U.S. looks to new Iraqi military to reduce security workload

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

The United States hopes to quickly Iraq's new military to ease the security workload in that country.

U.S. officials said the Bush administration hopes to launch a training program that could deploy the first Iraqi soldiers by October. They said the Iraqi troops will relieve U.S. soldiers in missions to secure vital installations from insurgency attacks.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, said the effort to rebuild Iraq's military is meant to address both short- and long-term issues. He said training of the military would begin this month and that training and recruiting sites have been selected.

The U.S. plan calls for the creation of an Iraqi light infantry division of 10,000 soldiers by the end of 2003, Middle East Newsline reported. Another three Iraqi divisions will be formed by 2005.

"We believe that these demobilized enlisted men can be very productively used in their private and ministerial security forces to help secure, for example, vital oil installations, electrical power plants, which are today being guarded by American soldiers," Bremer said in a video-conference from Baghdad. "If we can hire back and train enlisted men who have some weapon skills already and get them to a high standard, then they can start to take over some of the site security from our soldiers, which then allows our soldiers to more aggressively try to reestablish law and order in Baghdad, for example."

Bremer said Iraqi soldiers will first be used to help clear and build training sites. He said the United States has also agreed to relay salaries owed by the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein to hundreds of thousands of demobilized Iraqi soldiers.

"We will be starting to clear those sites and clean them up and do the necessary construction," Bremer said. "They are using, by the way, former enlisted army men. And so, we'll start building a new Iraqi army here, really, in the next month or so."

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