The United States has set as its priority the
reconstruction of Iraq's military and security forces.
U.S. military officials said numerous Iraqi battalions would have to
undergo reconstitution and reconstruction over the next few months. The
officials said these Iraqi units fled coalition battles against Sunni and
Shi'ite insurgents in central and southern Iraq in April. They said that in
many cases the Iraqi officers handed over their weapons to the insurgents.
The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps would undergo the biggest change under the
reconstitution effort. Officials said U.S. Central Command has determined
that four ICDC battalions in the Faluja area and one in the Baghdad area
would require reconstitution after most of the troops either defected or in
some cases joined the insurgents.
The process of reconstitution, officials said, would include the
reorganization of the ICDC units, retraining and the restoration of
equipment, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said some of these units have been virtually bereft of
weapons and equipment.
"The security operations that took place during the month of April, a
number of the units of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, a number of police
units, and to a certain extent some Iraqi National Army units were unable to
perform their missions," Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid, displaying
a slide at a Pentagon briefing, said. "And you see the units in gray as
being those units that are having to be reconstituted, retrained, and to a
certain extent, reequipped."
Officials said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force plans to establish the
first battalion ø or between 600 and 1,100 soldiers ø of a new Iraqi
brigade to restore and maintain order in Faluja. An Iraqi army officer will
command the new force. The marines will equip and operate the Iraqi
In virtually every area of Iraq, the ICDC would undergo reconstitution,
officials said. They cited units in Al Qaim, near the Syrian border, as well
as Daqoq, Hilla, Hit, Samara and Tikrit.
In the north, officials said, an entire ICDC brigade was deemed as
requiring reconstruction in wake of the April revolt. That brigade was
located near Huwaiyiah.
Officials said ICDC units would also be expanded around such cities as
Irbil, Najaf and Mahmudiya. They said the expansion of these units stemmed
from the fighting in April.
The reconstitution of the ICDC and other Iraqi forces will take place
under Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, former commander of the 101st Airborne
Division, which left Iraq in March. Petraeus was authorized to establish a
chain of command of experienced senior Iraqi officers who could enforce
discipline and improve the capabilities of the troops by September 2004.
Abizaid said an enhanced Iraqi military and security force would not be
ready until at least November 2004. He said such a process could be delayed
February 2005 amid delays in weapons procurement and training.
"I think the most important lesson that we've learned from this is we
must have reliable Iraqi leadership all the way from the national level down
to the level of the lowest private in these organizations," Abizaid said.
"The immediate military tasks are first and foremost the rebuilding of Iraqi