How big is Iraq's army now?

Back in Gulf War 1.0, they made a big deal that Iraq’s army was the 3rd largest in the world. What rank is it now?

I can’t answer your question, but I’m not sure that an official number will mean much. I am not an expert, but a lot of the army will defect. Again, I am not an expert, but don’t the generals have considerable autonomy? I mean, if they tell their troops to do this, they will listen, right?

Sorry, I shouldn’t have added this dribble.

Once again…

Not large enough.

~400,000 soldiers, most of them infantry, I think.

Does that still make them 3rd largest?


Based on population entering military service each year (sourced from CIA World Factbook), Iraq is slightly less well off than Canada. Obviously, Iraq has a higher standing army that our bed buddies in regional air defense, but standing militaries mean little compared to most Western powers, which can blow a whistle and suddenly balloon (Gulf War 1 was about 200,000 Iraqi troops facing off against 250,000 Allied… then 300,00… then 500,000… and so on, if I recall correctly). Iraq’s troops are also less well trained and poorly armed compared to American troops, which makes a huge difference.

These numbers only reflect potential, not actual size, but you can get a idea for the likely ratios in wartime.

Canada has about 7 million individuals fit for military service, versus Iraq’s 3.5 million. Both have between 225-275,000 reaching military age each year (Iraq being the high end of that). Iraq spends 1.3 billion USD on it’s military each year to Canada’s 8 billion USD.

Doesn’t really matter, though. The United States has over 50 million military-fit citizens, has 2 million reach military age each year, and spends 276 billion USD on it’s military, which is about 33% of Canada’s GNP (Canada’s 1.3 billion is around 1.1% of it’s GNP, and America’s 276 billion is 3.1% or so).

For perspective, Iraq has roughly the same recruiting pool as Canada and Afghanistan, neither of which are known to be military juggernauts. Iraq would probably rank quite a bit higher than Canada or Afghanistan in “military size,” but certainly below Canada in overall military strength. So in the end, it hardly matters, and the “3rd largest army in the world” was chest pounding by the propagan- er, media in the first place.

So, uh, how exactly did Canada get involved in this conversation?

I asked if Iraq was 3rd, Zagadka pointed out that Canada is larger, so that makes Iraq 4th at highest.

So, if I understand his post its people able or fit for military service, not standing army?

If so, Canada is #3? Behind what, the US and Russia? What about China? Britain? France? Germany? I find that very hard to believe. Even during WW2 during an almost complete mobilization were 4th then. Certainly, thats fallen in the last 50 years.

Am I undertanding this incorrectly or am I being totally whoooshed here?

… But our snowballs would melt in Iraq.

I wouldn’t count on that too much this go around for a few reasons.

  1. Things are different when you’re defending your country from perceived aggressors. In Gulf War 1.0 Iraq had attacked Kuwait so to some extent the soldiers knew they had it coming to them. You attack, people fight back. That’s how it works. Things change when you’re sitting at home minding your own business and someone comes to mess with you.

  2. Gulf War 1.0 saw a month of unceasing airstrikes, Tomahawk missile attacks, shore bombardments, artillery barrages and the like. By the time the Allies did attack many of the Iraqi army had had enough. Saddam had left them hanging out there with little support and no way to fight back. Many soldiers were relieved when they could surrender. I doubt Gulf War 2.0 will see a month-long bombardment prior to engagement.

  3. After a decade of sanctions many Iraqis are pissed at the US. You can argue whether they really have a right to be or not but that’s beside the point. They see the US as the main cause of much misery for them and might be looking forward to some payback.

Can the US win? Almost certainly if it tries. Will it be as ‘easy’ as Gulf War 1.0? Almost certainly not.

Basic overview

Guide to Iraq’s military

Hope this helps a bit. :slight_smile: