News: First shipment of Iraqi-purchased M1A1 tanks arrives
BAGHDAD - The first shipment of M1A1 Abrams tanks arrived today at the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq. This initial delivery of 11 is the first of 140 systems that will be delivered throughout the coming year as part of a foreign military sales agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
The tanks will be transferred to Iraqi control at the Besmaya Combat Training Center and are programmed for integration into the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division located in central Iraq.
The delivery of these tanks is part of a larger, comprehensive program to modernize Iraq’s conventional defense capabilities.
“This represents a significant milestone for the Iraqi Army as we approach the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, United States Forces - Iraq Deputy Commanding General for Advising and Training. “These tanks will strengthen the Iraqi Army’s ability to protect the sovereignty of Iraq. And a stable and secure Iraq that can protect itself will be a stabilizing force in the region.”
The U.S. and Iraqi Armies collaboratively developed a training program in 2009 to help familiarize Iraqi crewmembers with the Abrams tank in anticipation of the Iraqi tanks’ arrival. Sixty-five crews are already trained. Iraqi crewmembers are also scheduled to receive a complete new equipment training package in conjunction with the fielding of the tanks.
“This is the centerpiece, the key enabler, of the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division,” said Lt. Col. Willie Roseman, USF-I (A&T)’s Iraqi Army Modernization Program Manager. “The delivery of the M1A1s will lay a strong foundation of modern external defense capabilities for the Iraqi Army.”
The remaining 129 tanks and seven recovery vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in similar increments on a monthly basis until about December 2011.