BAGHDAD ø The U.S. has determined that nearly half of the
more than 200,000 Iraqi security officers refused to fight in the battle
against Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in early April.
Ten percent actually worked against the U.S.
"About 50 percent of the security forces that we've built over the past
year stood tall and stood firm," Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division,
said. "About 40 percent walked off
the job because they were intimidated. And about 10 percent actually worked
[On Thursday, the U.S. military expressed impatience with the refusal by
residents of Faluja to surrender their heavy weapons, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials termed as
junk the weapons so far relayed to authorities.]
The assessment exceeded claims of senior U.S. officials that only a
small portion of Iraqi security forces actually disobeyed orders or joined
the insurgents. U.S. military commanders warned that the Iraqi military and
security forces must be reconstituted.
"We have to take a look at the Iraqi security forces and learn why they
walked," Dempsey said.
Officials said Iraqi officers had been frightened by the prospect that
they or their familes would be killed by Shi'ite or Sunni insurgents. They said
the massive walkout was partly the result of a U.S. policy that allowed
security officers to work near their homes.
Dempsey, in an video conference from Baghdad to the annual meeting of
Associated Press in the United States, said police, ICDC and military troops
refused to fight their neighbors in cities around Iraq. He blamed the
absence of a strong
command structure for the failure to impose discipline on the troops.
A U.S. military report said those Iraqi security officers who joined the
insurgents had been sent to infiltrate the police, military and ICDC. The
report urged the military to improve its vetting process.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations, said the U.S.
military and Coalition Provisional Authority were
examining the return of senior Iraqi officers who served under the Saddam
Hussein regime as part of a command structure for the Iraqi military and
security forces. He said there were many senior officers who did not
participate in atrocities under the Saddam regime.
"As we continue to grow the Iraqi armed forces from more than just
squads and platoons and companies and battalions that need lieutenant
colonels, captains and majors, as the organization gets bigger, as the
Ministry of Defense is fleshed out, as the
Iraqi armed forces Joint Forces Headquarters is established, there is going
to be a need for high-ranking officers," Kimmitt said. "You're going to need
generals, you're going to need full colonels, you're going to need senior
officers to command and control those organizations. Obviously, that is not
a skill level that you can get in a series of weeks."