Shi'ite Muslims are slated to comprise most of Iraq's new
military, planned for completion in 2004.
U.S. officials said Shi'ites comprise 60 percent of the recruits chosen
to serve in Iraq's new army. More than 1,000 recruits have begun training by
the Vinnell Corp.
Vinnell is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.
The Iraqis, recruited in July from
Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, will undergo nine weeks of training in such
subjects as combat, human rights and hygiene, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the United States wants to speed up the training and
formation of the new Iraqi army. They said they hope to complete three
divisions, or 40,000 troops, by September 2004. The original schedule called
for this to take place in 2006.
The new Iraqi military will also have a largely Shi'ite officer corps,
the officials said. They said that Sunnis, who represented the ruling
minority under the regime of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, will
comprise 25 percent of the new military. Kurds will comprise 10 percent of
The figures were disclosed during a U.S. tour of the training facility
for the new Iraqi military recruits.
Officials said Vinnell has focused on training the first four battalions
of the Iraqi military, planned for deployment in January 2004. About 60
percent of the recruits have military experience.
Once the course is completed, officials said, the Iraqi soldiers,
promoted to the rank of private first class, will receive salaries of $70 a
month. Those chosen to undergo officer training will receive $100 per month.
The decision to accelerate the formation of the Iraqi military,
officials said, was taken at the U.S. Defense Department, which wants Iraqi
troops to quickly take over many of the duties now assigned to American
troops. Officials said the decision to expand the Iraqi army has been
opposed by U.S. chief administrator Paul Bremer, who wants to focus on
building the Iraqi police.
Each of the Iraqi military divisions will come under the auspices of the
U.S. military. The first Iraqi light infantry division will come under the
command of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, based in Tikrit.