Iraq Army-how did they rank in the Middle East?


March 17, 2004, 02:29 AM
Was the Iraqi Army as good as most of the Arab forces over there, better than most, or sub-par? My non-military background leads me to question whether any fighting force over there is motivated enough (living in non-democratic cultures), and well trained enough to actually stand up to a force of Americans and British (and other western armies) in a battle. I know they have tanks, artillery, planes, and bombs, but those are separate elements of a greater force. Their technology is obviously way behind the curve, but could there be any situation where they could go "toe to toe" with a western force?

Working together, is there any Arab fighting force in the Middle East that is far superior to the Iraqi's, or would all of them end with the same result if they had to fight against the American military under similar conditions? I know all would lose, but would any, or could any, fare any better? I guess I wonder just how significant a test this Iraqi War has been to the Arab world, and whether or not any of the others think they would fight to a different outcome. geegee

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March 17, 2004, 03:04 AM
At the time of the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military was the fourth-largest in the world in terms of manpower, and equipped with a great deal of modern weaponry. However, things went downhill from there...

For current status of many of the world's armed forces, see here ( - there are useful background details as well.

March 17, 2004, 03:18 AM
A good question. I don't know the answer, but here are a few pointers.

TE Lawrence found that arabs made good guerrillas and fought well against the Turks. The Turks themselves have fought well against Brits (Kut, Gallipoli), ANZACs (Gallipoli), Koreans and Chinese (Korea), haven't they? (Not that the Turks are Arabs - I just mention them for comparison.)

Jordan's Arab Legion was trained and led by British officers at first and was probably the most effective force fighting against Israel in its day.

The Sultan of Oman's forces, again, trained and led by British officers and with a little help from the SAS, defeated a major Marxist insurrection mounted from neighbouring Yemen and ultimately financed and promoted by the USSR.

The Egyptian Army fought hard and well against Israel in the Yom Kippur war, having been well trained and motivated in preparation. However, it was beaten in the end - let down by its generals, I would say.

My limited experience and reading makes me think that Arabs are likely to make quite good soldiers if well led. Unfortunately for them, their own leaders (again in my limited experience) tend to be idle and fatalistic and to prefer style over substance. Add to this a general poverty of training in command at any but the lowest level and you have a recipe for armies that are not too difficult to beat.

March 17, 2004, 03:43 AM
Quality wise I think the Lebanese were the only Arab army to be considered competent. The Iraqi army was the most powerful and best equipped in the Arab world. I would say they were comparable in quality to the Syrians and Egyptians and far superior in quality to the Gulf States.

In the Battle for Khafji during DS a well equipped Saudi force engaged the Iraqis and totally got their butts kicked. But when the Marines showed up the battle went the other way around.

No army in the Middle East could go toe to toe with the US. But if they fought a defensive war centered around urban warfare they would do far better than Iraq in the second Gulf War as they were but a shadow of their former self by then.

But then US does not have the manpower to handle Syria and Iran simultantously right now with committments world wide.

March 17, 2004, 03:46 AM
I believe that the "will" to fight by the Iraq's military was taken away or deminished by our cruise missiles etc. They (cruise missiles) also destroyed a lot of the command structure of thier army. If it were not for there useage, our ground troops would have had a much more formable foe to contend with.
Even though we have superior fire power etc you will not always fare better than an inferior foe. Think of the anology of the man franticly fighting off allegators trying to remember his job is to drain the swamp.( Please forgive my spelling I'm tired and a little lazy)
My two cents worth.

March 17, 2004, 08:08 AM
As with most Middle East forces, the Iraqi army was a joke in comparison to Western forces. They had a lot of size, obsolescent equipment (for the most part) and totally lacked the discipline and will necessary to stand and fight. They collapsed overnight and surrendered en masse when confronted with assymetric warfare capabilities of the alliance(s). :rolleyes:

TFL Survivor

March 17, 2004, 08:26 AM
It seems to me that the Republican Guards were the only real motivated army first time around the sandbox. They were relatively well paid, had the better equipment and mostly believed in the idealogy. There just weren't enough of them to make a difference.

Talking with some Iraqis now in the U.S. and listening to interviews since Gulf War I most of the regular army was conscripted, poorly equipped, poorly supplied and motivated by fear and intimidation. Many of the leaders were corrupt and kept or sold much of what was supposed to be given to the troops.

Like Preacherman said, it went steeply downhill after that.

The second time around there seemed to be some pretty well equipped and trained guerillas, but I think their biggest problem was command and control. They fought fiercly and did well in small numbers, but could not coordinate large enough attacks to delay the inevitable.

March 17, 2004, 08:33 AM
I may have missed something in this last war but I don't believe we merely confronted Iraq with our might but literally shot the hell out of them before we had mass surrenders etc.

AJ Dual
March 17, 2004, 11:06 AM
Someone posted an excellent article on Middle Eastern militaries, and the experiences of U.S. officers training with friendly nations a few months ago.

They are extremely culture dominated, and everyone is so terriified of ridicule, shame, and failure that nothing gets done. To find the level of decision making and autonomy that one would find with a U.S. or British Seargant, you have to go all the way up to a Colonel in a Middle Eastern army. :eek: Everyone is so far into CYA mode, that everything is deferred to a higher ranking officer and so on...

And these are the militaries in the more "progressive" Mid-East states like Jordan. It's much worse in places where dictatorial rule presided or presides like Iraq.

March 17, 2004, 11:38 AM
Someone posted an excellent article on Middle Eastern militaries, and the experiences of U.S. officers training with friendly nations a few months ago.
It wasn't me, but this must be it:

Yeah, I guess this one pretty much sums it up. Thanks, geegee

March 17, 2004, 12:20 PM
I think the Israelis found uniformed Arab armies to be relatively easy to subdue; guerrillas (read Palestinians), however, are a very different story.

American military leaders are realizing pretty much the same thing with the Iraqis.

March 17, 2004, 01:44 PM
The American forces have complete control of the battlefield. Air, land, Sea. No one in the middle east can step up to that bar. Indeed, few around the globe can.

During the last conflict, I heard an American General talking about his next step in an offensive. He said the next day would be spent "preparing the battlefied". Then they would advance. In other words, sit and let air and sea power blow everything in front of them to smitherins, and then they would move forward and pick up the soveniers. Well not exactly like that, but there certainly will be enough instant fox holes to cover the troops.

Nobody on their side of the Mediteranian can compete with that. And don't it make you proud.:D

March 17, 2004, 02:48 PM
Clearly leadership plays a huge role.

Let's not forget, before the invasion, the TV news was full of stories about how Saddam Hussein was "cleverly" hiding his weapons inside schools and other buildings. Somehow that was supposed to deter the US military.

Great idea for storage--lousy idea for combat.

The history of warfare is about the concentration of force when & where it's needed, not dispersing it into widespread targets that the opposition can attack more or less at will and defeat in detail.

The results speak for themselves.

The scene of the Mig fighter being dug out from a sand berm tells the story in microcosm. A fighter jet buried under several tons of sand won't be shot down by a US F-16, but it won't defend anything, either.

March 17, 2004, 03:47 PM
Iraq army did lose to the Iranian Army during their long war... so much so that Saddam has to resort to poison gas.

I think that the Iraq Army is not the thing to worry about. The army to worry about are the Chicom army. That, I think, is the next thing we could face in the future.

March 17, 2004, 03:56 PM
The short answer to your question is simple.

No army in the world can stand up to American and British forces...period. Honestly, it's tough to come up with any reasonable combination of nations that could challenge the one two punch the lion and the eagle bring to the fight. It's hard enough to come up with a list that would have a prayer against America alone.

Kodiak AK
March 17, 2004, 04:22 PM
Chicom army is scary when you think about it .Due to rules of war and all that , all they have to do is engage , and surender , and we go bankrupt.

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