U.S. to set up new Iraqi chain of command by June

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

BAGHDAD The U.S. military plans to establish an Iraqi military and security force chain of command over the next two months.

U.S. officials said the military and security chain of command will be the priority of the Iraqi Defense Ministry. They said such a command would ensure discipline within the new U.S.-trained Iraqi forces.

"In the coming months, we will steadily strengthen our security partnership, placing increasing responsibility in the hands of Iraqis," CPA administrator Paul Bremer said. "By June 30, Iraqi soldiers in the ranks will report up through an Iraqi chain of command to Iraqi generals."

Officials said the U.S.-led coaltion continues to train members of the Iraqi security forces despite the flight of about half of the Iraqi military security forces during the Shi'ite and Sunni revolt in early April. They said the forces would now include former members of the Ba'ath Party, the ruling party under the Saddam Hussein regime, after screening to ensure that they did not participate in atrocities.

Over the next few months, the United States plans to accelerate the training and equipping of the Iraqi police, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the Border Police, the Infrastructure Protection Service and the new Iraqi army. Officials said the training would be integrated into a chain of command for Iraqi forces. They said the Iraqi units that fought best against Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in April were those with what officials termed a good, clear Iraqi leadership.

On April 18, Defense Minister Ali Alawi announced his appointment of the top Iraqi generals in the new Iraqi army. They included a chief of staff and his deputy as well as the senior military adviser to the ministry.

Officials said that 70 percent of senior Iraqi military and security officers would come from the army under Saddam. They said this would include the return of senior officers under the Saddam regime who did not serve in the top three layers of the Ba'ath Party or the top four layers of any ministry.

"You cannot pull generals out of thin air; you cannot recruit and train generals in a matter of weeks or a couple of years," CPA senior adviser Dan Senor said. "These are people who have to have tremendous experience."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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