Recruiting effort begins for Iraqi army
Stars and Stripes June 24, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. military leaders opened recruitment doors Monday for a new Iraqi army, which is expected to grow to about 12,000 infantry soldiers by the end of the year.
Administration officials also announced Monday that career soldiers and officers could begin collecting a monthly stipend in July. The news quelled a morning rally that some said had the makings of another violent demonstration.
Last week, violence erupted outside the gates of the main U.S. military and government headquarters. After protesters pelted U.S. soldiers with rocks, a military police soldier fired into the crowd, killing two protesters. Those demonstrating were former Iraqi soldiers who had gathered to protest the lack of pay and the U.S. administration’s disbanding of Iraqi army.
The monthly stipend — between $50 and $150 a month depending on rank and years of service — is slightly less than what the soldiers earned under Saddam Hussein’s rule. But it is enough to afford the former soldiers to “lead modest and decent lifestyles,” said Walter Slocombe, senior adviser for Security and Defense in the Coalition Provisional Authority. Slocombe was Defense Department Undersecretary of Policy for eight years during the Clinton administration.
Soldiers of the former regular army and rank-and-file Republican Guard soldiers will be eligible to collect the monthly stipend, Slocombe said.
As a basic rule, former military officers in the top senior ranks will not be eligible for high-ranking positions in the new army. Payments also will not go to the members of the old regime’s internal security forces or those accused of war crimes or human rights abuses.
Slocombe said the provisional authority expects to pay stipends to 200,000 to 250,000 career soldiers who lost their jobs after the U.S. military and coalition forces toppled Saddam’s regime in April.
Roughly 300,000 conscript soldiers will be eligible for a one-time payment, although Slocombe did not provide an amount.
Slocombe said the new army will serve and defend the nation.
Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who until last week was commanding general of the Army’s Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., will lead training schools for the New Iraqi Army, or NIA as it is being called.
He will have a staff assigned to him, but for the most part, the United States plans to contract out the training services instead of employing U.S. soldiers for the job, Slocombe said.
Although the army “will be a military force and not a police force, not a security force,” the infantry soldiers’ main duties will be to protect and defend Iraq’s borders, key installations, facilities and routes, Slocombe said.
The new army also will be considerably smaller than the 400,000-plus army under Saddam.
“The country was grotesquely over militarized,” Slocombe said. “It is the fact that most people in the old Army will not be able to continue their military careers.”
By the end of two years, the authority envisions 40,000 soldiers divided into three divisions.
For now, there are no plans to stand up an Iraqi air force, Slocombe said.
The authority also plans to pay stipends to retired and disabled veterans from Kurdish paramilitary organizations, who fought for years to overthrow Saddam’s regime.