12 M1A1 Abrams tanks arrive in Iraq
BAGHDAD -- Another batch of 12 M1A1 Abrams tanks purchased by the government of Iraq from the United States arrived on Dec. 22 at Umm Qasr. Once the tanks are deprocessed, this will total 63 tanks integrated into the Iraqi Army.
The tanks will be transitioned to the Iraqis at the Besmaya Combat Training Center, said Army Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, the Iraq foreign military sales director with Project Manager Heavy Brigade Combat Team. Once fielded, he said, the Iraqi Army is expected to integrate the tanks into the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division, located in central Iraq.
"The delivery of these tanks is a significant milestone which begins to establish Iraq's conventional defensive capabilities," said United States Forces - Iraq Deputy Commanding General for Advising and Training U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero. "A secure and stable Iraq that has the capability to defend its sovereignty will be a stabilizing influence in the region."
The Iraqi Army and U.S. Army have been working together since 2009 to familiarize Iraqi tank crew members with the Abrams tank in anticipation of an expected arrival of 140 total tanks- 65 crews are already trained. Iraqi crew members are also scheduled to receive a new equipment training package in conjunction with the fielding of the tanks.
The government of Iraq purchased the equipment under a Foreign Military Sales agreement with the United States government. "We are proud to deliver the best tank in the world to our Iraqi counterparts," Bentzel said.
On December 10, 2008, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the sale under the Foreign Military Sales Program to the Government of Iraq. The case was for the procurement and upgrade of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks modified and upgraded to the M1A1M Abrams configuration as well as associated equipment and services.