Monday, March 17, 2008

Bremer taking some heat

Lots of stuff out there to angry up the blood today.

The latest from the NY Times is about Paul Bremer's decision to disband the Iraqi Army was almost entirely unilateral and done to make him look like he was dealing from a position of strength.

Why Bush went along I can only guess at. I would have to say it was to keep from undermining Bremer in Iraq. Unfortunately if he had maybe things would have turned out a little different.

BAGHDAD — When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.


The account that emerges from those interviews, and from access to previously unpublished documents, makes clear that Mr. Bremer’s decree reversed an earlier plan — one that would have relied on the Iraqi military to help secure and rebuild the country, and had been approved at a White House meeting that Mr. Bush convened just 10 weeks earlier.


When Mr. Bush convened his top national security aides before the March 2003 invasion, he was presented with a clear American plan on what to do with the Iraqi armed forces. American commanders and Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who served as the first American administrator in Iraq, planned to use the Iraqi military to help protect the country and as a national reconstruction force.

The plan was outlined in a PowerPoint presentation that Douglas J. Feith, a senior aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, gave at a National Security Council meeting that Mr. Bush convened on March 12, eight days before the invasion began. Republican Guard units, the forces deemed most loyal to Mr. Hussein, were to be disarmed, detained and dismantled.

But the rest of the army would be retained. Three to five of the divisions would be used to form the “nucleus” of a new Iraqi Army, according to a copy of the PowerPoint slide, which was obtained by The New York Times. Other Iraqi troops would be used as a reconstruction force to rebuild the nation.

The presentation also carried a caution about the risks of dismissing the army in the early months of an American occupation in a nation racked by high unemployment: “Cannot immediately demobilize 250K-300K personnel and put on the street.”

Col. John Agoglia, who served as a war planner for Gen. Tommy Franks at the United States Central Command, said the idea of using the Iraqi Army had long been an element of the invasion strategy.

“Starting in June 2002 we conducted targeted psychological operations using pamphlet drops, broadcasts and all sort of means to get the message to the regular army troops that they should surrender or desert and that if they did we would bring them back as part of a new Iraq without Saddam,” said Colonel Agoglia, who serves as the director of the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute of the Army.

Once the war got under way and many members of the Iraqi Army began to desert their posts, a different vision on how to proceed began to emerge at the Defense Department.

So essentially the plan was the one Jay Garner initially proposed before his relief as the head of the CPA.

It turns out there was a reason the military was advocating for that plan also:

“We knew they had either gone home or come out of uniform,” said General McKiernan, who was in charge of the land forces during the invasion and was recently chosen to lead the NATO force in Afghanistan. “The idea was to bring in the Iraqi soldiers and their officers, put them on a roster and sort out the bad guys as we went.”

At the Central Command, Lt. Gen. John P. Abizaid, who served as the deputy commander, had a similar view. He told associates that Arab armies were traditionally large to keep angry young men off the street and under the supervision of the government. For General Abizaid, a three-division force was a good starting point, but he wanted to expand the force to as close to 10 divisions as possible.

Wow, note how neatly that fits in with the article about suicide bombers from earlier today.

There's more but basically the article goes on to say that everyone involved except Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld felt like this was a bad idea. (Actually it says Defense Deaprtment leadership but that means Rumsfeld)
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