Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bring back the army!

I think that now is the time CPA should start to seriously consider reinstating the Iraqi Army. I do have my concerns about that process. Since Iraqis know that high ranking generals were all benefitors from the fascist regime. And that the Republican Guard was involved in massacres against the Kurds and the Shi'ites during the eighties and the early nineties. Six months ago I thought dissolving the Iraqi army was a wise decision. Now I'm not so sure. I didn't expect that 'freedom fighters' would start pouring in from behind the borders. I didn't expect that hardcore Saddam loyalists from the army would start a guerilla war. I thought everyone would settle down and start building. Of course I'm ashamed now to admit I was naive.

Coming to think of it now, I realize that the army didn't actually defend Saddam. The heaviest resistance during the war was carried out by Fedayeen, and party members. The bulk of the army simply vanished. This was a good sign. They should have been rewarded for that action not put out of work. We need them now. Just like the IP shattered their previous image under Saddam and turned out to be effective and has been a great help to the coalition, the same would apply to the army. After all the coalition forces can't control the whole of Iraq. The army can speak the local language, can recognize foreigners, knows the country, and there wouldn't be any cultural sensitivities involved.

Part of the Iraqi army could secure our borders, another part could be stationed in the Sunni triangle. Or more practically in joint operations with coalition forces. The current progress in recruiting and training new army members is very slow. I suggest keeping the younger army officers and hand them the job of reappointing former Iraqi soldiers under direct supervision of the coalition. After all they are trained efficiently and would only require about a two week rehabilitation training on modern military techniques. And they would be ready to patrol the borders. The Iraqi Civil Defense army would be installed in checkpoints around major cities and on major highways together with a few coalition elements. And the IP can concentrate on their real job fighting crime. FPS guards key positions and facilities inside the cities. And a large number of coalition forces can pull out of Iraq to reduce the costs. Sounds sensible doesn't it? Or maybe I'm becoming too much of a wishful thinker.

I have yet to see any Iraqi against this. I guess only the Kurds would object to this step. But they aren't experiencing the security problems we are. Its not true that the army was loyal to Saddam. They just carried out direct orders from their superiors. They were rarely used to opress the Iraqi people, and in 91 they were as much a victim from the elite Republican Guard as other Iraqis during the rebellion after the Gulf war. Iraqis do not hate their army as some sources are suggesting. I have heard many military people describe the chemical attacks on the Kurds in Halabja as a dirty trick by the regime. The army was told that they were attacking Iranian forces who infiltrated the area. They had no idea that they were using chemicals against their own people.

Bring back our Army!