Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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Jane's looks at what needs to be done to rebuild Iraq's military.
Only a few days ago US aircraft and attack helicopters were destroying Iraqi Republican Guard tanks and artillery pieces. With victory now all but assured after the fall of Baghdad, new orders have gone out to coalition forces. Abandoned Iraqi military hardware is now to be captured and secured, ready for the day when it can be handed back to the future government.
"Destroyed equipment will go to scrap yards for recycling," said Maj Gen 'Gene' Renuart, Director of Operations at US Central Command (USCENTCOM). "We will take control of those pieces of equipment still functioning. It would be a shame not to use some of that equipment to keep down the cost of creating a new Iraqi military security force at some point in the future."
The occupation of Amara in eastern Iraq on 8 April left US Marine Corps units in control of a huge booty that previously equipped two full divisions, including the 10th Armoured Division. "There are hundreds of tanks, vehicles and field guns just abandoned," said a senior officer at USCENTCOM.
One UK officer said the coalition was particularly keen to find the modern equipment of the Republican Guard that was abandoned south of Baghdad or dispersed to remote garrisons. Coalition officers say hundreds of modern T-72 tanks and BMP infantry fighting vehicles are still to be found.
JDW understands that part of the screening effort of 7,000 Iraqi prisoners of war involves finding out if any of them would be interested in joining a future Iraqi army. Coalition commanders are keen to make sure several of the high-ranking Iraqi regular army officers in their custody join the new army so they can counter-balance any influx of exiles.
Some 3,000 so-called 'Free Iraqi Forces' were trained by the US Army to act as interpreters and guides earlier this year and they could play a part in injecting into an Iraqi military a strain of 'new blood' that is untainted by involvement with the old regime.
Attention has also focused on the fate of the three Iraqi regular army corps, mustering some 100,000 troops, currently fighting in the north against predominately Kurdish forces. Their commanders have been approached to try to persuade them to surrender and these forces could potentially provide the core of any new army.
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