cannot be excluded a scenario of creation of three Marine Brigades in Iraq based on the historical experience of 1980s. According to it, two Brigades will be directly under the Commandment of the Navy of the country to ensure the defence of the coast, because in case of military danger, they may be used as an attack component at the coastal sector or zone of marshland. For example, in the delta of the Shatt al-Arab River or in the marsh area of Majnoon. The third Brigade will be part of special operations forces of the country (as it was in 1980s when a similar unit was part of the Iraqi Republican Guard) and only operationally will be subordinated to the Naval Forces of the Republic of Iraq.

So, 2013 was for the Iraqi Navy the period of transition to the operational, political and technical independence. Its Commandment (and indirectly the government) managed by diplomatic methods to succeed in removing most realistic and potentially important for the economy and the economic stability of the country danger, posed by the Naval Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. At this, despite a number of tensions with Washington, relations with the United States and its regional military - Joint Central Commandment also remained at an acceptable level for the official Baghdad. But most importantly, in 2013 the Iraqi Navy demonstrated its dramatically increased opportunities, not only in terms of comparison to the period of President Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but in comparison with its nearest neighbors. At this, the Iraqi Navy have actually turned out to be the most advanced military force, both in terms of training, and the level of technological development. In fact, the success of purchases of high-tech combat equipment by Iraq in 2013, was just a consequence of accelerating development of the country' Navy.

However, the military-political situation around the Republic of Iraq as it was in 2013, showed significant problems in the creation of the national Navy. Realistically, 2013 showed that in Iraq, almost from scratch they managed to create modern and capable Naval Forces at relatively low material costs and all in less than 9 years. But the Navy was created for peacetime!

Under the changes (or actually worsening) of the military-strategic situation in the Persian Gulf, there is a need not only to deepen the autonomy (up to full independence) of the Navy of the Republic of Iraq, but also to significantly strengthen their combat potential. Buying ships and boats equipped with attack missile weapons, as well as creation of an appropriate aviation group capable of operating over the sea area was manifested clearly. In fact, slowly but surely, is going on a return to the concept of a “regional” or “large” fleet, which the Iraqi government, led by the executed President Saddam Hussein, had been actively developing since late 1970s till early 1990s.

However, even by the most conservative estimates, the cost and time frame of this process will be at least identical to what in terms of the construction the national Navy of the Republic of Iraq has already gone through during last decade. And this is only after overcoming a kind of “transition” period, under which Western experts understand 2013-2015. Creation of a truly powerful Iraqi Navy, albeit with a limited, but still potential attack potential, may occur no earlier than 2025. But in any case, regardless of the development of the situation,  after  2015 the Iraqi Navy will be able to find truly independent status and capabilities, exceeding  the functions of patrolling the coast, the state river border, territorial waters and the 200-mile economic zone of the country.

 

Appendix 1

Table of the dynamics of growth of ship-boat composition of the Iraqi Navy in 2005-2025 period.

Type of boat (ship\vessel )/years

2005

2008

2012

2015

2020

2025

HF URO

 

 

 

 

2

2-4

RCA

 

 

 

 

5

5-10

PCA PCC 53.4-meter Fatah (Saettia)

 

 

4

4

4

4

RCA RS Predator 81

5

5

5

[5]

[5]

-

RCA RS Al Uboor

2

[2]

[2]

-

-

-

RCA RS Al-Faw

2

6

6

[6]

[6]

-

PC RCA 15-meter Type 200 (former Coastguard boats Italy )

 

 

2

2

2

[2] 

PC RCA 35-meter Swiftships

 

 

11

12

12

12

SMEs (C) OSV Al Shams

 

1

1

[1]

-

-

SMEs (C) OSV Al Basrah

 

 

2

2

2

2

TIH

 

 

 

 

 

3-5

PKA (p, m) PBR 15 –Meter

 

 

 

(15)

(20 )

(30)

PKA (p, m ) PBR 12.5-Meter Type 2010 ( former Coastguard boats Italy )

 

 

4

4

4

[4]

PKA (p, m ) PBR 9.5-Meter Seaspray

 

 

24

24

24

-

PKA (p, m ) PBR 7.7-meter Defender (former U.S. Coastguard boat)

 

26

26

26

26

-

PKA (p, m) PBR RHIBS

5

10

10

10

10

10

Notes:

2 - the number of ships/boats that are combat part of the fleet;

[2] - the number of ships/boats, auxiliary vessels in reserve for conservation or not able-bodied;

(20) - the number of boats planned for construction and commissioning into the combat fleet.

HF URO - corvettes with guided missiles;

PC - patrol boats built for the Coast Guard functions (PCC - Patrol Craft Customs);

RSA - missile boats (PG - Patrol Guide);

RCA - patrol boats (large) (RS - Patrol Craft);

PKA (p, m) - small or river patrol boats (motor boats) (PBR - Patrol Boat River);

TIH - trawlers (inshore or base);

SMEs (C) - support vessels (supply) (OSV - Offshore Support Vessels).

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