Today Alex continues our Oil War coverage with a look at the Iraqi’s in the new Team Yankee book, Oil War.
With the release of Oil War, we now have access to 4 new factions in Team Yankee: Israel, Syria, Iran and Iraq. With WWIII moving to the Persian Gulf, the Iraqis and their US allies need all the help they can get to fend off the Iranians with their Soviet allies.
That’s right! Iraq fields a force using Soviet and French equipment, and get support from NATO. I know, I know, crazy to hear that after many NATO countries and the US in particular fought not one but two wars against Iraq. However, the 1980s were strange times. The Gipper was the man in the White House, and the Iranians had gone and done a crazy little thing overthrowing their government and took a bunch of US hostages. So, when the Iran-Iraq War (The timeframe setting for Oil War) kicked off the US backed Saddam Hussein since we were not too happy with the Iranians.
World War 3 makes for some strange bedfellows.
That being said, I will review the forces of the Iraqi Army covered in the book. As stated above, due to the politics of the times you can find Iraqis cruising around the desert with Soviet Tanks, French APCs, and air support from good ole’ Uncle Sam.
Force Chart and Initial Assessment
The Iraqis come in the typical Team Yankee options of Tank Formations or Mechanized Infantry Formations. The Tanks come in T72, T62, and T55 flavors and the infantry come in BMPs or BTRs (though the BTRs have an interesting option I will cover later). Support has options for Artillery, Recon, Flak, Air Support, and ATGM. I will cover each category in turn.
The Iraqi Army of the 1980s was not a model of efficiency or particularly well trained. Primarily based off conscription, officers were politically appointed and the army suffered from centralized control. The average Iraqi Soldier was not particularly motivated either. Even the elite, the divisions of the Republican Guard, were more political troops than a fighting elite. This is reflected in overall morale ratings of 4+ and Skill of 5+ across the board. Don’t expect miracles out of these men!
Special rules are the usual; Hammerhead, Bazooka Skirts, etc. There is a new rule for vintage flak vehicles like the ZSU-57: Manual Tracking, which incurs a +1 to hit penalty when shooting at Strike Aircraft.
The Iraqi Army primarily used Soviet designed tanks, and this comes across in their tank formations.
Each has options for a single battalion HQ tank, two to three tank companies, a mechanized infantry company and a unit of self propelled AAA. Iraqi centralized control, to a degree far beyond even the Soviet norm, is shown by the formations lacking in-formation scouts and artillery.
The first tanks encountered are the T62s. The tank has similar stats with the older Iraqi T55 except those replace to the T62’s 115mm smoothbore gun (AT 19 vs AT16 and the T62 has Brutal) though interestingly the T62 lacks any sort of bazooka skirts.
The T55 are a real bargain, yet bear in mind these are not the same thing as the Warsaw Pact T55AM2, lacking modern amenities such as a LRF (laser rangefinder) or stabilizer. They do have the option of being upgraded with bazooka skirts to reflect the Chinese Type 69, visually similar to the T-55 excepting the addition of skirts, that Iraq purchased.
Finally, we have the Iraqi T72M which is the best tank available to the Iraqis and compares reasonably well with the WarPact tank of the same type, as well as the Iranian opposition. This is as close as Saddam’s troops get to a top tier MBT. Historically, the most prevalent type amongst the Iraqi Army was the T55 and T62, with the T72 going to the Republican Guard units.
The self propelled AAA consists of ZSU 57-2 and ZSU-23-4 Shilka. The tank options allow you to go horde with T62 or T55, or lesser numbers but better quality with the T72 which overall allows some flexibility with playstyle.
Once again the reliance on Soviet equipment shows, with the Iraqis fielding BMP-1s and BTRs, amongst others.
The BMP-1 formation reflects the Soviet model, with HQ, two to three Mechanized Infantry Companies, a Tank Company, SPAAA, ATGW and an artillery unit. The BMP-1 and infantry have similar stats to other infantry using soviet weaponry, with an SA7 MANPAD option available, but lacking RPG18 and underslung grenades to bolster the AK-47 and RPG-7 teams firepower.
The BTR company is similar, to an extent. You have option to once again field a SA7 missile team and transport, as well as an AT3 Sagger Team with transport and also replace any or all BTRs with the Czech OT64 at no cost.
However, the real gem of the BTR company is the option to replace all BTRs with French Built AMX-10P IFV, and/or skip the Sagger and take a Milan team (three posts on one stand, like the Sagger)! Like the French, you can mount the Milan on three transports instead of having the missile team.
Overall, I think this option allows a good IFV option to run in lieu of BMP-2s. This is a formation I foresee being quite popular, with a lot of flexibility to mix and match elements.
Here is where I really think the flavor if the Iraqi Force shines. While being supplied by the Soviet Union during the Iran-Iraq War, there was a period where the French sold billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Iraqis. This shows in the sheer amount of support options available to the Iraqi player. In the realm of artillery, the Iraqis have options for 2S1, Acacia, Hail Rocket Launchers, or the AMX Auf1 (complete with autoloader!). You can take up to three of these together, only having to choose between the Acacia or AMX. The observer is mounted in a BTR60.
The sole scout option are BRDMs.
Anti-Tank units consist of Spandrel or French VCR HOT (Hammerhead!), the latter providing the dual benefts of a long ranged AT23 missile and an elevating “hammerhead” launcher that goes ome ways to mitigating the “hit on 3+”.
For the SAM umbrella, you can choose between Gaskin, Gopher, Gecko or French AMX Roland.
Helicopters come in Hind or Gazelle HOT flavors. Interestingly, you can take both as there are two boxes, both allowing an “or” choice! Hinds flying around with HK Gazelles? Yes, please! Finally, strike air comes in US A-10 Warthogs or AV-8A Harriers. I’m sure the Iraqis will appreciate not being on the end of the BRRRRRRRT! for a change.
Overall, the flexibility is the name of the game with the Iraqis. You have so many options to mix & match. While the quality of the troops is (rightly) not the greatest, the sheer amount of options allows you to go for a force that suits your playstyle.
Missile storms? Check.
Cannon fodder with a powerful allied reserve? Check.
As an American who watched Desert Storm on CNN as a youngster, then did three stints as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and worked directly with Iraqis, this list is near and dear to my heart.
I wonder what it would have been like if the adversaries of the Battle of 73 Easting were allies instead. Hmm, speaking of…
100 pts Iraqi Tawakalna Republican Guard Division w/ US 1st Armored Division Support
Formation 1: 3rd Tawakalna Al Allah Division
Battalion HQ – 1x T72M 3pts
Tank Company 1: 6x T72M 16 pts
Tank Company 2: 6x T72M 16 pts
Mechanized Infantry Company: 10 pts
7x AK47 Team, 1x RPG-7 Team, 1x SA7 Team, 1x Milan Team, 6x AMX-10P
SPAAA Platoon 4: 4x ZSU 57-2 2pts
Formation 2: US 1st Armored Division
Company HQ: 1x IPM1 9pts
Platoon 1: 3x IPM1 27 pts
Platoon 2: 2x IPM1 18 Pts
Formation Support: 4x BRDM-2 Scout 2 pts
So grab your copy of Oil War, and take the battle to the sands of Iraq!