New Iraq army recruiting starts July 1, old army still paid

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The United States has announced plans to restore Iraq's military with an emphasis on defensive capability. Meanwhile former soldiers of Saddam's army are still being paid..

Officials said the U.S. reconstruction administration will begin recruitment for the Iraqi armed forces on July 1. They said the military would be restored in stages.

"This country was grotesquely over-militarized," Walter Slocombe, a senior aide to U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, told a news conference in Baghdad on Monday. "It is the fact that most people who were in the old army will not be able to continue military careers," Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said former members of Saddam's military would continue to be paid. They said the payments would range from $50 to $150 per month to up to 250,000 former soldiers.

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"The payments will be paid monthly and the recipients must renounce Baathism and violence," the Coalition Provisional Authority said in a statement. "The first payments to former soldiers will begin on July 14." The project will be overseen by the Defense Department, officials said. They said they envision the restoration effort of the military to take at least three years.

The new Iraqi military would be structured for defensive operations, including stopping any ground invasion from a neighboring state. Officials said missions would include border patrol as well as protection of vital installations.

Officials said the United States would establish several recruitment centers in July. They said military training would last 75 days and carried out by a private contractor under the direction of Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, former commander of the U.S. Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga. They said a contractor has not yet been chosen.

In its first stage, the Iraqi military will recruit 12,000 soldiers and officers, officials said. They said the soldiers would comprise a light infantry division in an effort that would take one year.

By mid-2006, the Iraqi military would grow to 40,000 and three divisions, officials said. Before the U.S. war to topple the regime of President Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi military numbered 400,000.

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