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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Fact file: Iraq's Republican Guard
Iraqi Republican Guard soldiers
All RG soldiers are volunteers
The Republican Guard (RG) is the elite force of the Iraqi military.

Members of the RG are better trained, disciplined, equipped and paid than ordinary Iraqi soldiers.

This said, in terms of equipment and tactical ability, Iraq's elite soldiers are no match for even ordinary soldiers in the American and British forces - let alone elite troops such as the US marines.

There are doubts over the degree of loyalty Saddam Hussein can expect from the RG if they are faced with the full might and absolute technological superiority of US-led forces.

The Iraqi military in general is much reduced compared to the forces that were easily defeated by the US-led coalition in 1991 and its equipment is old and decrepit.

Privileges

All RG troops are volunteers rather than conscripts.

Personnel recruited into the guard are given bonuses and subsidised housing.

Alongside the RG, the Special Republican Guard (SRG) is regarded as a highly trained and equipped force - and one whose loyalty the Iraqi leader can count on without question.

The SRG is overseen by Saddam Hussein's son, Qusay.

Iraq's elite forces
Republican GuardSpecial Republican Guard
50,000 men 10,000 men
6 Divisions (3 armoured, 2 infantry, 1 mechanised)4 brigades
400 tanks100 tanks

Its primary mission is to protect the Iraqi leader and secure Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. It has military and intelligence responsibilities.

This force is seen as a crucial pillar maintaining Saddam Hussein in power.

Tikrit connection

SRG soldiers tend to be recruited from in and around Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

The clans in these areas have shown great loyalty to Saddam Hussein and his regime.

The SRG is the only significant military unit allowed into central Baghdad, apart from the intelligence services' military branches.

The SRG was at the centre of disputes between Iraq and the UN weapons inspectors in 1998, when the Iraqi authorities refused access to its facilities where proscribed weapons were believed to have been stored.

As troops are waging a ground war as part of the US-led campaign to remove the Iraqi leader, some military analysts believe US and UK soldiers might have to confront the SRG in street by street fighting in Baghdad.

Deteriorated force
Should be Likely to be
11,240 men to a division8,000 men to a division
1,320 tanks500 tanks
2,260 armoured vehicles1,000 armoured vehicles
642 artillery pieces400 artillery pieces
Source: Jane's Defence Group





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