Captured records indicate that the Iraqi Army may have had some 20,000-25,000 sets of tactical body armour during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, though much of this equipment does not appear to have been issued to Saddam’s troops.
Tactical Body Armour “Recycled”
Most of this tactical body armour has now disappeared. Some of it was captured and seems to have been adopted by American and British troops, in the old tradition of recycling enemy gear.
As a result, some was probably lost or damaged in the normal course of operations, and troops preparing to return home probably just discarded some of it as well (or gave it to Iraqis they were friendly with). Precisely how much was disposed of in this way is unknown. Some of the rest has never been accounted for. It’s likely that some of it was looted during the first disorderly weeks of the occupation, but none has turned up being used by the anti-government forces (or at least no one has said it’s been used by them). Perhaps prudent civilians have been using it. But for the moment, the mystery of the missing Iraqi body armor remains unsolved.