Monday, November 6, 2006

Missing Iraqi Weapons

Every one hears a lot about thousands of missing American weapons in Iraq. Today I came across some images taken by regime's news agency IRNA during last week military exercises by IRGC.

In these image, two IRGC riflemen are carrying M-16s and in the other photo another IRGC soldiers is carrying an M-16 plus he is wearing advance combat helmet.

I believe these can be the very same American weapons missing in Iraq and now they ended up with Iran's revolutionary guards through their Iraqi proxies.

According to my sources, these weapons are being produced by Iranian defense industries but the fact is I never saw M-16s with the regular army during my military service and the official Iranian armed forces rifle is German made G-3 which has been in service with Iranian armed services since late 1960s and produced under license from the German manufacturer ever since. Official IRGC and Basij rifle is Russian AK-47 and throughout my military service in the regular army, I never saw any American rifles though. So the question is how did IRGC get these M-16s and American looking helmets? There may be a strong possiblity that these weapons transfered to Iran through regime's proxies in Iraq.

What do you think?
Update 1: I am understanding that some versions of M-16 known as Iranian KH-2002 is being produced in Iran under Chinese Norinco license.


Joe Katzman said...

The relevant weapons contract re: Iraqi forces ordering M-16s/M4s is here.

The DSCA request was issued Sept 19, 2006 and Congress has a period in which they can block the sale. This is true for all foreign military sales - unless they are blocked within 30 days, they go through and contracts can be issued. See the process here.

There is no previous DSCA request for M-16s to Iraq, and to my knowledge (which may be wrong) Iraq's armed forces had exclusively used AK-family rifle designs up until this point. My supposition when I saw this order (which hasn't really had much time to be fulfilled, and may not even be in Iraq yet) was that some Iraqi forces wanted a ready way of differentiating themselves from the all-too-common impostors by going to American weapons rather than the AKs which so many private citizens have at home.

I believe it unlikely that the M-16s came via Iraq, simply because the timelines mean that the Iraqis aren't likely to have them yet and US weapons are kept under rather more security. Of course, there's lots of ways to get M-16s abroad... Venezuela had a bunch, for instance, and just signed a major deal with Russia for AK-74s.

The benefits to the Iranians of using M-16s is minimal... they do require rather more maintenance than the AKs. This may explain their issue to the IRGC as opposed to, say, the Basij. But the changes in ammunition caliber and associated supply chain issues make the switch unjustifiable even for the IGRC's alternative army organization, and the tactical benefits are questionable.

The most likely explanation involves various forms of deception in theater, which could have applications from Iraq to Afghanistan and even Persian Gulf countries and/or Iran itself if tensions with the USA rise high enough. For instance, as just a few ideas:

[1] If they have a supply, whether manufactured on their own or via third-party suppliers, they can feed them into Iraq as part of their destabilization efforts, so Iraqis continue to have trouble telling friend from foe.

[2] The equipment also has potential uses in Afghanistan - if I was in command, I might have IRGC units cause local trouble and kill people dressed as Americans and using M-16s, then have agents incite the locals before the Americans are forced to move in and quell the reported disturbances. That's a riskier strategy, but possible in various scenarios where the cost of being found out is less than the value of the level of trouble caused.

[3] This sort of equipment has obvious "Battle of the Bulge" type uses for IRGC units who plan to venture out in American uniforms within Iran & beyond, in the event of an American attack or triggering orders from the mullahs. Most observers believe that US bases through the region would be struck, and this may well be part of the planned 'how.'

Militaries tend to get a complacent over time, and forget past lessons learned. Have the Americans forgotten this one? One hopes they haven't, and that they're preparing hard for these kinds of scenarios.

Winston said...

Thanks for the valuable comment, Joe.

Tina said...

I don't think it's possible to keep thing like this from happening when they are so close and there is so much cross border activity.

These could be the real deal or they could be copies or, as Joe said, they could have been furnished by a third party. The important thing is, that we know they have them.

Aryamehr said...

Well i'm sure the Islamic Republic's new Shiite partners in Iraq wouldn't mind sparing a few hundred weapons for their masters in Tehran!

In a way i'm sad that Saddam is gone and the Shiite's are back in control! On the other hand i'm glad that he is being punished for the Iranian blood he shed during the Iran-Iraq war; however I would have preferred placing him in a cage on display in Tehran Zoo instead of hanging! At least for a couple of months/years...

SERENDIP said...

Great post.

Iran called his puppet, Nassarallh today in Lebanon to strike Israel.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Interestingly. When Israeli PM Olmert went to Moscow, Putin maintained that Hezbollah was armed pre-dominantly with Us and Israeli weapons.

Here's the Jerusalem Post article.