Cablegate: Country Team Assessment - M1a1 Main Battle Tanks


DE RUEHGB #2131/01 1910735
P 090735Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is an action request, please see paragraph 13.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The U.S Embassy Country Team has
reviewed and concurs with the Letter of Request (LOR) from
the Government of Iraq (GOI) for the equipping of four
regiments of the Iraqi Army (IA) with an export version of
the M1A1 main battle tank (MBT) via Foreign Military Sales
(FMS). Each regiment will have 35 MBTs and the IA will retain
an addition 20 MBTs for national reserve (total sale is 160
MBTs). These armored units are included in the Ministry of
Defense (MOD) Force Modernization Plan which will transform
Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) from a limited counter-insurgency
force into a more robust self-defense force over the next
decade. The GOI will use this equipment to provide for its
own security and defend against the insurgent threat. The
plan includes provisions for equipping, training, and basing
and will have a significant positive impact on the
improvement of the Iraqi Armed Forces. With the expansion of
the ISF, these tanks will enhance the Iraqis' ability to
identify and confront known threats, thereby reducing the
requirement for direct Coalition Force (CF) engagement. End

Security Goals

3.(SBU) This purchase supports the modernization and
generation of four armored IA units or regiments with 35
tanks each, plus a national logistics reserve of 20 tanks.
Additionally, since these armored units themselves are not
all encompassing, they will require the assistance of motor
transport regiments and third and fourth line maintenance
facilities to move long distances and to fix, repair, or
replace equipment. The four regiments will be assigned to
existing Iraqi Army divisions to be identified at a later
date. The Iraqi Armed Forces (ISF) are projected to
integrate the acquisition of this equipment with trained
personnel after 2009 in order to offset U.S. and Coalition
Force (CF) requirements. The Embassy Country Team supports a
full and immediate release of the required equipment, and the
building of facilities and ranges; as well as any required
training for officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers
to establish these organizations and operate this equipment.


4. (SBU) The generation and fielding of these units will
enhance Iraq's development of a force capable of assuming the
lead role in internal offensive and defensive missions,
securing the nation of Iraq, ensuring the security of the
Iraqi population, and countering the existing insurgency.
Regarding the latter, the MBT's considerable armor protects
against the small arms and light weapons most commonly
available to the insurgent forces, including rocket propelled
grenades. With this armored protection, MBTs help a combined
arms team to outmatch insurgents decisively. The MBT's main
gun and assortment of machine guns provide shock effect and
firepower for the combined arms team. MBTs and infantry are
mutually supporting in the urban combat that has been typical
of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq. In a recent example,
MNF-I employed MBTs to protect construction crews building
security walls in Sadr City from sniper and RPG threats.

CENTCOM Concurrence

5. (SBU) The Combatant Commander,s (CENTCOM) assessment and
concurrence will be provided separately.

Anticipated Reaction from Neighbors

6. (SBU) The Country Team does not anticipate that the
development of these new units will adversely affect the
regional balance of power with neighboring nations or cause
negative reactions from other nations. This is based, in
part, by the current estimate of MBTs in the region, shown

Turkey - 4132
Israel - 3800
Iran - 1822
Saudi Arabia - 915 (of which 315 M1A2 and 73 M1A1)
Jordan - 835
Kuwait - 218 (of which 218 M1A2)
Iraq - 160 (after this proposed sale)

Technology Accountability and Responsibility


7. (SBU) Iraq has demonstrated both the intent and ability to
protect sensitive and classified military technology since
working with U.S. and Coalition Forces. The Foreign
Assistance Act, Section 505 agreement, signed by the GOI on
24 July 2004, demonstrates Iraq,s commitment to protect
grant defense articles and technology similar to our
standards. We will continue to monitor the GOI on their
protection of sensitive U.S. Government (USG) technology in
order to provide long-term security cooperation with Iraq.
We will obtain all necessary formal agreements with the GOI
before transferring any sensitive equipment or technology.
We will also continue to carry out a robust Enhanced End-Use
Monitoring (EEUM) program for equipping these armored units.
The Country Team understands that the following technologies
are classified or considered sensitive:

- Base Vehicle: M1A1 Abrams with Situational Awareness
(SA) Package
- Exportable version 2nd Generation Forward Looking
Infrared (FLIR) Gunners Primary Sight and Commander's
Integrated Thermal Viewer
- Non-Depleted Uranium Export Special Armor in sealed
modules and serialized removable subassemblies
- Selected releasable Tank Urban Survivability Kit (TUSK)
- Ammunition: 120mm APFSDS Tungsten and 120mm M830A1 HEAT

Iraq's Political Importance in the Region

8. (SBU) A stable, democratically-elected Iraqi government,
capable of protecting its people and sovereignty while
remaining at peace with its neighbors is one of the USG,s
highest priority foreign policy objectives. The establishment
and implementation of these force modernization units will
facilitate progress towards that goal by increasing the Iraqi
Army's ability to provide security and other key military
operations against anti-Iraqi forces, while significantly
reducing the risk to itself and others.

Source of Financing and Economic Impact

9. (SBU) This purchase will be financed by the GOI with Iraqi
national funds. The cost is estimated at $2.0 Billion
dollars CY2009 funds (as rough order of magnitude). We do
not envision that USG approval of this technology release
will in any way adversely affect either Iraqi or USG
programmed funding. There is no significant economic impact
based upon our analysis processes in anticipation of these
critical FMS cases.

Relevant Human Rights Considerations

10. (SBU) There are no human rights considerations that would
preclude the release of this equipment to the Iraqi military.

End Use Monitoring

11. (SBU) Sensitive items identified and described in
paragraph 7 are subject to end user monitoring as agreed upon
between host nation and the multi-national coalition forces
and alignment with the security assistance office policy and
procedures guidance.

Country Team Assessment

12. (SBU) The Country Team recommends the United States
Government approve the establishment of the four (4) force
modernization units and field 160 M1A1 main battle tanks.

Action Request

13. (SBU) The Embassy Country Team requests the Department
engage with the Deputy Secretary of the Army for Defense
Export Cooperation and other relevant offices to approve the
full and immediate release the creation and generation of the
four (4 force modernization units authenticated and signed by
the Iraqi Minister of Defense.

© Scoop Media

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