Forces of Valor 80015 Iraqi T-72 Main Battle Tank - Republican Guard, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 (1:32 Scale)
"We are not intimidated by the size of the armies, or the type of hardware the US has brought."
- Saddam Hussein, commenting on the build up of Coalition Forces in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield, November 12th, 1990
The T-72, which entered production in 1971, was first seen in public in 1977. The T-72, introduced in the early 1970s, is not a further development of the T-64, but rather a parallel design chosen as a high-production tank complementing the T-64. The T-72 retains the low silhouette of the T-54/55/62 series, featuring a conventional layout with integrated fuel cells and stowage containers which give a streamlined appearance to the fenders. While the T-64 was deployed only in forward-deployed Soviet units, the T-72 was deployed within the USSR and exported to non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies and several other countries. In addition to production in the USSR it has been built under license in Czechoslovakia, India, Poland and former Yugoslavia.
Pictured here is a 1:32 scale replica of an upgraded T-72 main battle tank employed by the Iraqi Army during the US-led Operation Iraqi Freedom and attached to a Republican Guards formation.
Length: 10.5 inches
Width: 4 inches
Height: 3 inches
Release Date: September 2004
Historical Account: "The Lion of Babylon" - Al-Haris al-Jamhuri (The Republican Guard) provided stiff resistance against American and UK forces deployed in Iraq. Understanding its evolution and structure can help explain why this military force has proven a formidable foe during the current crisis. The Republican Guard expanded rapidly during the Iran-Iraq War, although it was created to serve as a praetorian guard, to provide protection for all presidential sites, including offices and personal residences, as well as escorting Saddam Hussein when he was traveling within Iraq. After the 1991 Gulf War, the Special Republican Guard assumed these responsibilities.
The Republican Guards were the best equipped and trained units among Saddam's forces and received better pay and privileges than the regular Iraqi army. All Republican Guard troops were volunteers rather than conscripts. The majority of Iraq's Republican Guards consisted of Sunni Arab Muslims, opposed to Iraqi Shi'as and Kurds.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense did not directly control the Republican Guard, but rather, Qusay Hussein, the son of Saddam, who headed the Special Security Organization. Even though the Guard and regular Army were considered separate institutions, they could fight effectively together in defensive operations. The Republican Guard was used as a screen between the army and Baghdad, to prevent any coup attempts. Despite Saddam's high-profile use of the Republican Guard, they were strategically deployed outside Baghdad so as not to facilitate or allow any one of the Guard units to act against the regime. The Special Republican Guards were the largest armed units allowed inside of Baghdad.
The Republican Guard consisted of six divisions: an armored division, three mechanized divisions, and two infantry divisions, as well as three Special Forces brigades. Each division was composed of approximately 8,000 to 10,000 men, with total manpower estimated at approximately 60,000 - 80,000 men.